By Scott Brown
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The Steelers' offense never came together Monday night at Alltel Stadium.
One encouraging sign is it didn't come apart after a humbling, 9-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Steelers couldn't run -- or throw for that matter -- in becoming the first reigning Super Bowl champion to be shut out since 1981. But of the problems the Steelers have to address before Cincinnati pays a visit to Heinz Field for an AFC North game Sunday, bickering among its top offensive players is not among them.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made sure that wouldn't be an issue when he shouldered the blame for the loss that dropped his regular-season record to 22-4 as a starter.
Roethlisberger praised his wide receivers and his offensive line. The third-year pro wasn't nearly so generous when assessing his own play in the game that dropped the Steelers to 1-1.
"When you play as bad as I did, that's why you get shut out," said Roethlisberger, who completed 17 of 32 passes for 141 yards and was intercepted twice.
He did play the game with a fever, just two weeks after he had an emergency appendectomy.
Roethlisberger didn't reach for either of those crutches, as he dissected the loss that represented the first time the Steelers hadn't scored in a game since 2003.
Indeed, the only reference Roethlisberger made to what has been a nightmarish past couple of months for him came when he jokingly referred to the "black cloud that's over my head nowadays."
"A lot of mistakes were made on my part," Roethlisberger said. "I couldn't get the offense going."
Only once in 11 possessions did the Steelers' offense cross midfield. Their vertical passing game was virtually non-existent, as 10 of Roethlisberger's 17 completions went to running backs and tight ends.
"I didn't get on the same page with our receivers," Roethlisberger said, "and (I) made some plays that I probably shouldn't have done. It's something I think I'll be able to correct."