Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger is sore, but elbow is good after first game

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PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played his first NFL game in a year Monday night, and when he woke up Tuesday morning, he could tell.

"Today I feel like I was just in a car accident," he said in his weekly Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday. "[Tuesday], I felt like I was in a train wreck. Hopefully, [Thursday] it just feels like I fell off a bike or something. I'm definitely sore."

The good news is that while the 38-year-old is in pain after the 26-16 win over the New York Giants, the only thing that doesn't hurt is his surgically-repaired elbow.

"My arm is the only thing that doesn't hurt," he said. "That's good."

Roethlisberger, who had three touchdown passes and completed 21 of 32 attempts for 229 yards in his season debut, was honest evaluating his play.

"There was rust early," he said. "Even late, it's not like I played perfectly. I looked at sometimes that I maybe got up in the pocket a little too quick or didn't have the same feel in the pocket early on that I'm probably used to having."

Some of the timing issues stemmed from not having preseason games and not being hit in practice, he said. After the game he joked that he had outside linebacker T.J. Watt bump him a few times in practice to get him ready, but it still wasn't close to simulating real game contact.

"You have a pocket and you step up, but defenders aren't hitting you in practice," Roethlisberger said. "You kind of lose some of that feeling of where you can slide to, where you can step to. I think that will come back as the more reps and the more games you get into."

Even after the elbow surgery, Roethlisberger plans to continue his normal routine of taking Wednesdays off. The biggest thing that's changed after last year's surgery is the need to keep his elbow warm -- that's why he wore the modified arm sleeve, made from a puffy coat -- on the sideline Monday night and why he wore a sleeve in the game.

"That's going to be the biggest thing from what I have been told is making sure it stays warm, throw some passes on the sidelines if there is a long series or something," Roethlisberger said. "For the most part, we are just going to do everything we can to keep it healthy and warm."