PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked all preseason about how excited and refreshed he was to start his 16th NFL season with something of a new start after the departures of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown re-set the Steelers’ offensive skill positions.
The came the team’s opener, 33-3 loss to New England in which the Steelers struggled to move the ball on offense. It was the kind of loss that has certainly let the air out of the Steelers’ fanbase early in the season.
Has the level of excitement changed any for Roethlisberger as the team prepares to face another tough defense in Seattle during Week 2.
“No,” Roethlisberger said matter-of-factly while speaking with media before practice on Wednesday.
“Not at all.”
That shouldn’t be a total surprise. As the team’s most experienced leader, Roethlisberger knows that he needs to keep the team focused on the task at hand. He’s also been a part of more than one season that didn’t have a good start and turned out just fine. In 2015, the script was very similar, when the Steelers opened with a loss at New England. That year, they finished 10-6.
“It’s one game,” Roethlisberger said. “We played the best team in football at their place. We’ve just got a game this week and we’re excited about it.”
That’s the message that he’s trying to instill on his young teammates, as well.
“I told the guys on Monday when we came in here, we were out doing our run and stuff, I said, ‘Guys, look up. The sun is still shining. The sky is still blue. The best thing is that we still get to play on Sunday.’ A few years ago, we started 0-4, I believe. It’s a long season. Half the teams lost their first game.”
So far, he hasn’t seen anyone with their heads down over the Week 1 loss.
“Not at all,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect it. If we had guys that were down and out and calling it quits, we’d have a lot bigger issues. Guys realize what Week 1 was and we’re going to Week 2.”
Of course if the Steelers don’t play better than the do going forward, there will be a lot more Week 1’s in their future. Roethlisberger said it’s more about fine-tuning details than making big-picture changes. He was careful not to criticize his receivers, but the team had three official drops and several others that could have been caught.
Roethlisberger can be better. The play calling, which he did allude to, can be better. The receivers can certainly be better.
While that leads to disappointment when it comes to their level of play against the Patriots, it also leads to a sense of knowing what needs to be done to make it right going forward.