Ben Roethlisberger had his weekly meeting with the media Wednesday. Here's what the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers had to say about playing the Patriots and other issues.
What about the challenge about going up there and playing those guys?
They're still the New England Patriots. We were watching film of them and Byron (Leftwich) said, ‘I don't think I've ever beaten the Patriots.' I started thinking about it, I think I've only beat them once. I'm 1-4 or 1-5. That's just who they are. They're a great football team. Just because the names and faces are different doesn't mean that anything has changed for them.
Hines (Ward) was saying there were some plays to be made last year, the execution was just a little off.
Yeah. I watched the game of last year. We were a little off. A lot of it was me, just little things here and there. They are things I think we can make corrections on and get better at and hopefully the result is different.
Why will you beat them this year?
Everybody's scrapping right now in the AFC. Everybody's one game apart, two games apart. This is a dogfight from both teams. We're going to have to go up and scrap. It's hard to play up there. It's going to be truly a big matchup and it's going to be tough. If we don't turn the ball over and we play good football, we can be successful.
When you look at what (Matt) Cassel, are you surprised at what he's been able to do?
I'm not surprised. He's been in that system for a while. He's a great quarterback and it's fun to see quarterbacks succeed because it's the same position. I'm glad he could prove a lot of the doubters wrong who said they couldn't win without Tom Brady. It's fun to see him do it. I just hope he doesn't do it this week.
But going from high school to college with no starts in between, that's pretty bizarre.
It is. That would be crazy. That's why I'm saying you have to give him a lot of credit for stepping in there. I think he probably struggled a little bit early, but I think he's doing a great job now and he's winning football games for them.
What did (Chad) Pennington and others do against their secondary? It looks vulnerable now.
They've had some injuries and any time you're playing with new guys, there's always some uncertainty at times. They're still a great team. They bring a lot of blitzes, move guys around a lot. It's going to be a big challenge for myself and Justin (Hartwig) to identify guys.
Can you use the pass to set up the run?
The big thing is not to force the issue. I don't think we want to say we're going to run it 20 times in a row just to get 100 yards. We have to take what they give us and work the ball down the field, whether it's short passes, long passes, screens, run plays, just continue to work the ball down the field and possess the ball. The last couple of games, we've really held onto the ball a lot. You know what? It will come, whether it's this week or whenever that is, it will be there and it will be strong.
Is your screen game evolving?
Last week was the first week we really got it going with a couple of good plays. We've always been pretty good at it in the past. We kind of lost a bit of it. It seems like we're starting to, hopefully, get it back.
Is this game a rivalry?
I call it a rivalry game just from the simple fact it's a must-win for both teams. They're not in the AFC North and we're not in the (AFC) East, but it's an AFC game and we need this win.
What about having such a veteran group of guys around you?
Everyone knows defense wins championships and we've got a lot of veteran guys on defense that have been through this. It's time for the veterans to step up and show what it's all about. The rookies have to push through that wall that I hit, that all of us hit. It's a crucial time of the season.
Is it fun?
Absolutely, this is what it's all about.
The days off you've had this year, is that something that will allow you to finish stronger than you did last year?
I hope so and I think so. I think (coach Mike Tomlin) feels that. It will help us. Not hitting as much will help. I've talked to a lot of the linemen and guys and they've said the same thing. Not having the pads on and not hitting throughout the week is really paid a big toll on their legs and is really helping out a lot.
Will you possibly run a little more?
They had a couple of plays this week where they're going to line me up at running back because I looked so elusive back there. People wanted to make a big deal about me not running because of my shoulder. But you take what they give you. If it's there, I'll take it, if it's not, I won't.