PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger makes no apologies for his 12 interceptions, tied with Ryan Fitzpatrick for second most in the NFL.
“Sometimes those things happen. I’m a quarterback that is going to go out and sling it,” Roethlisberger said on his weekly radio show Tuesday. “You talk about gunslinger or whatever you want to talk about. I’m not going to worry about interceptions. I hate doing them. They bother me. But I’m going to go out and play my game and try to help us win football games.”
Roethlisberger is putting up prolific numbers for the 7-3-1 Steelers, ranking second in the league with 3,664 passing yards and tied for seventh with 24 touchdowns. But he isn’t afraid to take chances, resulting in 55 interceptions in 52 regular-season games dating to 2015.
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He’s one of five quarterbacks with at least 50 interceptions during that span, including the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Blake Bortles (57 in 59 games), Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston (55 in 51), New York Giants’ Eli Manning (50 in 58) and Sunday’s opponent in Heinz Field, and Los Angeles Chargers’ Philip Rivers (50 in 59).
But Roethlisberger has the best record by far among that bunch, going 37-14-1 in those games, with 102 touchdowns. Only New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (44) has more wins since 2015.
The Steelers threw the ball 56 times compared with 16 runs Sunday, with Roethlisberger completing 41 passes for 462 yards. Roethlisberger said the game plan dictated more passing and the team didn’t need more run-pass balance.
The Steelers were in control Sunday in Denver with 527 offensive yards but lost 24-17 after Broncos nose tackle Shelby Harris intercepted a Roethlisberger pass at the goal line with 1:03 left. Roethlisberger wasn’t counting on Harris being near the ball, but the lineman got blocked back into the end zone. Roethlisberger called the play “kinda crazy” and flukish. Corner Chris Harris Jr. was in the line of the ball while covering Antonio Brown, and Roethlisberger said he told Brown he needed to run a “flatter” route to avoid getting undercut.
On an interception by Chris Harris earlier in the game, Roethlisberger said Brown was being held.
Coach Mike Tomlin said he’s concerned with his team’s minus-7 turnover ratio the past two weeks but not with Roethlisberger’s decision-making.
“Ben is just part of it. He’s not solely responsible for our inability to maintain possession of the ball,” Tomlin said. “He wasn’t carrying the ball into the end zone and fumbling it for a touchback. He just needs to continue to be thoughtful about the preservation of the ball, like he always is, and understand the responsibility that comes with being our signal-caller. I don’t see any issues in that area. But us, collectively, need to do a better job.”
The Steelers’ other two turnovers in Denver came on fumbles by Xavier Grimble and James Conner.
Roethlisberger also delivered a revealing quote Tuesday on his original goal-line plans, which did not include Brown.
The Steelers ran a fade for JuJu Smith-Schuster on first down, and Roethlisberger wanted to revisit that play on third down.
“I think we should have went to [Smith-Schuster] four straight plays,” Roethlisberger said.
Brown draws much attention from opposing defenses, and Smith-Schuster has capitalized with 1,055 yards and 77 catches, which lead the team. Brown has 71 catches for 874 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Roethlisberger will keep firing to both of those guys, plus the supporting cast of receivers and tight ends. He’ll continue trying to make plays, and give credit to defenders who make them, too.
“You can’t get caught up in the numbers and the stats,” Roethlisberger said.
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