Roethlisberger: 'Everything will be OK' for Steelers
Three weeks ago in the days leading up to his third NFL start in a game against the mighty Patriots, Landry Jones stood up in a team meeting and said, “Don't panic.”
Though the precise circumstances — and the quarterback — have changed since, the need for the same message hasn't.
So Ben Roethlisberger delivered it Wednesday.
“Guys who've been here (a while),” Roethlisberger said, “know that (this is) no time — no reason — to panic.”
At 4-4, with the 7-1 Dallas Cowboys coming to town, on a three-game losing streak and with a hobbled leader in Roethlisberger, one might argue it is, indeed, time to panic. But Roethlisberger's career has been marked by some dramatic late-season turnarounds and strong finishes.
Perhaps that's why in a display belying how dire his team appears to be in, Roethlisberger was as relaxed and jovial as he has been all season during his weekly Wednesday morning session with the media. He seemed to acknowledge that was intentional, serving as a message to his teammates — a message of, paraphrasing, “Everything will be OK.”
Asked how he planned on setting the example properly toeing the line between ensuring the urgency required of a .500 team that still harbors Super Bowl aspirations and staying calm, Roethlisberger had a simple reply:
“Just watch me.”
Earlier, Roethlisberger was asked if he had a message for younger teammates who might be feeling distressed over a season that began with so much promise but has devolved into one with the potential to go off the proverbial rails:
That often has been sound advice for the Steelers in November and December.
They have gone 6-2 (or better) during the second half of nine of the 12 seasons Roethlisberger has been their quarterback. That includes six of the past eight years, under coach Mike Tomlin.
The Roethlisberger-era Steelers have several examples of breaking out of early- to mid-season slumps with strong finishes:
• In 2005, they needed a four-game winning streak to qualify for the postseason after a home loss to Cincinnati dropped them to 7-5. They went on to win Super Bowl XL.
• The next year, the Steelers won six of their final eight after a 2-6 start.
• After a 3-3 stretch midway through the 2010 campaign, the Steelers won six of their final seven and advanced to the Super Bowl.
• In 2013, the Steelers overcame a 0-4 start and sat at 2-6 before running off a pair of three-game winning streaks to gamely climb back to .500.
• An early-season malaise (3-3) two years ago transformed into an 11-5, division-champion campaign.
• And, last season, the Steelers were similarly at .500 at the season's midway point but won six of eight down the stretch and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs.
“I'm not thinking about the good, not thinking about the bad — or anything — on the first half of the season,” Roethlisberger said. “We're strictly moving forward, and we need to be the best football team that we can be.
“Everything we've done so far is behind us — good, bad and indifferent. We're excited for the second half of the football season.”
Be it the result of following Roethlisberger's lead or not, that philosophy seems to be permeating the Steelers locker room.
“We know he's going to do his things, and we know he's going to go out there and execute,” defensive co-captain Cameron Heyward said of Roethlisberger. “But as a defense, when we go against him we want to make sure he feels our urgency, as well. So there might be a little bit of presence felt, but if anything we want to match it or even go farther with it.”