Ben takes the blame

Ben Roethlisberger took the blame for yet another sluggish offensive performance by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger completed 30 of 42 passes Sunday, spread the ball to seven different receivers, and moved into second place on the franchise's all-time passing yardage list.

And then he took the blame for the Steelers' 24-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

"If this was an individual sport and I lost the game, I wouldn't feel so bad," said a visibly shaken Roethlisberger. "Letting the guys down, letting your teammates down, it hurts.

"You never hear me say ‘I anything' but I lost this game. It hurts."

Roethlisberger actually took the blame in the middle of the week for the team's sluggish offensive performances of late. Then he missed most of the week's practices, came back Friday to lob the ball around the South Side, and even appeared weak-armed while warming up Sunday afternoon. But he got the start and pushed the Steelers to a 17-7 lead.

To that point, Roethlisberger had completed 12 of 17 for 153 yards without an interception, but then his performance turned. A short pass to Santonio Holmes, on third-and-2 from the Steelers' 16, was intercepted by Keiwan Ratliff with 1:30 left in the first half, and the Colts turned it into seven points, and trailed by only three at the break.

In the second half, the Steelers used very little fullback and tried to open up the passing game, but a goal-line stuff by undrafted rookie Eric Foster forced a field goal after the Steelers had reached the 1-yard line on first down.

The 20-17 lead didn't last long. Roethlisberger, on his next possession, was intercepted by Tim Jennings to set the Colts up at the Pittsburgh 32 with 4:44 left. Peyton Manning threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Dominic Rhodes and Roethlisberger was unable to bring the Steelers back. His fourth-down heave into the end zone with no time left was batted around and intercepted, Roethlisberger's third of the game.

On the back-breaking second interception, Roethlisberger, of course, accepted blame.

"(Holmes) did what he was supposed to do," Roethlisberger said. "He was supposed to stop and go back out, and I tried to get it to him quick and let him run with it, but I forgot he was going back out."

Roethlisberger was asked if his sore shoulder affected his performance.

"I'll never come back with an excuse," he said. "I don't care what it is: shoulder, thumb. No excuses. You have a game like that and it's disappointing."

What about the missed practices?

"I don't think it's that big of an issue because I'm taking the mental reps and I'm seeing everything that's going on out there, so it's not as tough as it may seem," he said.

Their first conference loss dropped the Steelers to 6-3. It was their second consecutive loss at home as they prepare to host the San Diego Chargers next Sunday.

"It's frustrating because you feel like you played well, and then the turnover at the end of the half, and the turnover at the end," Roethlisberger said. "It's frustrating. I take it on myself. I let the guys down, offense and defense, but the good thing, if there is one, is that it's not the end of the season. We'll come back and we've got another big one this week."

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