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History shows Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger should bounce back

Joe Rutter
| Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, 11:15 a.m.

For the first time in his 14-year NFL career, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will see how he recovers from a five-interception performance.

Based on the way he has played the week after throwing three or four interceptions, Roethlisberger should expect a return to normalcy Sunday when the Steelers play the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

Nine times Roethlisberger has thrown three interceptions in a game. Twice he has been picked off four times. In the 11 games that ensued, the Steelers won eight times with Roethlisberger throwing a combined nine interceptions.

Since 2008, the Steelers are 6-0 in games following a three- or four-interception game by Roethlisberger, who has thrown just two picks combined in those six games.

Not a bad way to bounce back, although Roethlisberger doesn't like to use that term.

“Maybe it's I just had a bad day at the office the game before,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday. “That's the way I approach all of these things. I'm not a bad quarterback, by any means. I feel like when you have a bad day, you have a bad day.

“I don't want to sit here and say I bounced back. I think (the next game) is just how I (normally) play. I just had a bad week the week before. It's a glass half full or half empty thing.”

From either perspective, Roethlisberger is having an atypical season at age 35, which prompted him to proclaim “maybe I don't have it anymore” after the loss to Jacksonville.

Consider that he averaged 12.3 interceptions per season during his first 13 years in the NFL. The five interceptions thrown against the Jaguars increase Roethlisberger's total to seven through five games, a 22-interception pace.

Because Roethlisberger has shown the ability to shrug off poor performances, his teammates expect nothing less Sunday against the NFL's only unbeaten team.

“He's a Hall of Famer,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “Never question that.”

Pouncey is in his eighth season blocking for Roethlisberger, one more than right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who also anticipates a return to the norm from his quarterback.

“He's one of the toughest guys I've probably ever been around,” Gilbert said. “He looks at this and laughs at it. I call it his little mind games. You believe whatever you believe. I just know he's going to be ready when this Sunday comes around.”

Asked what he meant by “mind games,” Gilbert said: “If you want to believe that (Roethlisberger no longer has it), he'll let you believe that, then he'll go out there and have that five-touchdown, six-touchdown game.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the preparation won't change against Roethlisberger no matter how many interceptions he threw last weekend.

“We're getting ready to play a future Hall of Fame player,” he said. “That's what we're getting ready for. Anything less and you're thinking the wrong way. That's how we are going about it. We aren't looking at it any different than that. We don't care what anybody says or does, that's what we are getting ready for.

“I respect the heck out of him and the job he's done over the years.”

Many of Roethlisberger's three-plus interception games came early in his career. He had four such games in 2006, the season following his June motorcycle accident and when he had an emergency appendectomy just days before the start of the season.

The most recent time Roethlisberger threw three interceptions was in December on a snowy day at Buffalo. The next weekend at Cincinnati, Roethlisberger didn't throw an interception in a 24-20 win that extended the Steelers' late-season winning streak to five games.

Against Jacksonville, one of the interceptions was on a tipped pass and another was on a ball batted into the safety's hands. Both were returned for touchdowns.

Roethlisberger said he wouldn't alter his preparation for the Chiefs, although he did practice Wednesday after sitting out Wednesday practices the three previous weeks.

“Same routine,” he said. “I've been doing this for 14 years.”

Only once in Roethlisberger's career has he totaled more than five interceptions in a two-week span, and that occurred in 2006. So he knows how to limit damage in back-to-back games.

“But if you do (have two bad games), you do,” he said. “You can't dwell on it. You can't worry about it. You can't freak out and all of those things. The key is not to have two in a row. Just go out and do your job and realize you've been doing this for a long time and you're one of the best who's done it and do your business and take care of things.”

Gilbert anticipate nothing less from Roethlisberger on Sunday in Kansas City.

“He knows how to overcome adversity, and he's done that in the past,” Gilbert said. “I expect big (things) from 7 this weekend.”

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

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