Steelers, Roethlisberger have some unpleasant memories of Oakland
September 20, 2012 12:00 PM
Paul Chinn/Associated Press
In his only previous start in Oakland, on Oct. 29, 2006, Ben Roethlisberger threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, including this one for 100 yards by Chris Carr.
By Ed Bouchette Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ben Roethlisberger does not remember much about the last time he played in Oakland, perhaps because he still felt the effects six years ago of a concussion from the previous game, perhaps because it's not worth remembering.
That Super Bowl hangover was a real one for him that day.
"I remember throwing like six or seven picks and it being a crazy, hostile place. That's about it. And losing the game."
Steelers Report: Next up, the Oakland Raiders
The PG's Ed Bouchette and Gerry Dulac preview the Steelers' next opponent, the Oakland Raiders. (Nate Guidry video; 9/20/2012)
He did not throw that many interceptions, but the four were as bad as they come. Two were returned for touchdowns by the Raiders, one for 100 yards. He was sacked five times. The Steelers lost, 20-13, even though Oakland quarterback Andrew Walter completed 4 of 15 for 51 yards, one interception, was sacked six times and had a passer rating of 17.3.
It was a bad day during a terrible stretch in 2006 for the reigning Super Bowl champions. It was their second of what would be three consecutive losses that would leave them 2-6 midway through what would be Bill Cowher's final season as coach.
If it were today, Roethlisberger would not play. He had a reported concussion in a 41-38 overtime loss at Atlanta seven days earlier, although whether it really was a concussion or not remains a mystery and also a fuzzy memory for Roethlisberger.
The quarterback acknowledged that in these times under similar circumstances he would "probably not" be permitted to play Sunday.
"It was so long ago, and I even forgot that I had a concussion the week before until you all just brought it up," Roethlisberger said. "Honestly, I think the interceptions kind of overshadowed everything."
The Steelers rallied to finish that season 8-8, but it remains the only nonwinning season in Roethlisberger's eight full ones and one of two that didn't end up in the playoffs. It was the only season he threw more interceptions than touchdowns, 23-18.
Through two games this season, he has thrown four touchdown passes and one interception, which was returned for a touchdown. He and his receivers have been about the only offense the Steelers have had. Despite a poor running game, they've possessed the ball nearly 12 minutes longer on average per game than their two opponents, and they've converted 19 of 34 first downs, the best percentage in the league.
"I just got done talking to [the media in Oakland], and they asked how we can possess the ball for so long without being able to run the ball," Roethlisberger said. "It seems like it's first and second down, and nothing's really happening, and, then, it's 'Hey, go make something happen on third down you guys.'
"We've been able to do that on third downs and make things happen, whether it's the tight ends, running backs, receivers, or the line giving me time. I don't know. I know we don't want to do it all year."
Roethlisberger has better memories from the last time he played Oakland because the Steelers beat the Raiders, 35-3, at Heinz Field two years ago.
The quarterback did not escape unscathed, however, because defensive tackle Richard Seymour punched him in the face after a play. Seymour was ejected and fined $25,000. He will line up at defensive tackle again Sunday, but there are no lingering hard feelings, Roethlisberger said.
"He's not a bad person. He and I know each other, and we've talked. It's more of a shocking thing. I've seen him since, and we've had laughs about it."
About those kneels ...
What does Roethlisberger think of defenses going all out on a quarterback kneel-down to kill the clock the way Tampa Bay's defense did Sunday against Eli Manning and the New York Giants?
"I've had that before where guys have jumped over and tried to hit us. It's not fun. You tell your guys to fight to the end, but I could see fighting to the end if it is a run play and not necessarily a kneel-down."
He has a suggestion if the NFL wants to somehow ban the kneel-down
"I'd do the same thing they do now except put the quarterback about 10 yards deep, put two protectors back there and just snap to him and let him take a knee back there. If you lose 10 yards who cares?"
Mendenhall takes some hits
Rashard Mendenhall began his third week of full practices taking purposeful hits from teammates for the first time.
"It felt natural. It was cool, all good," said Mendenhall, who explained the purpose of getting hit, if not tackled, for the first time. "Just kind of stabilization, simulating game situations."
Whenever he returns for a game, Mendenhall believes he can be as effective as he was before his ACL was torn Jan. 1.
"Just this whole process, rehabbing, going through it and taking it day by day. I'm preparing to get back to that level and nothing else."
Those who did not practice Wednesday: running back Jonathan Dwyer (toe), offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (groin), linebacker James Harrison (knee), tight end Heath Miller (ribs), safety Troy Polamalu (calf), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (knee) and wide receiver Mike Wallace (groin). Offensive tackle Mike Adams (back) and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (knee) were limited.