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Tomlin defends Big Ben amid downtrodden comments

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger questioned himself and his abilities after a horrid, five-interception performance against the Jaguars on Sunday.

Specifically, that meant saying "maybe I don't have it anymore," in a terse post-game session with reporters.

On Tuesday, the Steelers wanted the world to know that all of those doubts were in the past. On Roethlisberger's weekly radio show and during head coach Mike Tomlin's address to the local media, both made it clear that this was merely a snapshot of a disappointed athlete and not a window into Roethlisberger's soul.

Here's Tomlin:

"Let me say this about Ben. Ben is a big-time competitor, an emotional guy who's seen a lot in the business. He's not afraid to tell you guys the truth in terms of how he feeling at a particular moment. Sometimes it might be things that might be somewhat alarming to you guys. There's a lot of emotions at play when these guys pour themselves into competition. So he might say something after the game that might allow you to overreact to it. The bottom line is that I've known Ben 11 years. I know the competitor he is. I know his level of confidence. What he says after a five-interception performance -- moments after a five-interception performance -- probably is not reflective of who he is and how he feels. It wasn't reflective of who he is and how he felt when he walked in here yesterday. He looked like a guy who was ready to gun-sling and get back at it. That's more in line with the guy that I know and what I anticipate from him. And that's why I take some of those comments with a grain of salt and I don't overreact the way that some of who you guys react when you hear comments. Last year after a very disappointing playoff exit he talked about retirement. Two guys ran to the moon and back with that. Here we sit today and he's our quarterback. So write what you will."

For his part, Roethlisberger said "It was a bad day at the office. You get frustrated." He also called himself both a "gunfighter" and a "cowboy."

Speaking to athletes immediately following a game is a wonderful way to capture the spirit of one particular moment in time. Collective sadness after a loss can be personified by an angry player, a weeping player or a player hurling the post-game buffet all over the locker room. The problem is that it's after that particular moment in time that they actually have a chance to collect themselves, digest what is really right or wrong and gather what they probably would have wished was said to the collected cameras and reporters.

Tomlin goes to bat for Roethlisberger here, pointing out that it's the way any person of his stature might have acted after performing so significantly. Unfortunately he also accused the media of making too much out of Roethlisberger repeatedly talking about retirement. Those statements were made, over and over, with time and a clear head.

Roethlisberger has 11 more games and hundreds of media opportunities remaining to show how he really feels and what he really has left in the tank. Like Antonio Brown got a pass for toppling a Gatorade jug, so will Roethlisberger. Will it simply be part of their past?

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