Ben Roethlisberger isn't afraid to call out his guys when their performance isn't up to par.
That's exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback did on Sunday after his offense's first two drives against the Bengals resulted in a punt and an interception. Big Ben then challenged wide receiver Sammie Coates to elevate his play or he would be replaced by Darrius Heyard-Bey.
Coates then caught a 44-yard bomb from Big Ben on the ensuing drive, setting up the Steelers' first touchdown.
“I told him at halftime, ‘Listen, you need to decide what you want to do,’ “Roethlisberger told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “ ‘Do you want to go sit on the bench and put [Darrius Heyward-Bey] in or are you going to step up and make a play? Because, right now, we’re pretty determined what we’re going to do.’ “
Coates then caught a 53-yard bomb in the second half that set up another touchdown to help the Steelers defeat the Bengals, 24-16.
Coates was serving as the team's No.2 wide receiver with Markus Wheaton sidelined, and was able to harness his intensity after being called out by his quarterback.
“You’ve got to run and be fast — all the time,” Coates said. “It’s about finishing. I have to finish when they call my number.”
Coates knows he will have to perform every time his number is called if he hopes to keep his spot on a team full of reliable wideouts.
“We’ve got a whole bunch of deep threats on this team," Coates said. "Everybody in our wide receiver room can run deep routes. We’re going to take advantage of it. We’ve got a great group of wide receivers, probably the best group in the country, I think.”
While Coates only has four receptions on the season, he has managed 153 yards receiving. Roethlisberger knows Coates has a long way to go, but is impressed by what he's seen from the young receiver thus far.
“He’s getting there,” Roethlisberger said. “We have to continue to do the little things. But I see progress. I see a guy who really has a chance to help this team a lot going forward.”
The former third round pick also heaped praise on his quarterback and offensive line, who he credits as the reason the Steelers have the most potent offense in the NFL.
“He’s the greatest quarterback in the league and we’ve got the greatest offensive line,” Coates said. “Our offensive line does a great job, giving Ben time. Ben always puts the ball where it needs to be. You put two and two together, you just can’t stop it.”
Images Courtesy of Keystone Press