Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger caught up with the media on Wednesday. Below is a transcript of the Q&A with the Steelers signal caller.
Do you think you learned something about your offense last week?
No. I just think we got to see what we are capable of doing.
Why do you think it went well last week?
I think guys did their job. We talked about trying not to do too much, do more than just your job. I tell the guys before the game, us collectively, if we do our jobs we are pretty darn good. We didn’t try to do too much, and we did a good job of that.
Re: Coming back in the AFC Wild Card game against the Bengals:
Yeah. It was a crazy finish to that game. Just the whole thing was pretty bizarre. It was a very special game.
How has this rivalry evolved over the years?
You know, it’s AFC North football. It’s one of those games that can get chippy at times. You hope it doesn’t. You hope it’s just a hard-fought football game but sometimes it gets a little chippy. So, we’ll do our best to put all that in the past behind us and play like it’s a normal football game.
How hard will it be to put the emotions behind you given what happened last year in Cincinnati?
Well, I think on our side, we’ll put it behind us. We are going to go in and play like it’s a normal football game, AFC north physical football game. We can only control half the players out there though, so we know how important this game is for us to try and get a w.
What did coach Tomlin do to get the team through what happened last year?
Well I think, I hate even going back to think about it. I think the biggest thing about that game, the end of it at least, it was just unknown. We didn’t know what was going on. We knew that a guy went to the hospital, but you didn’t really know the severity of it at the time. In the midst of the football game you just keep playing the football game.
Re: Will your elbow limit you:
It’s fine. I don’t even need to talk about it. It’s good.
Do you have to pay attention to where Vontaze Burfict is?
Yes, because he is a good football player. Honestly, I have said this to him on the football field, he is a phenomenal football player. [He’s] very smart, physical, can make all the plays and so you need to know where he is in that sense, yes, because of how good he is.
How do you go about protecting yourself in this game where there is some extra sometimes?
Just tell the linemen to block really well.
What did coach Tomlin do to get you through the game, as a coach he said he didn’t know?
None of us knew.
Was there anything he did to keep it calm or focus?
Not that I can remember. Personally, I cannot remember anything.
So just keeping things status quo?
Just normal, yea.
With a new coordinator what have you noticed different with Cincinnati defensively?
Not a lot of things. I think when you have players that they have, the talent they have, at some point just lineup and let them play so you still see them in the 4-3. You still see some of that stuff in the coverages, but they just have a lot of really good football players that make plays. I think they use their front four and seven to get after the quarterback and make you throw it quick. As long as [Carlos] Dunlap is in, he seems like he can be five yards away you and still find a way to get the ball or get you down so what an awesome challenge for us.
Kind of like dealing with a shot blocker in basketball?
Exactly. You think he is far enough away, but he always seems to somehow be around the ball. You don’t think of that a lot when you think of pass rushers being around the ball usually, that is secondary guys. He’s got a knack for finding it.
What has Vance McDonald brought to your tight end group?
It’s an extra body. It gives Jesse [James] some rest. It gives X-man [Xavier Grimble] [rest]. I think all three of them can rotate a lot. I think he’s a guy that you have to be aware for down the field stuff. He’s a guy that can create some mitch-match opportunities and you have to take advantage of it. And we all saw what can happen when the ball gets in his hand quick enough.
Did Vance request to be in a locker next to you and does it benefit you?
Yeah, I tried to get him moved back out [jokingly]. No, Vance [McDonald] and I have a great relationship. We are in a bible study, a couple’s bible study off the field, so we went on a trip this offseason together. It’s good being there and communicating about football things, life things, faith things, whatever it is and so it’s good having him there and I definitely think it helps us on the field.
If you were to coach, how would you rotate James Conner and Le’Veon Bell?
That’s a good thing that I am not the coach. I don’t know. I think James [Conner] has done some amazing things and deserves to be on the football field. We also know what Le’Veon [Bell] is and what he brings to the table, so I guess we’ll cross that bridge if and when it happens.
Is the next step consistency for James Conner?
I don’t know that there has been much down. I guess if you are saying in terms of rushing yards but if you look at the overall picture of what we ask him to do every week, I think it’s been going up every week. I think that’s what gets lost in what a running back and he’s been doing. Pass blocking, picking up the blitz, catching the ball out of the backfield. I don’t want to jinx it, but he’s caught almost everything I threw to him, and he’s in the right spot every time quickly. I know we talk about, you say in terms of yards and rushing, you may see a up and down but in terms of just football player and running back play it’s been going up every week.
How could this offense utilize both two good running backs?
Keeping guys fresh, I think that is important. You don’t want to wear a guy down. You saw last week James [Conner] would go for a while then [Stevan] Ridley would come in and get some blows and I think that would be important when Le’Veon [Bell] comes back that both of those stay really fresh when they are on the field.
With the rule changes how could that affect how the rivalry is played?
I have no idea. Some of the stuff that happens in that game, the rules were made before that so it’s not just about the physicality of the game. To me it’s when the extracurricular, the dirty stuff that is, you wish would be cut out of it and hope it is cut out this time.
Re: Criticism of James Conner blitz pick up, I thought he was doing well:
So, did I. I gave him a hard time, he had a blitz the other day when I was rolling out and he got in the way. I gave him a hard time, I said man you should pancake that guy, just joking around about it. But no, I think he’s been doing a great job. That’s why I brought that up because he’s done more than run the ball and catch it. He’s picking up blitzes and he’s doing exactly what we ask him to do so whoever was critical of that, they do not know what they are talking about.
Transcript provided by the Pittsburgh Steelers