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Ben Roethlisberger opting for less turnovers over pleasing playmakers

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Steelers handle a tough Vikings defense (1:37)

Jeff Saturday explains how the Steelers' 26-9 win on Sunday was an impressive performance considering their physical approach and the defense they faced. (1:37)

PITTSBURGH -- Heading into the 2017 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense emphasized the need for fewer turnovers. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is protecting that plan.

"I don't know that he threw an interception in Latrobe," said coach Mike Tomlin, referring to Latrobe, Pa., the location of the Steelers' training camp.

Through two games, Roethlisberger's yardage totals -- 506 yards plus four touchdowns -- haven't matched his 2016 or 2015 form (272.7 and 328.2 yards per game, respectively). But he has completed 66.2 percent of his passes (47-of-71) and minimized mistakes on the way to a 2-0 start.

Roethlisberger averaged one interception every 37.1 passing attempts from 2004-16, and he has one pick in 71 attempts this season. A small sample size, to be sure, but it's worth noting that his only interception was on target to receiver Martavis Bryant before Browns safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun made an athletic play to deflect the ball.

The Steelers have many playmakers to keep happy and a goal of 30 points per game, but Roethlisberger -- known for his improv style and big-play ability -- says he's willing to follow the safer, less flashy route if it means more wins.

Even if Steelers receiver Antonio Brown finishes with a quiet 62 yards on five catches, as he did in the Steeler's 26-9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

"In the past I've done that, where I've tried to keep guys happy, and it creates a bad issue, whether it's a turnover or a bad play because someone else is open and I'm trying to force it," Roethlisberger said during his weekly appearance with 93.7 The Fan Pittsburgh. "At the end of the day, if it's going to hurt the team, I just kind of say, 'Well, you're going to have to just deal with it. Winning's more important. [Receivers] can be mad at me all they want. But they better realize if we won the game, that's all that matters."

If the Steelers are moving the ball well with the no-huddle and have a lead, Roethlisberger might look for a way to isolate an individual playmaker. But the open man usually wins. Brown happens to get open a lot, or Roethlisberger will throw him open toward the sideline.

The Steelers' offense won't shy away from the deep shot. Roethlisberger typically ranks among the league leaders in passing yards traveled through the air. On Sunday, Big Ben took at least four deep shots. But they were safe plays because the safeties were creeping up.

The Steelers have two of the NFL's biggest fantasy weapons: Brown and RB Le'Veon Bell. Plus, Bryant is in a prove-it year, slot receiver Eli Rogers is eyeing big numbers, and rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is trying to show he belongs. Tight end Jesse James is eager to fill, once and for all, the void left by the retired Heath Miller.

That group has combined for four touchdowns. Bell and Brown have yet to reach the end zone, with Bell's yards-per-catch average dropping from 8.2 last season to 2.7 so far this year. The next five defenses on the schedule -- Chicago, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Kansas City and Cincinnati -- have the athleticism to create matchup issues.

But Tomlin points to Roethlisberger's efficiency as a catalyst for the team's plus-one turnover margin.

"He's just done a great job of taking care of the ball," Tomlin said. "Oftentimes, particularly in the early stages of the season, that's just enough to get you out of the stadium."

Roethlisberger led the league in yards per game in 2015, but 328.2 is an enormous number that's hard to duplicate every year. He also threw 16 interceptions in his 12 games that year.

Roethlisberger admits everyone on the offense wants the big numbers, but he most wants the numbers that signify winning.

"We're not BCS-pointing it," Roethlisberger said.