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Big Ben: Critics 'don't know what' they're talking about

Remember when Ben Roethlisberger didn't care about football, or when he suggested that he was losing a step six weeks ago? Well, he doesn't.

The Steelers quarterback, in the midst of a five-game winning streak, shook off criticism that he was growing apathetic as he nears his 36th birthday.

"In a way it's like, 'Wait a second, you're going to take a shot at me and you don't know me?'" Roethlisberger said on his radio show Tuesday on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh. "I'm going to go out here and bust my butt every day and be limping with bruises and put my body and my family through this and not care? You're absolutely nuts."

The critic Big Ben had in mind when he made these comments was ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, who questioned back in October whether Roethlisberger's heart was still in the game.

"I laughed about it," Roethlisberger said of that suggestion. "[It's] why is Ben still playing if he doesn't care? If he's not playing well, he must not care about it. It couldn't be further from the truth. You don't know what you're talking about."

This is a far different tone than the one Roethlisberger set when he suggested to media members after a Week 5 home loss to Jacksonville, in which he threw five picks, "Maybe I don't have it anymore. I'm not playing well enough." Five consecutive victories later, all that sounds in retrospect like media bait and over-reactive hogwash. Since then, Roethlisberger has thrown just three interceptions to 10 touchdowns, including a season-best four in his most recent win over Tennessee, and has the Steelers in prime position to secure the top seed in the AFC.

Roethlisberger might not be the unrelenting deep and mobile threat he once was, but as he's proven since the turn of October, those who doubt his abilities or his will to lead this Steelers team toward another postseason run are sorely mistaken.

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