Bills are Taken Care Of
PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger, with his son, little Ben, in his arms, was having a conversation with a team official as the media cleared out of the Steelers’ locker room.
Roethlisberger had just adamantly told the press how a pregame report of his unhappiness in Pittsburgh was erroneous and reiterated a few times of how he wants to be a Steeler for life.
The reports said Roethlisberger didn’t like the direction the Steelers were headed after their 2-6 start to this season and would request a trade in the offseason. But even if Roethlisberger was unhappy, he had to like how the Steelers whipped the Buffalo Bills, 23-10, at Heinz Field on Sunday.
“We took a good step today to win a game,” Roethlisberger said. “Next week, we are 0-0 looking for our first win again.”
Actually, the Steelers are now 3-6 and surprisingly are just two games back in the loss column in the AFC North Division with seven games remaining. Cincinnati is 6-4, and Cleveland and Baltimore are both 4-5.
The Steelers play host the Detroit Lions at 1 p.m. next Sunday before facing division foes in four of the final six games.
“It’s way to early to tell (if we’re relevant again),” Roethlisberger said. “We are just happy we got this win.”
The report of Roethlisberger’s unhappiness came from an NFL.com writer Sunday morning. Roethlisberger said he didn’t know about the report until he was on the sideline near the end of the contest.
During the game, Roethlisberger’s agent, Ryan Tollner, and Steelers president Art Rooney II issued statements saying how the 10-year NFL quarterback is committed to the Steelers winning another championship and that the Steelers will not be seeking to trade him.
“I love it here,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m happy here. I don’t want to go anywhere. No one in my family, our camp, agents, no one has ever said anything about (being unhappy). Wherever this was made up from is totally false.”
The NFL.com story said Roethlisberger will be a big salary cap hit for the Steelers next season and that the Arizona Cardinals would be a team willing to trade for the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
“I’m a Pittsburgher,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ve told people that. I’m so proud to raise my kids here. I want to finish my career here, however long that is. I don’t want to play for anybody else.”
Roethlisberger led a Steelers offense Sunday that somewhat resembled the Pittsburgh teams of the past. The Steelers ran the ball 19 times in the first half on a windy day with temperatures in the mid-40s.
They finished the game with 33 rushing attempts for 136 yards and 30 passing attempts for 204 yards. They also converted 8-of-17 third-down opportunities.
The Steelers gained a 17-3 third-quarter advantage on the offensively impaired Bills (3-6) by cashing in on a few big plays in the second quarter.
- A 25-yard Emmanuel Sanders run out of the wildcat formation set up a 36-yard Shaun Suisham field goal that tied the game at 3-3 early in the second quarter.
- A 34-yard shovel pass from Roethlisberger to running back Le’Veon Bell led to a 5-yard touchdown reception by Jerricho Cotchery before halftime.
- A 40-yard Roethlisberger-to-Antonio Brown pass play and an encroachment penalty against the Bills helped Bell score on a 4-yard run in the third quarter.
“I think Pittsburgh, offensively, they did a nice job on third down,” Bills coach Doug Marrone said. “I thought they kept the chains moving at a pretty good pace. They had some big plays that caught us, big chunk plays that put us in a tough situation.”
The Steelers defense, which was scorched for 55 points last Sunday in New England, held the Bills to 227 yards and without a touchdown until the final seconds of the game. Buffalo converted just 3-of-14 third-down chances and punted nine times in the game.
The defense and special teams also set up fourth-quarter field goals for the Steelers with safety Ryan Clark returning an interception 37 yards, and Brown, who caught six passes for 104 yards, taking back a punt 50 yards.
“Like I was telling Ryan (Clark), it feels good to win,” Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. “It was really nice to play well on defense and get a win.”
The dominating victory created a more relaxed atmosphere in the locker room after the game. It also helped Roethlisberger’s denial of his unhappiness seem believable.
“I am not quitting on anything – this season, this team or these fans,” Roethlisberger said. “I am going to give everything I have. This is home.”