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.
Tomlin Bringing Referees into Steelers Practice to Help Penalty Issues
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin thinks his team took too many penalties in their Week 2 win over the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field on Saturday, and he’s going to do something about it.
Tomlin said on Tuesday that he’s bringing referees into practice this week in order to help his team remain in compliance with the NFL rulebook on gamedays.
“It hurt our efforts on both sides of the ball,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “It hurt our efforts in terms of possessing the ball on offense. We had two critical holding calls in the first half that put us behind the chains and essentially stopped drives. Ball possession and drives, there’s too much scarcity in that discussion to get major penalties and throw yourself behind the chains. We’re just not good enough to overcome those things at this juncture, and quite frankly, I would imagine not many of us in this game are that good at this juncture.
“On the defensive side of the ball, we didn’t play clean enough on the back end on possession downs. They were able to extend drives through DPI and things of that nature. When you get people to that point to where you have them in a third down situation and you have the ball snapped and you’re executing the rush, there’s just too much ground covered to start over and give them a new set of downs. We have to get better in those areas.”
Special teams were also part of the problem, Tomlin said, as the Steelers had a Diontae Johnson punt return touchdown called back due to a block in the back. In total, the Steelers were penalized 10 times for 89 yards.
“We are not only analyzing and openly talking about the penalties, but we are working hard to rectify it,” he said. “We intend to bring some officials to our practice work this week in an effort to make a point of emphasis in that area. That’s important for us. Again, I just thought that was a catalyst for a lot of negativity in the game for us.”
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden said after the game that the team felt that “some of the calls weren’t going their way,” but Tomlin said they don’t consider whether or not they think a call should have been made when assessing and evaluating team performance.
“We coach. We don’t officiate the game,” he said “We are not assessing judgment based on what’s called. We are simply acknowledging what is called and we are making whatever necessary change in our behavior to make sure that it is not called moving forward. It’s as simple as that for us.”
Tomlin said the team is still working through the procedures to have the officials they want to use tested and able to be on the practice field at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex when the team returns to work on Wednesday.
Video: Kevin Dotson on First NFL Start, Confidence Level
Steelers rookie guard Kevin Dotson speaks with the media via Zoom after making his first career start in the Steelers second game of the 2020 season against the Denver Broncos.
While DeCastro’s return likely will mean an end to Dotson starting, it’s a testament to his skill and confidence level that he was able to play well in early in a season that lends itself to being more difficult for inexperienced players to fill in.
Steelers Super Bowl Odds Improve After 2-0 Start
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl odds have shortened after their 2-0 start to the season.
Opening the 2020 season at 22/1, the Steelers are now 20/1 to win Super Bowl LV, courtesy of BetOnline.ag.
The Steelers were not the only team to see their prospects rise, with the Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers also seeing their odds shorten.
After key injuries and inconsistency to start the year, the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers both have longer odds than where they began.
The Kansas City Chiefs — whose odds remained the same — and the Ravens are currently the favorites to win Super Bowl LV at 5/1.