After possibly their worst game of the season so far, the Pittsburgh Steelers returned back to the practice field on Wednesday. This week features a monumental matchup against the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens. Ravens week has always been a big week in Pittsburgh, but this week seems to have a bit more urgency behind it after a 31-point loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. As he does every Wednesday, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spent some time with the media to discuss last week, what he’s looking for in practice this week, and what he sees in this week’s opponent.
To lead off, Roethlisberger was asked about last week’s performance. Roethlisberger explained his thoughts very simply:
“You know what, someone once said, ‘games like this are like bubblegum; you chew them for a little bit then spit them out.’ That’s kind of what we’re doing; moving on, so I have no comments about last week because it is bubblegum that’s been spit out.”
Although that is the right mentality to have, it is without question there have to be changes in almost every aspect of the team. Last week was bad at every level. When asked how he thinks the team responded after losing to the Los Angeles Chargers, Roethlisberger explained:
“We all have bad days. Every single person in here or around here has had a bad day at one point or another. It was a bad day for me, it was a bad day for the offense, you got to move on.”
With the season now making the turn into December, it doesn’t need to be said about the weight each game now holds in determining who makes and misses the playoffs. When asked if this week is a must-win game, Roethlisberger said:
“It is. Everything moving forward has to be that way, that’s the hole we put ourselves in that every game has to be the most important game of the year and we all need to approach it that way.”
When asked about that hole the team is in and if they are focused on making a deep, late season run for the playoffs, Roethlisberger explained:
“We can’t worry about making runs; we have to worry about winning one game. If we sit there and look at, ‘okay, we got this many games left, we have to finish with this record’, then you’re looking past the right here and now. That’s the most important thing for us right now, is this game this week this opponent, and you just have to let everything fall into place from there one week at a time.”
With that being said, everything is magnified for each player moving forward. Every play in every practice and every game means more as we get later in the season. Roethlisberger was asked about what he conveys to the team at this point in the season:
“Hopefully you don’t have to say much, but just reminding guys that the little things matter; you know little details. Things like being early to practice, early to walk-through’s, early to meetings, just the little details are always important.”
We’ve heard multiple Steelers alumni speak up this week talking about the changes Steelers culture compared to what it was. Those comments stemmed from an earlier quote from Chase Claypool saying that he thinks there should be more music played at practice. Roethlisberger is one of the few, if not only, current player who has seen both sides. In 2004 when Roethlisberger came into the organization, he was blessed with the presence of owner Dan Rooney, Hall-of-Fame coach Bill Cowher, and some of the best supporting cast in arguably all of football. Naturally, Roethlisberger as asked about the music comments and what he is doing to carry that legacy on:
“It was always Mr. [Dan] Rooney,” he said about music in the locker room and at practice. “It was always that way. I don’t know why, it just always was (no music at practice), and I think as guys started to leave the locker room that had that tradition, that history, I tried to keep it going, Brett Keisel kept it going for a while, we had [Maurkice] Pouncey and guys like that who kept it going, and I always told guys, because (new) people would play music and I would shut it down; I was the grumpy old man that didn’t want music and I had a conversation with guys like Cam Heyward and Vince Williams and I told them the reason that we don’t do it, is because if Mr. Rooney came in that locker room, you had to listen to him. You wanted to hear the things he had to say, whether it was about the Steelers, about life, just about whatever. He was like a grandfather to all of us and so much love for him. Obviously as new guys came in and Mr. Rooney wasn’t around, they don’t understand that quite as much, so we tried to pass it on. And even after he [Rooney] passed, I just still wait for him to walk through that door to come talk to you and you just want to listen because he was so soft spoken but it was so wise. So that was always my thing of why I didn’t want the music because you never had it when he was around and I wanted to carry that on and the last couple of years I just kind of relented and stopped being the grumpy guy.”
Needless to say, each player will be put on notice this week in practice as they prepare for a tough matchup this Sunday.
What do you think of music at practice this week? What are you looking for in the Ravens game preparation? Let us know in the comments!