Do the Big Ben jokes ever get old?
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who traveled to London on a promotional trip in July, said not yet, even though he spent part of one day posing in front of the famous English clock tower.
“It didn’t get as much run as I anticipated, so that was good,” he said. “There were a lot of pictures out there, and people didn’t make a big a deal out of it.”
Roethlisberger and the Steelers play the Vikings on Sunday, and he said he changed his attitude on the game after his tour.
“I took it as this is just a money-making thing for the NFL, but when I got over there, I got to see that there were a lot of football fans over there,” he said. “So once I got to see that, I got to see that it’s going to be neat for them and a neat experience for us, so I’ve embraced it a lot more than initially.
“There is a Steelers Nation UK, so there’s a lot of Steelers fans there, and they all told me they were going to be there.”
The Steelers, like the Vikings winless at 0-3, will fly to London after Thursday’s practice, arriving on Friday. They are the “road” team for the game.
Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin talked to the Twin Cities “left behind” media today in a conference call at Winter Park, and most of the talk centered on the Steelers’ woes. The six-time Super Bowl champions have not forced a turnover this year and are last in the NFL in rushing, making two trademarks of the team disappear in a hurry. Roethlisberger has four interceptions and the team has lost five fumbles.
“Turning the ball over -- that’s on me, and I can’t have it happen,” he said. “ If we don’t turn the ball over in critical situations, or as much as we have, then we are in most of the those games.”
Tomlin is hoping his team’s struggling offense, especially the running game, can right itself.
“We’ve turned the ball over, particularly in the red area, and obviously that takes points off the board,” he said. “People have scored directly off those turnovers, putting points directly on the board, you can’t do that in the NFL and expect to be better than 0-3. We understand that, but understanding that is only part of it, we got to rectify, we got to fix it.”
Roethlisberger has been sacked 10 times, and Tomlin said, “It’s been a multitude of things, game situations and circumstances have been a part of that -- when you’re in predictable situations because you’re behind, that’s going to dictate how certain people play football. The raw number is a product of that. But we have to do a better job of protecting him.”
The Steelers should have their rookie running back, Le’Veon Bell, a second round choice from Michigan State, back for the game. He has been injured since preseason. Opening day starter Isaac Redman has also been hurt, and Felix Jones is the team’s leading rusher – with only 71 yards.
Cornerback Cortez Allen (ankle) also will return.