“This is a big one for us. As we know, and those of you know that have been around here, it’s all about when you get hot, when you start playing good football, and for us the time is now. We need to start playing our best and put together a little run here.” — Ben, on this weekend’s game against Dallas.

More from Ben this afternoon:

Was “readiness to play” or the lack of addressed this week in reference to the San Diego game?

I didn’t see that from the people I was around. I sensed maybe a little bit of trying to get it energized and get it going a little bit.

I think everyone is ready to play. I don’t think it has been addressed really this week.

I think you’ll see from guys who’ve been around here for awhile that it’s that time you’ll start seeing some leaders stepping up on the ways on how to practice. And hopefully young guys will take some cues from that.

Is there a “sense of desperation” now, especially with Cincinnati losing last week as well?

No. Every game for us right now is big. It doesn’t matter if it’s AFC or NFC, Cincinnati, whoever it is…We need to come out and play ball. I don’t want to use the word ‘desperation’ because I don’t feel desperate. I just feel we need to put it together and play the ball the way we know how to play ball.

Did he feel an inability to get into a rhythm on Sunday?

I don’t know if the rhythm, or lack thereof last week had anything to do with injury. I think I did come out a little anxious, a little rusty, but we just couldn’t put it together. From one phase of offense, one position, on any particular play, it wasn’t like we had any two positions doing the right thing. It was one of those funky things, and I think we’ve got it corrected.

Jokingly asked if Tony Romo is “on the list”: one of those quarterbacks he has a personal competition with?

(Laughs) He plays for “America’s Team” right? I think the Steelers are the “World’s Team” (smiles). But no, we just want to go beat them.”

On whether there was any talk of him leaving the game early last week because of the lopsided score?

Not that I know of…I would not want to come out, no matter what the score was. That’s just not me. I want to be out there. I never want to quit.

Was the protective vest helpful?

I didn’t even wear anything different, other than I had a little bit of padding on the outside of my shoulder pads and that was a little bulky, so I took it off.

On how he feels three days post-game?

Normal Wednesday. No major setbacks so I feel pretty good.

You can watch video of Ben’s full interview here.

Also Today:

Pro Bowl voting is winding down….

And Ben is trailing Peyton Manning (823,372 votes), Tom Brady (746,710 votes), and rookie Andrew Luck (318,128 votes) in AFC quarterback voting with 302,583 votes!

Steeler Nation, we can do better than that!!

Ben has 2,742 passing yards, 20 touchdowns with 5 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 98.6!

Vote for Ben and his teammates to play in the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl!!

The annual contest of the AFC and NFC’s best will take place Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 at Aloha Stadium. You can watch it on NBC at 7:00 PM.

Balloting ends Dec. 17 after the Jets play Tennessee on Monday night.

The teams will be announced at 7 p.m. on December 26th on NFL Network’s “Total Access”.

The teams come from consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining the 43-man rosters. Players and coaches will cast their votes between December 20th and 21st.

Offensive players on the ballot: Heath Miller, Antonio Brown (punt returner ballot as well), Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, Will Johnson, Marcus Gilbert, Max Starks, Willie Colon, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey and Rashard Mendenhall.

Defensive players on the ballot: Ryan Clark, Ziggy Hood, Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton, Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, Keenan Lewis, Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu.

Special Teams players on the ballot: Shaun Suisham, Drew Butler and Curtis Brown.

“We’re trying to get him to the Pro Bowl. He’s deserved it for a long time. Heath is a weapon and we have to continue to use him out in the field and in the red zone. Like I’ve always said, he blocks like a lineman and catches like a receiver. If we keep utilizing him it will be big.” — Ben on TE Heath Miller, from an interview on September 19, 2012.

So how did Ben do in the 2012 Pro Bowl?

For starters, he finished second in fan voting (935,535 votes) behind New England’s Tom Brady (1.45 mil votes). He remained at the #2 spot after voting was completed by NFL coaches and players.

He was also in the Top Ten in overall votes, finishing at No. 8.

And in the game…

Ben had 6 completions for 181 yards and 2 touchdowns before being replaced in the first half by the Chargers’ Philip Rivers.

He was honored to be voted in by the fans, and thanked them on January 15th, 2011 for doing so!

But if he is fortunate enough to be selected to go again, he doesn’t want to go alone – he’d like as many of his teammates to be on the field in Hawaii with him! So start that voting! Vote early, vote often!

“It’s fun. It’s neat to come out here, it’s an awesome honor and a privilege to be out here with some great players, and guys that you compete with, and to have fun with some of the defensive guys that you get into it with during the season.”– Ben, from his interview with NFL Network on his selection to represent the AFC in the 2012 Pro Bowl.

You can vote for the Black & Gold as many times as you like, and you can get started here!

You can watch video highlights from last year’s Pro Bowl here.

You can read more about the 2013 Pro Bowl here.

You can check out photos of Ben at the 2012 Pro Bowl here, photos from the 2008 Pro Bowl are here.