Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger keeps faith in Donte Moncrief despite drops
Donte Moncrief was aboard the team bus when he received a text message from Ben Roethlisberger, as the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback reminded the receiver that he believes him in despite a disastrous debut.
“That’s huge for a guy like that, especially, to come out and say something like that,” Moncrief said. “It shows you that he trusts in you and he knows you can make plays. So I’ve just got to make those plays for him.”
Where Moncrief caught only three of the 10 pass targeted to him for 7 yards — and was credited with four dropped passes — Roethlisberger put the season-opening loss at New England squarely on his own shoulders.
After drawing criticism last season for publicly calling out receivers Antonio Brown and James Washington on his radio show after the loss at Denver that started a three-game losing streak, the Steelers’ 16th-year quarterback steadfastly refused to blame his teammates. Instead, Roethlisberger took blame for his own performance in the 33-3 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champions Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
“They’ve been the best team in football for a while now. I think everybody is trying to chase them. We weren’t good enough, and we’ve got to get better,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m only going to focus on the quarterback play because that’s what I control. The quarterback’s got to get better.”
Roethlisberger completed 27 of 47 passes for 276 yards with an interception for a 65.6 passer rating, as the Steelers were 3 of 12 on third-down conversions and Moncrief dropped a pass on a crucial fourth-and-1 at the New England 47 late in the second quarter.
Moncrief was expected to be a major addition to the offense after signing a two-year, $9 million free-agent deal this offseason. But he dislocated the middle finger on his left hand in training camp in late July, although he wouldn’t use that as an excuse for his performance. Roethlisberger said he still believes in Moncrief and hopes his faith will be rewarded when the Steelers play the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in their home opener at Heinz Field.
“Nothing’s changed with that,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s a smart receiver. He’s a guy that’s going to give you everything he’s got. He’s a veteran guy that’s been around. He can run different routes, not just a deep-ball guy. I really just like the personality that he has. He’s a guy that’s easy to talk to and will communicate back with you. I’m excited for this week. I’m looking forward to big things.
“I’m not discouraged at all. If you saw the game, you saw that I’m not going to shy away from throwing it to him.”
Roethlisberger said he is looking forward to a clean slate this week against the Seahawks — and not just for Steelers receivers.
“That’s me included,” Roethlisberger said. “I threw an interception, and I wasn’t the most accurate passer. I’m not thinking about that this week. I’m thinking about moving forward and how do we get better and how do we make plays? To me, it doesn’t matter who it is. I’m going into this like nothing happened in the past. I’m going to throw it to hopefully the guy that’s open and they’ll just make plays for me.”
Moncrief, meantime, has every intention of putting the drops behind him and focusing on making plays in the future.
“That’s a good thing,” Moncrief said. “He believes in me, and I believe in myself. I just had some drops I shouldn’t have had and I know I can’t make those. I’ve got to get better with that.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .