Different Steelers, same Roethlisberger

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Ben Roethlisberger

These are not the Steelers you’re used to. But it’s still the same Ben Roethlisberger, which means they’re always going to have a chance.

With a system, he’s still coming to grips with, a supposed lack of running game and lack of protection, and too many balls on the ground, the Steelers quarterback was undeterred,leading his team to a 24-17 win over the Bengals.

Roethlisberger finished 27-of-37 for 278 yards and a touchdown.

Those numbers would have been a lot better if not for some problems by his teammates (keep reading), but they were still enough.

You can tell Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley are still learning to dance together. Toes are still being stepped on, between getting the steps just right often enough.

He can still move the pocket to buy time, and he can still gun the ball (as he proved on his touchdown to Heath Miller just before halftime).

But all told, his is a game that is generally greater than the sum of its parts. And for a team in a bit of a transition, that’s something they need to count on.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. If the Steelers have been good at anything over the years, it’s been replacing guys well, and at just the right times.

But there are certain guys they have a hard time doing without.

Without safety Troy Polamalu, their defense lacks any kind of dynamic element. Outside linebacker James Harrison is back in body, but doesn’t appear to be making much of an impact. And their line borders on solid, but can’t change a game.

Where they’ve excelled at filling gaps is on the offensive line. While their blocking has been suspect in the past, they were playing without a pair of starters (inactive center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Marcus Gilbert) and kept it going. They protected well, and paved the way for more than enough running, even without their top two running backs (inactives Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman). Read more…


Family First: Roethlisberger’s decision causes riff

Ben Roethlisberger, Ashley Harlan

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s wife is pregnant, and he says that if she goes into labor on a game day, he’s missing the game.

Roethlisberger said in an interview on Wednesday, and reiterated in a post on his personal website on Thursday, that if he is forced to choose, he will choose being there for the birth of his son over being with the Steelers.

“I’m not missing the birth of my child,” Roethlisberger told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “There’s no chance. I know some fans probably don’t want to hear that, but there’s no chance.”

If Roethlisberger chooses to miss a game for the birth of his child, he won’t be the first NFL player to do so. In 1993, Houston Oilers offensive tackle David Williams skipped a Sunday game because his wife gave birth the night before, and the Oilers were furious: They docked him his game check, and Oilers offensive line coach Bob Young said that he had personally skipped the birth of his own child for a football game and was outraged that Williams wouldn’t do the same, saying of Williams, “He let the guys down, and he let hundreds of thousands of fans down.”

The culture of the NFL and of American society has changed enough in two decades that Roethlisberger probably won’t face such a harsh denunciation if he does miss a game. But Roethlisberger said he and his wife — who have declined to reveal publicly when she’s due — are going to attempt to make it work so that she doesn’t give birth on a day the Steelers are playing. Read more…

Roethlisberger injures ankle

Todd Haley, Ben Roethlisberger

We’d hate to see how many injuries Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would have if he weren’t wearing a red jersey in practice.

Already suffering (so he claims) from a partially torn rotator cuff in his shoulder, Roethlisberger sprained his left ankle at practice on Saturday after being stepped on by a defensive lineman, according to USAToday.com.

It’s the same ankle he injured during the 2011 season against the Browns.

Roethlisberger limped off the field.  He later had it wrapped in an icepack.

The quarterback also addressed his relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, which has yet to turn frosty.

“We’re just kind of waiting for it,” Roethlisberger said regarding a potential explosion from the former Chiefs head coach and Cardinals offensive coordinator.  “Todd’s the only guy to ever make Kurt Warner cuss.”

Roethlisberger and Haley seem to be working well together, so far. Read more here…

Ben Roethlisberger hopes rotator cuff doesn’t tear all the way

Ben Roethlisberger

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s ankle injury was common knowledge at the end of last season, but his shoulder never showed up on any injury reports.

It probably should have since Roethlisberger told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he’s been dealing with a tear in his right rotator cuff since last November. Roethlisberger downplayed the seriousness of the injury when asked about how his arm is feeling after a few days of training camp.

“I’m good. It’s OK, just sore. I have a little torn rotator cuff. That doesn’t heal. We just have to hope it doesn’t tear the rest of the way, according to Doc,” Roethlisberger said. “It actually feels great. I don’t have any pains anymore. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get any worse.”

There’s not really much to add to what Roethlisberger said. If the injury doesn’t get worse, Roethlisberger should be fine. Any problems he had near the end of last season had to do with a lack of mobility because of the ankle and not his ability to throw the balls where he needed to throw them. A complete tear of the rotator cuff, on the other hand, would obviously put the Steelers in a tough spot this season.

If Roethlisberger’s arm does continue to hold up, he’d like to use it to throw passes to Mike Wallace. Roethlisberger told Bouchette that he’s spoken to Wallace and that he thinks it shouldn’t be too much longer until he’s able to have a conversation with him in person instead of over the phone. Read more here…