The Pittsburgh Steelers may be sitting pretty at 7-3-1 on the season, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been openly frustrated with some of his teammates for miscommunication over the last several weeks.
After Sunday's frustrating 24-17 loss to the Denver Broncos - which ended when Roethlisberger threw an interception at the goal line - the 36-year-old was highly critical of his teammates.
Even though most quarterbacks avoid criticism of their players and coaches, Roethlisberger believes what he said about his teammates and offensive coordinator was warranted.
"I think I have earned the right to be able to do that with as long as I have been here," Roethlisberger said, via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "And I’ll just be just as critical of myself (in the media), as well.
Roethlisberger said that wide receiver Antonio Brown should have run a flat route on the game-ending interception play, and said they should have used JuJu Smith-Schuster on "four straight plays" during their final drive - an apparent shot at offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner.
He also criticized wide receiver James Washington for dropping a crucial pass in the third quarter, simply saying the latter "didn't trust his hands...needs to run through that."
The loss hurt Pittsburgh's chances of locking up a first-round bye in the AFC. The Kansas City Chiefs sit at the top with a 9-2 record, followed by the 8-3 Houston Texans and New England Patriots. The Los Angeles Chargers - currently in a wild card spot - visit Pittsburgh this Sunday with an 8-3 record as well.
What This Means
The Steelers barely escaped with a road win against the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday. A game-ending interception for Jacksonville was wiped out by a penalty, giving Pittsburgh the chance to win the game - which they did on a Roethlisberger touchdown run.
Big Ben is rightfully frustrated with the offense, and they're picking a horrible time to fall off. With five games to go before the postseason, he better get on the same page with his wide receivers. Otherwise, it'll be another early playoff exit in the Steel City.