There was a time earlier in this season in which Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was beginning to have his name whispered in the MVP conversation. Those whispers have completely died out over the course of the past few weeks as the as the team’s offense has fizzled out and, hopefully, hit rock bottom.
Over the past three games, Roethlisberger has completed 90 of 141 pass attempts for 758 yards with five touchdowns to four interceptions. That sort of ratio is not going to cut it. He only three five interceptions over the course of the first 10 games, and was having the most successful season of his career in terms of protecting the ball.
While he has been able to put up some yards, averaging over 250 passing yards per game over the past three contests, and still on pace to throw for over 4000 yards on the season, the numbers don’t tell the story. The performances do, and the quarterback knows how he’s playing as well as anybody else.
“We need to look in the mirror, and it starts with me”, he said after Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills about the offense “I need to play better football because the ball is in my hands every single play. When it’s in my hands, I need to make the best decision. Right now, I’m not playing good enough football to win”.
Roethlisberger has a long history of deflecting criticism upon himself and away from his teammates. In recent weeks, as his playmakers have been dropping balls left and right, he responded by saying that he needs to give them better balls to catch.
This time, however, there’s no question that his own individual performance is under scrutiny as part of the reason that the Steelers are now losing games, dropping two in a row after having been able to rattle off 11 consecutive victories to start the season.
If they are going to right the ship over the last three weeks of the regular season, a lot of it is going to be on Roethlisberger’s shoulders, but he can’t do it alone. His guys need to catch his passes and make plays with the ball. They need to get some semblance of a running game. And the defense can’t keep playing only 30-45 minutes of quality football.
Even throughout their 11-0 run, this was never really a team that was showing the signs of being a juggernaut. Outside of their excellent pass rush, they have no dominant traits, and even that has been reduced with the loss of Bud Dupree.