Updated: Dec 25, 2020
(Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
The Steelers have lost three straight games after getting off to a franchise-best 11-0. Times have been grim in Pittsburgh lately, and the franchise quarterback's play has been way below the line in the last two games against the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. You can pretty much say Roethlisberger was the sole reason for both losses, throwing a combined three interceptions (one that went for a pick-six), a lost fumble, and completion percentages in the 50s and quarterback ratings in the 60s, along with throwing under 200 yards in each of both games.
"I don't blame them," Roethlisberger said on Wednesday when asked about the naysayers saying that he's nearing the end of his career. "When you play like poo, you should get talked about like that. I need to play better. If I'm not giving them a reason to talk good, then I'm giving them a reason to talk bad. That's all on me. I need to play better."
Roethlisberger had a 22-4 touchdown-interception ratio in his first nine games of the season and he was in the conversation for league MVP. However, in his last five games, his play has drastically dropped off with an 8-6 touchdown interception-ratio. Roethlisberger has thrown at least one interception in each of his last five games, and the Steelers have not scored 20 points in four consecutive games.
"Truthfully, at the end of the day, that's my determining factor if I play well or not, is are we winning the football game?" Roethlisberger said. "That's all that matters to me. Am I not completing enough passes, am I getting us in the right play call? There's a myriad of issues, in my opinion, that aren't helping us win the game and it can be something different all the time.
"I just haven't played well enough to help us win a football game, because at the end of the day, that's all that really matters."
Roethlisberger said during a Zoom interview with the media that he called a players-only meeting for the offense on Wednesday. Roethlisberger stressed the fact that it had nothing to do with the three-game slide and more about focusing on what's ahead of them.
"Just wanted guys to understand and reiterate how important this time of year is and the playoffs aren't guaranteed to anybody," he said. "It wasn't a players-only panic meeting. Make sure people keep writing that. This was a meeting that we felt was necessary moving forward going into the postseason."
Roethlisberger has played in 21 playoff games (13-8) and won two Super Bowls, but for the rest of the team, there's not much playoff experience. The Steelers last made the playoffs in 2017.
“We’re getting ready to go into the playoffs. I had the guys raise their hands of who has played in a playoff game and who hasn’t,” Roethlisberger said. “It was over half the guys that haven’t played in a playoff game. It’s important the veteran guys, the guys that have, communicate what it’s like. I hate to throw them out like that, but we used Coach Mike Munchak as an example, a guy that spent 30-plus years in the NFL playing and coaching and was only a part of one Super Bowl. I wanted to reiterate how important this time of the year is. The playoffs are not guaranteed to anyone. It wasn’t a players-only panic meeting. This is a meeting we felt was necessary going into the postseason.”