PITTSBURGH -- A quarterback who won his first 13 NFL starts and was a two-time Super Bowl champion before the age of 28 is not accustomed to losing. So maybe it was no surprise that Ben Roethlisberger said after a 34-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings that the Pittsburgh Steelers might be the worst team in the NFL.
The comments raised a lot of eyebrows, but they sure beat the alternative.
Roethlisberger could have ripped into an offensive line that is a major reason why he is on pace to get sacked a whopping 60 times this season. He could have said he might have been able to complete an improbable and season-saving comeback in London had he gotten a little more help from his teammates.
And to be sure, Roethlisberger had to take some of the blame for the Steelers falling short at the end against the Vikings. He turned the ball over twice, and he took a sack and lost a fumble when the Steelers would have had one more chance to score a touchdown had Roethlisberger thrown the ball out of bounds.
But I thought his postgame comments showed true leadership. Roethlisberger didn’t try to put any sort of spin on the Steelers’ worst start since 1968. Instead, he essentially challenged everyone to take a long, honest look at themselves with the Steelers pushed to the brink.
“Ben is part of the solution there,” said ESPN NFL Insider Billy Devaney, the former St. Louis Rams’ general manager. “He is not the problem. They still have time to get things straightened out.”
Only one team since 1990 has made the playoff following an 0-4 start.
Devaney happened to be a part of it.
He was San Diego’s director of player personnel in 1992 when the Chargers won 11 of their final 12 games after an 0-4 start.
Devaney did not go as far to predict the Steelers will pull off a similar turnaround. But he thinks the offense will get better as the offensive line gets more experience and as Le'Veon Bell settles in at running back.