Ben Roethlisberger's play during the Pittsburgh Steelers three-game losing skid has left many outside the organization wondering whether the quarterback is on his last leg.
Big Ben understands the questions, even if he doesn't agree with the appraisals.
"I don't blame them," he said Wednesday, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. "When you play like poo, you deserve to be talked about like that. ... That's on me, I need to be better."
Roethlisberger responded in a feisty manner when asked how he'll know when it's time to hang up his spikes.
"I'll just let media people tell me, I guess," he said. "They seem to be coming up with all kinds of stories -- not from my people or my camp."
Roethlisberger's issues have mirrored the Steelers' struggles in the past handful of games.
Big Ben has generated a sub-90 passer rating in five straight games, tying the longest single-season streak of his career in Weeks 13-17, 2008. His fewer than 6.0 yards per attempt in five straight games is the longest such streak of his career and the longest active streak in NFL (min. 10 attempts each game). The three other QBs with such a streak in five or more games in the last five seasons (min. 10 att. each game): Sam Darnold, Nathan Peterman and DeShone Kizer.
Since Week 11, Roethlisberger has a 77.5 passer rating, ranking 29th out of 34 QBs with two or more stats starts, ahead of only Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Mike Glennon, and Colt McCoy.
Roethlisberger leads the NFL with 559 attempts this season, but his 3,462 pass yards are 15th-most (6.2 yards per attempt ranks 31st out of 36 qualified QBs). On his current pace, he'd have the second-lowest rank in pass yards by a player to lead the league in pass attempts in a season in NFL history (Jon Kitna, 2001).
The Steelers' struggles on the whole led to Roethlisberger calling a players' only meeting ahead of this Sunday's pivotal game against the Colts.
"It had nothing to do with the losses," he said. "It had everything to do with where we are, and where we're going. It wasn't a players' only panic meeting. It was necessary moving forward going into the postseason."
With the defense no longer bailing them out of every tight spot, the Steelers need improved play moving forward from their 38-year-old quarterback to have any prayer of beating playoff teams.