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Steelers

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger says he's 'still one of the best'

Joe Rutter
| Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, 11:57 a.m.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stands on the sideline next to Landry Jones after throwing his fifth interception against the Jaguars Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stands on the sideline next to Landry Jones after throwing his fifth interception against the Jaguars Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walks from the field after throwing an interception returned for a touchdown by the Jaguars' Telvin Smith during the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walks from the field after throwing an interception returned for a touchdown by the Jaguars' Telvin Smith during the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, at Heinz Field.
The Jaguars' Dante Fowler Jr. grabs Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Jaguars' Dante Fowler Jr. grabs Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017 at Heinz Field.

Upon further review, Ben Roethlisberger not only thinks he still has it, he is as confident as ever in his quarterback skills.

Roethlisberger backtracked from his “maybe I don't have it anymore” proclamation on his 93.7 FM radio segment Tuesday, saying his words were spoken out of frustration from throwing a career-high five interceptions in the Steelers' 30-9 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field.

The defeat dropped the Steelers to 3-2 heading into their game Sunday at 5-0 Kansas City, the NFL's only remaining unbeaten team.

“You wake up Monday morning, and you realize I'm still one of the best in the world at doing what I do,” Roethlisberger said. “I'm going to have that confidence when I go out there Wednesday to practice and Sunday when we go to Kansas City.

“I have the belief that I'm one of the best that's ever done it and the best that's ever played this position. You have to have that confidence, and that's what I'm going to have.”

The 35-year-old Roethlisberger will enter the pivotal game in Kansas City as the NFL's 28th-rated passer with career lows in yards per attempt and yards per completion. He also will be coming off one of the worst games of his 14-year career.

The Jaguars returned two interceptions for touchdowns, turning a 9-7 deficit into a 20-9 advantage. Four of Roethlisberger's interceptions were thrown in the second half.

It also was the first time Roethlisberger didn't throw a touchdown pass in 46 home games, and it was the first time in nearly eight years that the Steelers didn't score at least one touchdown in a home game.

“I know Ben. I've known Ben 11 years,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “I know the competitor he is. I know his level of confidence. What he says after a five-interception performance, moments after a five-interception performance, probably is not reflective of who he is and how he feels.

“It wasn't reflective of who he is and how he felt when he walked in here (Monday). He looked like a guy who's ready to gun sling and get back at it. That's more in line with the guy I know and what I anticipate from him, and that's why I take those comments with a grain of salt.”

Tomlin noted Roethlisberger was pressured on the first interception he threw, a pass that was behind tight end Vance McDonald, and the second interception came after a deflected pass. The third interception was on a pass into triple coverage that a Jacksonville defender batted into the arms of safety Barry Church, who returned it 51 yards for a touchdown.

Tomlin said Roethlisberger's decision-making “could have been better, but it probably wasn't as catastrophic as the statistics bear out.”

After watching game film Monday, Roethlisberger had a better assessment of his play.

“Five interceptions are five interceptions,” Roethlisberger said. “You can't say there's nothing bad about it. You go back and look at each one individually, and it's kind of what you thought when it happened in the game: some bad luck and some good plays by them.”

Roethlisberger's poor season –- he has six touchdown passes against seven interceptions and a 75.8 rating that is the second worst of his career — comes on the heels of his admission in January that he would contemplate retirement in the offseason.

Given his slow start, Roethlisberger is facing questions about whether he is committed fully to the team this year.

“If you're asking me if my heart is still in it, I would say 100 percent,” Roethlisberger said. “If I didn't care, a game like last Sunday wouldn't bother me.”

The Steelers practice three days each week, beginning Wednesdays. Roethlisberger has not participated the past three Wednesday sessions, a day when the team typically has its weekly padded practice.

Roethlisberger didn't say whether he would practice all three days this week, but he did predict taking a gunslinger's mentality Sunday.

“I'm going to come out as a cowboy next week,” he said, “and go right back at it.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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