PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Wednesday he's going to do "everything he can" to be available to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals after suffering a left pectoral injury in a Week 2 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
"I don't know how it happened, I just know it happened early in the game," Roethlisberger said.
Roethlisberger took 10 quarterback hits in that game, including a hard one by defensive end Maxx Crosby on fourth-and-4 early in the second quarter. Crosby beat right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor with an inside move, and his helmet drilled Roethlisberger just below his left shoulder, near the Steelers' logo on his jersey.
Roethlisberger, 39, said the injury affected him during the game, but because he hasn't attempted a pass since, he's not sure how it will affect his throwing motion.
"Typically, when I reach for something outside the framework of my body or, you know, trying to push up off, get off the ground," Roethlisberger said, describing when he felt pain with the injury.
Roethlisberger had to push off the ground frequently Sunday, rising after being drilled by the Raiders' pass rush.
"We knew going in there, they had a good rush that was going to be high-motor guys, were going to get after it," Roethlisberger said. "And so, you know, you have to prepare for that. But we all need to be better to eliminate hits, to have a better run game, to have more big plays, to be more efficient. So it's on all of us to help those things."
Second-year guard Kevin Dotson acknowledged that not only was the protection a problem, but the line also didn't support its quarterback after he absorbed a bone-crushing hit, like the one from Crosby on fourth-and-4.
"It was definitely embarrassing," Dotson said. "We weren't noticing it during the game, but when you watch it and rewatch it, I really didn't go pick him up like I was supposed to and stuff like that.
"We know it's never going to happen ever again, so it's our mistake."
Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday the hits happened entirely too often.
"He took too many hits," Tomlin said. "We can run the ball better. We can get the ball out of his hand quicker. We can stay on schedule and not get behind the sticks and get in situations where the line of gain is so far that it enhances the rush."
Playing behind a young offensive line, Roethlisberger continued to acknowledge the growing pains his unit continues to go through more than two weeks into the season.
"I tell the guys a lot, no one has to be great," he said. "If we're all good and collectively we can be great. You know, offense is such a group effort. It takes literally all 11 guys on every play to make it work, and when one guy's a little off here or there, you can affect the whole thing. So we're just going to keep learning and growing and figuring out how we can try to get better."
Right now, Dotson said, the offense is one piece away from clicking into place, specifically when it comes to getting the run game going -- something that could help protect Roethlisberger.
"It's always one thing that's messing us up," Dotson said. "It could be the O-line miss a block, tight end miss a block, somebody miss a hole. It's always one thing. If we get that one thing figured out, we're definitely going to be great."
Tomlin first disclosed his quarterback's injury Tuesday and said it could affect his preparation for the week. Roethlisberger, who typically doesn't practice Wednesday, is no stranger to playing through injuries with limited on-field prep. A year ago, Roethlisberger suffered a knee injury against the Dallas Cowboys and missed all week of practice after being deemed a close contact to a COVID-19-positive teammate. He didn't miss a game and threw for 4 touchdowns and 333 yards against the Bengals -- also the Steelers' upcoming Week 3 opponent.
Asked what needed to happen for him to feel comfortable playing Sunday, Roethlisberger played it close to the vest. "Today is only Wednesday," he said, "so we have a lot of time to get ready to go."