“Don’t worry about it,” Roethlisberger said. “You have to move on and put that behind you.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers should be thinking the same way after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs, 23-13.
Villanueva, making his first career NFL start in place of injured Kelvin Beachum, gave up a sack just before the two-minute warning to Tamba Hali, who stripped quarterback Landry Jones of the ball and the Chiefs recovered.
Chances are, even if the Steelers score on that drive, it wouldn’t have mattered in what turned out to be a 23-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. But that didn’t mean Villanueva didn’t take it hard.
“When you give up a sack and put them in a drive to win the game, and it’s a strip-fumble, it’s a terrible feeling,” said Villanueva.
The group to feel terrible after this game, however, should have been the defense.
Yes, the Steelers stopped the Chiefs three times in the red zone in the first half. But they allowed Chiefs to drive the length of the field three times, failing to force a punt.
“Early on, as a defense, we stood up in the red zone,” said defensive end Cameron Heyward. “(But) we can’t allow a team to keep driving and keep getting into the red zone. We’ve got to get a lot better. I think we will. It’s just one game. I’m not going to say it dictates our season.
“Too many times, we missed tackles; too many times, we were late on blitzes. It’s hard to win in this league as it is. When you don’t do the things you’re supposed to do, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage.”
Especially when you have a quarterback and left tackle making their first career starts.
Roethlisberger is expected back next Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field, so, with any luck, the Steelers won’t have to see Jones make his second career start anytime soon.
As for Villanueva, talking to Roethlisberger and other teammates will help him keep things in perspective.
“He played a great game,” said guard David DeCastro. “The guy made one play late in the game. You can keep a guy quiet the whole game and he makes one play when they’ve got their ears pinned back. He’s fine. He’ll beat himself up. That’s his personality. That’s the NFL. It’s one week. You’ve got to move on.”
The Steelers should remember that as a team.
* The main line of questioning in the locker room following this game focused mainly on the probable return of Roethlisberger next week and how the Steelers should be happy they went 2-2 without their leader.
Some of the guys weren’t buying that.
“No,” said Heyward when asked if it was good to go 2-2 without Roethlisberger. “Every team has injuries. Every team is going through their own things. For us to do that, would be stupid and makes us whiners if we say, ‘Feel sorry for me because we didn’t have all of our people.’”
Or, as Le’Veon Bell put it when asked if he felt OK about being 4-3, “I wish we were 7-0.”
* Jones was OK in his first career start, 16 of 29 for 209 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. One of his interceptions came on a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Justin Houston, went through the hands of Antonio Brown and into those of diving safety Eric Berry.
“The guy made a great play getting his hands out and tipping the ball,” said Brown, who caught six passes for 124 yards. “That made the ball bounce up on me while I was making the catch and the guy made a great play.
“The trajectory of the ball changed, but I’ve got to make play in that situation.”
* Mike Tomlin attempted a pair of fourth-down conversions in the first half, making the first on a run by DeAngelo Williams but failing on the second on a Williams run.
The first conversion set up a field goal by Chris Boswell that tied the game at 3-3. But Tomlin opted against kicking a field goal to potentially tie the game at 6-6 from the Kansas City 32 in the second quarter.
“It was one yard,” said Tomlin. “We’ve got to be aggressive under the circumstances we were in. I don’t apologize for that. I felt good about it. They made a nice play.”