Ben: I had a bad day

Ben Roethlisberger hinted that he may not be at full strength, but he's expected to bounce back strong Sunday.

PITTSBURGH – The last time Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a passer rating like the one he had Sunday in the 18-12 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, he bounced back with a razor-sharp performance against the San Diego Chargers in last season's playoffs.

"He's been outstanding in bouncing back," said his offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians.

That's been the case – at least when Roethlisberger's healthy. There are questions today about his health after he sat out parts of Thursday's practice with a wrapped right elbow.

Roethlisberger was asked prior to practice whether an arm problem was the reason he had underthrown several deep balls against the Bengals.

"I hope not," he said.

Roethlisberger completed half of his 40 passes Sunday for a season-low 174 yards, 4.4 yards per attempt and 51.5 passer rating. It was the only game this season in which he did not throw a touchdown pass, and he took all the blame for the team's poor performance.

"I had a bad day," he told a group of reporters at his locker. "I know everyone here has had a bad day. Everyone has written a bad story or said something they didn't mean. Flat out, I had a bad day and it's going to happen sometimes. No excuse, but those days will happen sometimes. You have to learn to correct it, you know. I think we will."

Arians pointed out that a single Johnathan Joseph fingertip disrupted a pass thrown to Santonio Holmes in the end zone with 16 seconds left in the first half. If completed, the play would've been celebrated as a Super Bowl XLIII redux by the very people now questioning the passer about his poor game. Instead, the ball clanged off Holmes's left hand and landed as a near-miss.

Roethlisberger put it on his shoulders.

"Actually, at the beginning of the game I didn't feel great, my arm didn't feel good, whatever," he said. "But the first drive we connected and went down the field. I had a scramble, hit a couple of completions and I kind of thought, ‘Good, I shook that funk off,' but it never quite came around."

Arians sensed his quarterback was off, and thought the no-huddle would shake it, but the Steelers couldn't stick with it.

They used the approach three different times in the second quarter. The first time, a pair of first-down completions was stopped by an injury timeout and wasn't resumed when facing third-and-six.

The second no-huddle approach was stopped after a first-down incompletion. The third was halted after a holding penalty.

Arians was asked if the Bengals did anything unique defensively.

"Not really," he said. "They do a very nice job with their blitz package – show blitz, play coverage. (Bengals defensive coordinator Mike) Zim(mer) has always done a real good job with that. We protected most of the game fairly well, some to a degree where we kept too many blockers in and not enough receivers out. We had it all blocked up and nowhere to throw it. And it's catch-22 when you get these new zone-blitz combinations teams are using this year. They had a nice package. We still had plays to make. A fingertip knocks a touchdown pass away that could've been the deciding play of the game. We don't run it well enough on the five, we lose three.

"It was collective rather than one guy."

Roethlisberger begged to differ.

"When your quarterback has a bad game it kind of affects the whole offense," he said. "It's unfortunate but that's why you can't afford to have bad games."

Roethlisberger's last "bad game" was against the Cleveland Browns on the last day of the 2008 season. He had a passer rating that day of 58.6, and of course went on a bit of a run after that one.

"He takes it personal, like all of us," said Arians. "He can't wait to play the next one."

NOTES – Troy Polamalu (knee) and Travis Kirschke (calf) missed Thursday's practice and aren't expected to play Sunday in Kansas City.

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