Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was highly critical of his wide receivers and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner following the team's sloppy 24-17 road loss to the Denver Broncos last Sunday.
The game ended when Roethlisberger threw an interception at the goal line, which snapped Pittsburgh's six-game winning streak. The 36-year-old quarterback said Antonio Brown needed to run "a flat," and said star wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster should have been used more on their final drive.
Though Roethlisberger was criticized for his words, Brown told reporters that he didn't take them personally and wasn't bothered by what his teammate had to say.
"I've got big shoulders. I can take it," Brown said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. "Constructive criticism is only for you to get better. It's not personal."
Roethlisberger also said he has "earned the right to be able to" openly criticize his teammates. Some fans and pundits ripped Roethlisberger for that statement, but Brown came to his quarterback's defense.
"Ben's my guy, man. I love him. Anything he says, there's a method to his madness," Brown said, per Fowler. "It's only to inspire the group, encourage the group to be better. That's the type of guy he is...He's the only one in this locker room that's probably got a championship under his belt."
Roethlisberger may have sounded harsh, but he does have a resume that speaks good volume about his leadership skills. This is a two-time Super Bowl champion, perennial Pro Bowler and the franchise's all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns.
What This Means
Pittsburgh is in the running for home field advantage in the AFC, and Roethlisberger was simply frustrated about the miscommunication at the end of a pivotal game. He expressed his frustration in a calm demeanor, and it doesn't sound like his words infuriated anybody in the Pittsburgh locker room.
The Steelers host the 8-3 Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football. It's up to Big Ben and the Steelers to get on the same page as they try to keep their hopes at a first-round bye alive.