Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (10.18.20)

What does getting that 10-point lead early allow you to do offensively?

Well, you know, I probably have to pause on that, I apologize. I just want to send out my thoughts and prayers to Devin [Bush] and his family and everything he’s going through right now. It just makes you sick when someone, a young player, skilled like that, gets hurt. I need to send my thoughts and prayers to him first. As to your question, whenever you jump out to a lead with a defense, especially like we have, it just gives you a little bit of breathing room. We knew this is a really good defense that we were facing coming in, so when you can kind of get to that point and get a lead on them, that helps because they are a team that has played with a lead a lot this year.

 

To this point you were 4-0 but your wins were coming against teams that did not have a winning record. Beating a hot Browns team with the momentum they had coming in, what does that do for your team going forward, especially facing an undefeated Titans team next week?

Yeah, it’s AFC North football, we throw records out the window anyway. This is a good win for us.

 

The offense has exploded for some points, you see how the league is going, how important is it for you guys and how much confidence does it give you going forward?

Yeah, it was one of those weird feelings because it didn’t feel like we were doing a lot on offense. We ended up scoring I think 31 points on offense. I know the defense got a touchdown for us but it just never really felt like we did much, but, that’s what is special about this team and the offense is kind of everyone contributes. Everyone makes plays. Today James [Washington] made a big play with a touchdown for us.

 

Did it feel like in the second half you were playing downhill? Can you speak to the play of the O-line?

Yeah, that was the plan. In the second half, come out with field position and really just start running the ball and pounding it and grinding and you know kind of our four-minute offense with a lot of time left. But we really excelled in that area of football so far this year and that really is the five guys up front, throw J.C. [Hassenauer] in there, plus Hawk [Jerald Hawkins] coming in as a big guy at tight end. We didn’t have to throw many in the second half when you have a lead like that. It felt like an old Bill Cowher offense.

 

Do you feel like, especially early on with the way they seem to be putting extra attention on your slants, that you needed and did connect downfield and on sidelines in a lot of the stuff that you’ve been focused on lately?

Yeah, they made some good plays early on, some RPOs, which is just our quick passing game. So they batted some down. They got in and jumped them. They were ready for it today. So we decided to take some shots down the field, and I know James [Washington] had two big ones down the field and so that was neat to see. Neat to see guys making plays down the yard.

 

You’ve played with No. 1 defenses before, and I know you’ve said that you do enjoy watching your defense. What is it about this group that makes you think back to those championship defenses and what do you in particular like about this defense?

They are fun. They are special. They are obviously getting turnovers. They are scoring. And they are a handful — I don’t know the stats but a couple of times a day, it was either third and short or fourth and short and you just felt like they were going to stop them. Sometimes you’re like, okay, hopefully get a stop here or whatever. You just felt — it feels different sometimes with our defense because they are aggressive, they get after it, they made plays on the back end today, and I said after the game, I’m glad I don’t have to play them on Sundays.

 

I think you ran five or seven plays and all of a sudden you’re up 10-0, does that change how you move forward with some of your calls because you have such a big lead early?

Yeah, we definitely — I felt like we did do that a little bit, but we switched gears a little bit there and went to a no-huddle, I think two straight series. They went down and scored, and James [Washington] got the long one which I have to credit Josh Dobbs on the sideline, we were talking about plays and he had mentioned calling a play that we basically scored a touchdown on. So I have to give Dobbs credit for that, talking on the sideline. We picked up the tempo. We changed it. We started slowing it a little bit and then you get that lead like you talk about, and you can really back it down and just grind them.

 

Coach Tomlin talked about how this was a varsity ball type game today. How complete of a game was this for you guys and how much confidence does that give you knowing that you guys are clicking on all cylinders in all phases of the game here?

This is a good football team coming in here, like I said, it was AFC North, our first AFC North game. We wanted to kind of play good football. And we wanted to do it on all phases and I don’t know the last time I came out of the game with eight minutes to go, so that’s a good feeling.

 

You mentioned it felt like Bill Cowher football. Which part of it, throw early to run late, or take the air out of the ball in the second half?

Yeah, it felt like turn around, had Jerome Bettis 20 times the second half. But hey, whatever you’ve got to do to win a football game. I thought James [Conner] ran the ball well in the second half. Benny [Snell Jr.] coming in there and doing some things and the line really created openings for them.