Ben Roethlisberger and Bruce Arians have taken a lot of heat from fans for the Steelers' lack of scoring against the Bengals.
By Ed Bouchette Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It is bounce-back time for Big Ben, his coach says, and that often means trouble for an opposing defense.
"In the past, you didn't want to play him; he's been outstanding at bouncing back," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "He takes it personal, like all of us. He can't wait to come back and play the next one."
Ben Roethlisberger's chance at redemption comes Sunday in Kansas City, one of two venues in the AFC in which the Steelers quarterback has never played.
He reiterated again yesterday that he had a "bad day" Sunday in an 18-12 loss to Cincinnati at Heinz Field. Roethlisberger was 20 of 40 for 174 yards and one interception. His 51.5 passer rating was his lowest in a full game since a 38.5 rating Oct. 26, 2008, in a 21-14 loss to the New York Giants.
And while Arians might remember some great bounce-back efforts by Roethlisberger, others have not gone as well. That loss to the Giants was followed by a poor first half in Washington (15.1) before he left with an injury and backup Byron Leftwich helped win the game. And that was followed by a loss to Indianapolis and a 59.0 passer rating.
Roethlisberger, in those three consecutive games, produced eight interceptions, one touchdown pass and two losses.
"Flat out, I had a bad day, and it's going to happen sometimes," Roethlisberger said of his game against Cincinnati. "No excuse, but those days will happen some times. You have to learn to correct it, you know? I think we will."
Roethlisberger said he just did not feel right last Sunday, including his right arm, although he denied it was sore or stiff. Arians said he tried to use a no-huddle to shake his quarterback out of it, to no avail.
"We got manageable third downs but couldn't hit them," Arians said. "In the past, we've been able to jump into the no-huddle, get a little rhythm going and get out of it, but we weren't able to get out of it."
Arians also said the lack of pass protection did not help the quarterback, either.
NFL fines Harrison
Steelers linebacker James Harrison said the NFL fined him $5,000 for punching Cincinnati offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth Sunday.
Harrison responded to a push from Whitworth by punching him on the helmet. He was penalized on the first-down play -- a 2-yard run by Brian Leonard -- 15 yards, which gave Cincinnati a first down at the Bengals' 49.
They completed that series with a 43-yard field goal for an 18-12 lead that stood up as the final score.
Polamalu defers to Tomlin
It was shown again that when Troy Polamalu talks, people will listen, even when he does not say anything. Polamalu spoke publicly for the first time since his latest knee injury Sunday against Cincinnati.
He deferred all questions about his knee or injury -- "Who says there's even a real knee injury, first of all?" -- to coach Mike Tomlin, even when it might have occurred. As he did during his four-game absence to his first knee injury, Polamalu said there are things Tyrone Carter does better than him, such as tackling.
"There are a lot of strengths that Tyrone has that I lack and vice versa," Polamalu said. "That's why every time I'm in the game, I come to the sidelines, he's in my ear about the previous drive and each play, and where I can improve and what to look out for."
He acknowledged a level of frustration over his absence because "I want to play football."
Polamalu also warned that it would be wrong for anyone to take the 2-7 Chiefs lightly.
"You can't take for granted the NFL and the challenge each team brings. I know there's been times, even my rookie year when we weren't very good, a couple years here, we felt we could still challenge anybody, and I'm sure they feel the same way."
Polamalu did not practice again yesterday and will not play Sunday in Kansas City. Defensive end Travis Kirschke also is not likely to play for the third consecutive game because of a torn calf muscle. Kirschke practiced a little Wednesday and not at all yesterday. Fullback Carey Davis, however, returned to practice full time for the first time since his hamstring was injured in Denver.
Sweed makes progress
Wide receiver Limas Sweed, who has dressed for the past two games, has climbed back into favor of sorts with the coaching staff after three good weeks of practice.
"He's done it in practice. He's earned the right to get back out on the field," Arians said. "I have confidence in him, but we're not going to take Heath [Miller] out to put a fourth wideout in right now, especially with the zone blitz packages we're seeing. He just has to bide his time.
"He's got a bright future. He's had three great weeks of practice. I would have no qualms putting him in the ballgame."
Sweed has been inactive in four of the Steelers' nine games.