Ward clarifies statements toward 'Big Ben'

November, 30, 2009
11/30/09
11:54
AM ET
Pittsburgh Steelers receiver and team captain Hines Ward went on ESPN's SportsCenter Monday morning to clarify statements he made about starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
[+] EnlargeRoethlisberger
AP Photo/Gail BurtonPittsburgh lost Sunday night without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the lineup.

Ward vented his frustrations in a pre-game interview with NBC and also after the game to the media about Roethlisberger (concussion) being pulled from Sunday's starting lineup. The Steelers (6-5) lost 20-17 in overtime to the Baltimore Ravens (6-5) with backup Dennis Dixon under center.

"I’m not going to question Ben’s toughness; the guy came back from a motorcycle incident [in 2006] and played that whole year," Ward said. "So me questioning his toughness, that was never the case. It wasn't me calling Ben out.

"It was just me frustrated, because I knew what type of game Baltimore was going to be not having No. 7 out there and having our backs against the wall."

The Steelers deemed Roethlisberger fit to return and he practiced all week with the first team. Roethlisberger suffered exercise-induced headaches late in the week and was pulled the day before Pittsburgh's biggest game of the season.

Ward told NBC over the weekend that the locker room was divided about the decision.

"During the week, there was no indication that he wasn’t going to play in this game," Ward said Monday. "I was just frustrated not having him in there. One thing about Ben, he’s a winner. And we like to surround ourselves with winners."

Ward says he will speak to Roethlisberger Monday to iron things out.

The Steelers need to get hot fast or will miss a chance to defend their title in the postseason. Pittsburgh has another big game against the Oakland Raiders (3-8).

"Right now we just got to worry about Oakland and try to get better," Ward said. "But the whole situation I think kind of got blown out of proportion. It was just all frustration."

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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