Ben Roethlisberger didn’t hide his criticism following Sunday’s 36-17 loss in the AFC Championship Game.
Big Ben, who fell to 3-2 in AFC title games (with both losses coming against Tom Brady’s Patriots), called out some of his younger teammates that failed to step up in Sunday night’s 36-17 loss to New England.
“At times, it almost felt as if it was too big for the young guys,” Roethlisberger said, via Steelers.com.
Roethlisberger was right. Sammie Coates, who had just one reception since the fifth week of the season, had several drops. It’s also worth noting that Coates was taking selfies during Big Ben’s postgame locker room speech during Pittsburgh’s AFC divisional round playoff victory over the Chiefs, while Antonio Brown received the brunt of the negative headlines. While he did suffer broken fingers earlier in the year, it’s safe to say that Coates’ 2016 season was a disappointment.
As well as they played throughout the team’s nine game winning streak, Eli Rogers and Cobi Hamilton also dropped several passes on Sunday, with Rogers’ second half fumble serving as one of the final nails in Pittsburgh’s coffin.
While their stats are decent (Rogers caught 7 passes for 66 yards and Hamilton 2 passes for 37 yards and a score), they were too small in a game too big on too many occasions, as the Steelers’ offense could not overcome the loss of running back Le’Veon Bell, who suffered a groin injury during the first quarter of Sunday’s game.
Big Ben, who did say some encouraging words with regard to Rogers and Hamilton’s performances after the game, also took accountability for the Steelers falling two wins shy of their ultimate goal.
“We all just needed to make more plays,” Roethlisberger said. “We needed to play a near flawless game, and we didn’t. We need to make every single play in a game like this against an opponent like this. We all needed to be better.”