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Tomlin, Big Ben: Steelers won’t hit ‘panic button’

PITTSBURGH — Despite a 1-2 start and a stagnant offense led by a 39-year-old quarterback playing behind a subpar offensive line, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is far from ripping up the team’s plans entering the fourth week of the season.

“We’re not going to push the panic button,” Tomlin said in his weekly news conference Tuesday. “What do I mean by the panic button? We’re not going to dramatically change who and what we are at this juncture.

“We’re not resistant to change for the purposes of getting better, but we’re not going to be so unsteady that we move away from our compass, our identity that we’ve worked hard to develop — and will continue to work hard to develop — and the emphasis on the style of play, whatever that may be in all three phases.”

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That identity, though, is still something of a mystery. The Steelers rank last in the NFL with just 159 rushing yards through three weeks. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a QBR of 35.5, which ranks 28th in the league.

After the Week 2 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, Roethlisberger pointed to himself as a key to finding the unit’s identity.

“The best way to figure out an identity is for the quarterback to play better,” he said. “So that’s what I need to do. I’ll work on me getting myself ready to go and making better reads, better throws and trying to put us in a situation to win a football game.”

Roethlisberger threw two interceptions in Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Bengals, was sacked four times and took eight total hits, as the offense averaged only 4.8 yards per pass attempt.

Tomlin was firm when asked if using another quarterback to find a spark was a consideration.

“No,” Tomlin said. “There was not.”

Fourth-year quarterback Mason Rudolph has been the only other signal-caller active for games, while Dwayne Haskins has been among the inactives each week. Tomlin also doesn’t have any plans to alter his veteran quarterback’s practice schedule. Roethlisberger hasn’t practiced Wednesdays for at least the past five years.

“This guy has a body of work over the course of not only what we’ve done in preparation this season, but over the course of 18 years that has us taking that approach,” Tomlin said. “That is a global approach. It rests him and rightfully so. He’s an older guy, and the wear and tear of plays affects him differently than younger guys. But also, he’s an older guy and he has a volume of plays that most guys can’t pull from that probably requires more physical work in an effort to be ready to play.

“Also, you’ve got to look at the totality of the journey. We’re going into Game 4. We’ve got many games that lie ahead, and I don’t want to be fielding questions late in the year about the quality of his throwing arm, for example.”

Tomlin’s assertion that they’re going to maintain the status quo and not hit the panic button echoes what Roethlisberger said immediately after the loss to the Bengals.

“We believe in what we’re doing,” Roethlisberger said. “And we’re not going to quit on it. We’re not going to quit on each other. We’ll see when we come in tomorrow. I’m going to look guys in the eye and make sure no one else is quitting. I don’t believe there will be any. Won’t get a quit from me or the coaching staff.”

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