Ben Roethlisberger knows the Pittsburgh Steelers need to play some of their best football of the season in the last few games of the regular season if they want to reach the playoffs - and he's making sure his teammates know, too.
Last week against the San Diego Chargers, the Steelers looked completely disjointed offensively in the first half, entering the locker room down 13-3. While in there, Roethlisberger called out his teammates for their poor performance, admitting he didn't play very well either:
"I laid into the whole offense, not just Mike," Roethlisberger said. "I think we all deserved to get booed, which I feel like we did."
To a certain extent, the talk worked: Pittsburgh scored 21 points in the second half, although the double-digit deficit they built in the first half would prove to be same as the final margin of victory. But Roethlisberger said the same urgency shown in that second half would be necessary for the team's final three games if they hope to play in the postseason:
"Every game right now for us is big. It doesn‘t matter if it‘s AFC, NFC, Cincinnati, whoever it is. This is a big one for us," Roethlisberger said. "We need to come out and play ball. I don‘t want to use the word desperation — I don‘t feel desperate — I just feel like we need to put it together and play ball the way we know how to play ball."
At 7-6, Pittsburgh would make the playoffs in a Wild Card spot if they started today. But they're only one game against the New York Jets, and two of their final three games are against teams also sitting at 7-6, the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Bengals.