(Reuters) - Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, battered by the Baltimore Ravens pass rush in a 30-17 playoff defeat, put the blame for Saturday's loss on his own shoulders and issued an apology.
"Every time you turn the ball over it's frustrating," an emotional Roethlisberger told reporters after throwing a pair of interceptions in a wildcard loss at home that ended Pittsburgh's season.
"That's why I want to apologize to the fans, to my team mates, to the organization, the Rooneys (owners), the coaches. It's frustrating and I wish I could apologize individually to everybody."
Roethlisberger, winner of two Super Bowl titles with the Steelers, completed 31 of 45 passes for 334 yards but managed just one touchdown throw against a Ravens defense that grew stronger the closer the Steelers came to the end zone.
"I didn't play well enough, didn't play well enough to win," he said.
"Guys look at me as the leader and as the quarterback to make plays and to do what it takes to win the football game and I don't believe I did that today."
Roethlisberger posted career highs this season with 32 touchdown passes, a 67.1 completion percentage, and an average of 309.5 passing yards per game in leading the NFL's second-ranked offense to the AFC North title.
But with brilliant running back Le'Veon Bell out with a hyperextended knee, the Steelers had trouble moving the ball on the ground and became one dimensional.
The ferocious Ravens sacked Roethlisberger five times and sent the big quarterback to the sidelines late in the fourth quarter to be checked for a possible concussion after slamming his head on the turf after a hit.
Roethlisberger said the fill ins -- two rookies and an NFL veteran signed five days ago -- were not to blame.
"I tip my hat to those three guys that played. For guys that didn't really have any reps (repetitions) all year in live action other than practice, I thought they ran hard, that they protected when they had to.
"I take my hat off to the way those guys played. They played their butts off. That's not on them."
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Patrick Johnston)