PITTSBURGH — On second thought, Ben Roethlisberger believes he still has “it.”
In fact, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is pretty sure he’s never lost “it,” even if he found himself somewhat facetiously wondering it out loud after his career-high five interceptions led to a stunning loss to Jacksonville on Sunday.
“I have that belief that I’m one of the best that’s ever done it, one of the best that’s ever played this position and you have to have that confidence,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday during his regular radio appearance on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.
Even if it didn’t look like it at times against the Jaguars. The Steelers were held without a touchdown at home for the first time in a decade on a day the franchise leader in every major statistical passing category threw five passes to the Jaguars, two of which Jacksonville returned for touchdowns to turn Pittsburgh’s third-quarter lead into a its worst home loss since 2006.
A visibly frustrated Roethlisberger placed the blame solely on his shoulders and said “maybe I don’t have it anymore” when asked if he could put his finger on what’s gone wrong. The Steelers (3-2) are averaging just 20 points a game heading into Sunday’s visit to Kansas City (5-0).
A day later, Roethlisberger went back to work energized and insisted his brief flirtation with retirement in the offseason has nothing to do with his current struggles. Roethlisberger has just six touchdowns against seven interceptions through five games and his 75.8 quarterback rating is nearly 20 points below his career average.
“If you’re asking me is my heart into it, I’ll say 100 percent,” Roethlisberger said. “I love this game, I love this sport, I love my teammates, the fans. I give it everything I have.”
Roethlisberger said Sunday that he wasn’t concerned with his mechanics but added he wasn’t a “guru.” He did talk to his agent, Ryan Tollner, about his performance. Tollner, who played quarterback at the University of California, assured Roethlisberger there was nothing wrong. Roethlisberger is completing just 61.5 percent of his passes. He hasn’t completed below 64 percent over the course of a full season since 2012.
“I don’t think there’s anything there,” Roethlisberger said. “Honestly, I don’t think your talent, it doesn’t go away. It goes awry sometimes, but it doesn’t go away.”
The two-time Super Bowl winner likened himself to a “cowboy,” one with plenty of drive left. Coach Mike Tomlin downplayed Roethlisberger’s postgame comments, well attuned to his quarterback’s tendency to blurt out his frustrations, ones that dissipate when given proper time to cool off.
“I don’t overreact the way some of (the media) react,” Tomlin said Tuesday.
Tomlin said Roethlisberger looked “like a guy who was ready to gun-sling and get back at it” while going through the usual Monday routine. Whatever moment of introspection Roethlisberger may have had appears to be over. It needs to be if the Steelers want to survive a difficult stretch.
Pittsburgh travels to Kansas City in a playoff rematch from January, hosts rapidly improving Cincinnati and visits Detroit before its bye week.
Notes: Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, whose spectacular 6-yard touchdown reception with 35 seconds left gave the Steelers a 27-23 victory over Arizona in the 2009 Super Bowl, officially retired as a member of the Steelers on Tuesday. Holmes caught 235 passes for 3,835 in four seasons with Pittsburgh before being traded to the New York Jets in 2010. Holmes, who last played for the Chicago Bears in 2014, finished his career with 389 receptions for 6,030 yards and 36 touchdowns while playing for the Steelers, Jets and Bears.