Ben Roethlisberger: 'Painful to lose'

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wore a sleeve on his right index finger Tuesday.

The partial dislocation he sustained in Sunday's 34-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in London isn't serious, and what pains Roethlisberger considerably more is the fact the Steelers are still winless.

Roethlisberger said after the Steelers' first 0-4 start since 1968 that they might be the worst team in the NFL.

He did not back away from that assessment two days later.

"I don't think that's a far stretch," Roethlisberger said of the Steelers being the league's worst team. "If you look at records, which I'm always a big believer of -- wins and losses, not numbers -- then record-wise we're one of the worst teams in the NFL."

Pittsburgh is one of four teams to enter October without a win, and Roethlisberger is foremost among those in the Steelers' locker room who is on unfamiliar ground.

The only quarterback in NFL history to win his first 13 starts, Roethlisberger was a two-time Super Bowl champion before the age of 28.

In his 10th year, Roethlisberger now finds himself facing the prospect of the first losing season of his career. And he takes that personally.

"I take pride in winning football games more than any numbers," Roethlisberger said. "That's what I've based my career on so far, wins and losses, so it definitely stings. It's painful to lose games because I'll put it on myself."

Teammate Ryan Clark said blame for the stumbling start has to be shared by everybody, though the veteran free safety wouldn't go as far as to agree with Roethlisberger that the Steelers might be the worst team in the league.

"I think that's being dramatic a little bit to say that, but when you lose a game the way we had just lost one, that's how you feel," Clark said. "Whether we're the worst team or not doesn't really matter. We haven't won a football game and that's what counts. We're not very good. I do know that."

The Steelers will practice Tuesday and Wednesday, then the players get four days off because of the bye before returning Monday to begin preparation for the Oct. 13 game against the New York Jets.

The break will give Roethlisberger extra time to heal, and he said his injury is minor enough that he planned to lobby coach Mike Tomlin to allow him to practice Tuesday.

Roethlisberger said he hasn't sensed that any of his teammates have lost belief that the Steelers still have time and the right personnel to turn around their season.

"Obviously we're down, we're disappointed," Roethlisberger said. "It hurts but I don't think our confidence is low."