Q&A: Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger talked to Pittsburgh reporters Wednesday about his injured thumb, the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the upcoming against against the Chicago Bears and what he thought was a dirty hit by Odell Thurman.

Q: Coming off three losses in a row, what's the confidence level on the team?

A: We have to have a high confidence level because if we don't, we'll just get run over. We have to come out and play as good as we know we are. We know we're good, offensively, defensively and on special teams. We just need to come out and play that way.

Q: How important is it to get the running game going?

A: It's important for us because that's the mentality of this team. We're a physical team, we like to run the ball so it would be nice to be able to get that phase of the game going again.

Q: How impressed are you with the Bears?

A: Very. There's a reason why they're the best defense in the NFL, maybe the best ever. They're fast, they're physical and they're always around the ball.

Q: Do they blitz a lot?

A: They do blitz a little. That's what makes them so good. They throw blitzes at you, sometimes they don't. They've got a bunch of guys who believe in what they do.

Q: Your tackles are pretty banged up; any concern there?

A: There's always concern when your offensive line is banged up. They're the ones who get things started. It doesn't help when those guys are banged up. Hopefully we can get them back as soon as we can.

Q: How banged up is your thumb?

A: It's pretty bad. It's not painful, but it's been worse and it's been better.

Q: Is there a slight break in there?

A: You know I can't comment on that.

Q: Are you one shot away with it from being out of the game?

A: What am I going to say? You're always one shot away regardless of the hand thing. Whether it's a knee or an ankle, whatever. Anything you hit wrong, you're done.

Q: How did the splint and glove work for you and will you do the same thing this week?

A: We'll do that the rest of the way. I can't take snaps without it. I can't grip the ball if I don't wear it. John Norwig, the trainer, actually came up with something that takes the pressure off and puts it on my wrist so I can grip the ball better than if I didn't have it on. We're going to have to do it the rest of the way with the glove.

Q: Does it really affect you on the deep balls?

A: It's pretty much every pass because I can't put much pressure on my thumb. It makes the ball wobble more and have not quite as tight a spiral. If we have a windy day, we're going to have to find a way to get a tight spiral. The one I threw to Ced (Wilson), I told him, sorry about that, I threw it as far as I could. It just affects the throw.

Q: But on the touchdown pass, you gunned it in there.

A: Sometimes adrenaline takes over.

Q: It looked like you hurt yourself when you braced yourself that one time.

A: That was one of the things we talked about when I talked to the hand doctor. He said 'Whatever you do, don't fall. If you're going to fall, fall on your shoulder, go all the way down. Don't put your hand down.' That's kind of hard to tell someone to do. I put my hand down, it made it pretty painful and then obviously the next throw was an interception. I've just got to be more careful not to injure it.

Q: What about (Odell) Thurman's hit on your knee? What did you think of that?

A: I'm looking down the field. I threw the ball to Hines (Ward) early. I tried to let my body go limp so I could go down so I wouldn't hurt my knee. From what I heard, he said he got pushed or tripped or something. But anytime you go low on a quarterback, you know it's a little dirty.

Q: How important is it for you to get a lead early?

A: We need to get a lead early and let our defense take over. If we can get up by three, seven, 10, we'll have a good chance of being able to control the game.

Q: Both of your starting offensive tackles are banged up. Can you talk about the importance of having them in there?

A: Any time you're missing offensive linemen, especially starters, it's tough. And when you don't have your starting left tackle, he's your blind side protector. We'll be thankful to get him back. But I'll tell you what, Trai Essex has done a great job of filling in and stepping up. He's gone against some great defensive ends in the games he's been in, so I have to give him a lot of credit.

Q: Guys have said they weren't on the same page. How can that be at this point in the season?

A: I think it hurts when you have the injuries and you're rotating guys in. We've had changes on the offensive line. We've had three quarterbacks in the past five or six games. It's been tough. Not to make excuses, but we need to rally together these last four games.

Q: Are you going to need surgery on the thumb in the offseason?

A: We don't know yet. If it doesn't get any better, we may have to.


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