PITTSBURGH -- After Ben Roethlisberger scrambled to his right on third-and-2 and heaved a 48-yard bomb to Markus Wheaton, running back DeAngelo Williams walked back to the huddle and said to guard Ramon Foster, "Man, this guy's good."
Roethlisberger was certainly good, probably even great, on this day. He came close to notching his fourth perfect passer rating but finished just short at 155.8. Roethlisberger is one of seven players with multiple perfect games. He has three, his last one coming against the St. Louis Rams in 2007, his first coming against the Rams' current coach, Jeff Fisher, when Fisher coached the Tennessee Titans in 2005. Roethlisberger also "pitched" a perfect game against the Baltimore Ravens in 2007.
This past week's performance might not have been "perfect," but it was good enough to get Roethlisberger the AFC Offensive Player of the Week. Perhaps more importantly it tied him with Terry Bradshaw for most wins in Steelers history with 107. Roethlisberger can stand alone with a win Sunday in St. Louis.
Is that the most important stat in football?
"Well, Super Bowls," said Roethlisberger. "But you get to Super Bowls by wins."
Roethlisberger ranks those 107 wins second to Super Bowl wins. And passer rating?
Roethlisberger just laughed. "Don't really care much about it, truthfully," he said. "The only thing that stats mean is if you have better stats usually you're winning. So certain things correlate to winning, but at the end of the day it's all about winning."
That's what Williams was thinking when he signed with the Steelers in the off-season. He expected a winning team because of the winning quarterback, and yet he was still amazed during the game by Roethlisberger.
"It wasn't that I was amazed," said Williams. "He's a gamer, man, definitely a gamer. I've seen it in practice, but seeing it transition over from the practice field to the game field and everything just lining up, man, and him just knocking it out of the park -- literally knocking it out of the park -- is what amazed me, just seeing our hard work and our effort and everything that we've done in practice just show up on the game field."
Sometimes it takes a newcomer to put greatness back into perspective, because it's possible that after 11-plus seasons the fans, the media, maybe even the players in Pittsburgh have begun taking Roethlisberger for granted.
"I was talking about this with someone the other day," said kicker Josh Scobee, another newcomer. "It certainly is fun to watch him because he operates on a different level. I've been with a lot of young quarterbacks the last few years and he just operates on a completely different level than them, on and off the field."
Off the field?
"He runs the show," Scobee said. "He is the one that people respect, they go to. You expect that, or you think that would be the stereotypical player people would go to, but it's not always like that. But you can tell that's him here."
Like reaching out to Martavis Bryant.
Roethlisberger has either called or texted the troubled wide receiver every day that he's been in a Houston rehab facility.
"He's upbeat," Roethlisberger said of Bryant. "He's ready to get back. He's ready to help this team, to help this city, to get back to us, his family, where he belongs. I'm encouraged by what he's doing and the work he's doing, because like I told him getting yourself right as a man is more important than football, and so he's doing that and he's taking pride, great pride, in it, just like he does with his football. We're excited for him."
Some so-called leaders may not take such an interest in a four-time loser. But Roethlisberger does care. In fact, he's been in those shoes. And he's grown from it. Even in his response to a question about the return of Le'Veon Bell this week, Roethlisberger showed respect for the man who took Bell's place and then he took media -- and presumably the fans -- through the spectrum of a hopeful season as well. Here was his full reply:
"I think DeAngelo's done such a great job. There's no denying that," Roethlisberger started. "But to get one of your guys back, it just kind of does a little something extra to the locker room. And I'm sure it does a little something to other teams' locker rooms, too. But to get someone like Le'Veon back who can work with DeAngelo, work with all of us, really kind of picks us up. And it'll be the same thing when we get Martavis back. I'm sure it'll be another uplifter for everybody, and then (Maurkice) Pouncey down the road. It'll be key for us to keep that arrow pointing up."
Scobee wasn't even in that media scrum, but he sees Roethlisberger's leadership as clear as day.
"I've been around quite a few that are just different personalities," Scobee said. "Some people are born that way and some people have to try really hard to be that way. You can tell he was born to lead."
And he was born to win.
"Every team has good players, but some players just stand alone," said Williams. "Ben's one of those that stand alone."
One more win will make that official.
NOTES -- The Steelers released WR Tyler Murphy to make room for Bell on the 53-man roster. Murphy is expected to clear waivers and be re-signed to the practice squad. ... Missing practice Wednesday were CB William Gay (not injury related), DT Daniel McCullers (knee) and LB Ryan Shazier (shoulder).