Depending upon your level of comfort with profanity—and perhaps your frequency spent in the presence of minors—you might say that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played like shit against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. You might say that he played like crap.
Or, if you’re Roethlisberger himself, the parent of a number of young ones, including his oldest son who is active in following football and likely watches his interviews, he confessed to reporters that he played like poo.
While Steelers fans no doubt were yelling obscenities much more blasphemous than that at their television screens watching their franchise quarterback play against a team that they had beaten 11 consecutive times, he also acknowledges that it comes with the territory when you play this way.
“I don’t blame them”, he said of talk in the media recently about how near to the end of his career he might be, at the age of 38 and coming off of elbow surgery. “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 badly. That’s all on me. I need to play better”.
Even though the Bengals have been exceptionally bad in recent years, they were no better this year once Joe Burrow went down, yet they still managed to drop a deuce in Cincinnati, flushing their chances of claiming the number one seed down the toilet.
Just last season, the Steelers twice defeated the Bengals in games started by Mason Rudolph, their backup quarterback. In the latter game, they did have to turn to Devlin Hodges, then their number two to Rudolph, to salvage that win.
On Monday, it was Roethlisberger who played like number two—take that however you will—a fact that he can hardly deny. He particularly stunk up the joint in the first half, completing just seven of 16 pass attempts for 19 yards with an interception and a quarterback rating of 25.
While he would play better in the second half, there would be no miracle moment like Lamar Jackson rushing out from the locker room to throw a go-ahead touchdown after finding relief in the locker room from suffering due to cramps.
The Steelers’ recent play as a whole, not just limited to Roethlisberger’s play, has left the team’s fan base with an upset stomach as they watch their hopes of claiming an AFC North title spin their way down the tubes.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said that each week, they wipe the slate clean and relieve themselves of the residue of last week’s game, win or lose. Roethlisberger and the Steelers can use a major wiping effort after dropping three turds in a row.