Ben Isn't Learning The Hard Way

Ben Roethlisberger says he won't change, that he'll play every game like it's his last. Mike Prisuta wonders if that will be anytime soon.

Ben Roethlisberger's response was as predictable as his season has been painful.

So be it, the quarterback said on Wednesday.

"I play the game a certain way and I don't want to change that," Roethlisberger said. "People talk about getting the ball out of your hand faster, do this, do that. I've been playing this game pretty successfully for the last seven years. I've done a decent job and we've done a good job and the line's done a good job.

"We'll just play the game the way we know how."

Three times in that seven-year span Roethlisberger playing the game his way has resulted in a trip to the Super Bowl, and after two of those trips a parade has been staged.

So it hasn't been a bad way to play the game.

But playing the game that way this season has resulted in 14 sacks, three touchdown passes, five interceptions, four sack/strip/fumble recoveries for the defense, and two turnovers returned for a touchdown, although one was negated by a penalty. The calculator reports a passer rating of 80.2 for Roethlisberger through four games.

Contrast those numbers with those of Tennessee's Matt Hasselbeck, who would never be confused with a quarterback of Roethlisberger's caliber.

Hasselbeck can't get the ball downfield unless someone carries it there after catching a short, sideways pass. But he's only been sacked four times and has thrown for eight TDs, been picked three times and posts a passer rating of 104.0.

And I'll bet he wasn't wearing a walking boot when he greeted the media on Wednesday.

Sometimes getting it out quickly and surviving to do so again as necessary can prove to be a winning combination.

Assuming Roethlisberger can get the boot off by Sunday, he'll wear a shoe one size bigger than usual with a metal plate in the bottom to prevent his left foot from bending (the same hedge applied to last season's broken right foot).

Maybe next week he'll greet the media from a gurney.

Or, maybe the sprained foot and the banged-up offensive line that's being patched together with street free agents and the stunning ineffectiveness of a turnover-prone offense will convince Roethlisberger that in situations such as this the ball really does need to come out quickly.

He altered his game in accordance with the circumstances against Seattle following a five-turnover performance against Baltimore. That lasted through about one quarter the following week in Indy when the Steelers got away with what they never should have been attempting against Dwight Freeney.

And now, here we go again Big Ben.

The Texans don't have a Freeney or a Mario Williams. But Jason Jones sacked Roethlisberger three-and-a-half times in 2008 in Nashville, forcing three of Roethlisberger's four fumbles (the Steelers lost them all, and the game).

And based on that pounding Roethlisberger took in Houston, the Steelers' offensive line doesn't appear capable of pass-protecting against Deacon Jones let alone Jason Jones.

And Deacon Jones is 72 years old.

"I play every game like it's my last," Roethlisberger maintained. "I don't sit there and say, ‘OK, I'm going to play for year 15 or year 16.'

"If this is my last year this is my last year, that's the way I play the game. In that case it is what it is."

And in that case one of these years Roethlisberger is going to be right.

The hope is it won't be this year.

For Big Ben's sake and the Steelers'.


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