Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Bruce Banner and The Hulk. Road Ben and Home Ben.
There, does that pretty much explain it? I’ve heard one excuse after another as to why Ben Roethlisberger is so darn good at home and so darn pedestrian on the road. He can communicate better at home… He’s just more comfortable at home… He doesn’t sleep well in hotels in other cities… I really don’t know to tell you the honest truth but theres one thing I know for sure; the Steelers will only go as far as Big Ben takes them.
Take away two of the four interceptions yesterday and consider how different the game is. There’s no guarantee the Steelers score more points but their chances increase and they also (more than likely) take more time off the clock. Everything that this team needed to be successful was in place in Cleveland. The defense was very good. The special teams were more than adequate sans Chris Boswell’s miss and the running game was clearly very good with James Conner’s huge day.
So the finger points back to number seven doesn’t it? For all of the great he’s accomplished resting on his laurels doesn’t mean a thing right now. He has to take better care of the ball both in throwing it and in just hanging onto it period. This has always been part of the give and take with Roethlisberger. He keeps plays alive and in turn usually one of two things happen, he makes a big time play or he turns it over. At his age he isn’t going to suddenly change how he plays despite the glaring need to be better with ball security.
I firmly believe a significant portion of his problems in Cleveland were related to such limited action in the preseason. Much like the style in which he plays there are drawbacks to Mike Tomlin’s preseason handling of Roethlisberger. We all understand the need to keep him healthy but he’s always been a guy that relies on game action to stay at his best in terms of timing and rhythm. So ya, I think rust was a problem yesterday.
With 15 more games to go I can’t sit here and tell you the running game will always look as good as yesterday and I can’t tell you the same for the defense either so I hate to make it sound like it’s all on Roethlisberger. The good news is that he almost always bounces back and especially when he plays at home where the Steelers will be this weekend. That’s the short term. The long term requires better decision-making and better overall play or the Steelers of 2018 aren’t going anywhere.
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