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Steelers

Roethlisberger: 'I had to suck it up' in 2nd half of Steelers vs. Falcons

Joe Rutter
| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, 2:06 p.m.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws the ball to the end zone but is picked off by the Falcons’ Damontae Kazee in the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws the ball to the end zone but is picked off by the Falcons’ Damontae Kazee in the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 at Heinz Field.

If Ben Roethlisberger looked like an improved quarterback in the second half Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, it was because he recognized a previous elbow injury was hurting his throwing motion.

On his weekly 93.7 FM radio segment Tuesday, Roethlisberger said he adjusted his mechanics at halftime, which helped him complete 10 of 12 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns in the second half of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 41-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

“The second half, I had a talk with myself and said I had to suck it up and deliver the ball like I need to and force my way through it,” Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger hooked up with Antonio Brown on touchdown passes of 9 and 47 yards in the second half, the latter one on a deep pass down the left sideline. He had a perfect 158.3 passer rating after intermission.

It was marked improvement from the first half when Roethlisberger completed 9 of 17 passes for 95 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a 64.6 passer rating.

“I was just dealing with a little bit of an elbow issue,” Roethlisberger said. “It made me drop my elbow a little bit for the comfort factor, which causes the ball to sail.”

Roethlisberger injured his elbow late in overtime of the season opener against Cleveland on a strip sack. Roethlisberger missed two days of practice that week and has not practiced Wednesdays in subsequent weeks.

“We’ve been dealing with it,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s something I need to mentally get over in terms of my throwing motion. I’ve got to keep the arm high to keep the ball driving instead of sailing, that’s all.”

On his show, Roethlisberger also lobbied for running back James Conner to get regular carries once Le’Veon Bell rejoins the team, which could happen next week, according to an ESPN report.

Conner rushed for 110 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns Sunday. He also caught four passes for 75 yards.

Conner ranks seventh in the NFL in rushing with 384 yards. He ranks eighth with 581 yards from scrimmage.

“I don’t think we put him on the shelf by any means,” Roethlisberger said. “Granted, I think Le’Veon is one of the best in the business, and we can all understand that and agree on that. What James needs to understand is, he needs to say the right things and he should. He’s a younger guy with a veteran awesome football player ahead of him.

“But when Le’Veon comes back, in no way, shape or form should James just say, ‘It’s all yours. I’m going to sit back and when you need me, use me.’

“I will push for James to get as much as he can. We’ve see great things from him in all phases of football. He’s picking up blitzes, he’s catching the ball, he’s running hard, he’s making plays, and he’s playing with a passion.

“We need to keep using that.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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