Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers are on a bye this week there’s sure to be quite a bit of talk the next several days about who their first opponent in the playoffs will be and if players such as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be rusty in that first game due to him not playing a single offensive snap in a game in nearly three weeks. While the Steelers decided not to play Roethlisberger in their Sunday regular season home finale against the Cleveland Browns, the quarterback made it known during his weekly interview on 93.7 The Fan Tuesday morning that he asked head coach Mike Tomlin to play him some ahead of that contest happening.
“I know I had a discussion with Coach [Tomlin] in the fourth quarter of the Texans game, or whether I was out,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday morning about when the decision to rest him against the Browns was ultimately made. “I was standing on the sideline talking to him; I said, ‘Hey, not sure what your thinking is for next week but I would love to get some reps if you’re OK with that.’ He kind of looked at me and said, ‘Let me think about it, I’ll let you know.’ And so then he called me, we talked later in the week, and he just decided that he wasn’t going to play me.”
Roethlisberger was then asked what the advantage would have been for him to have had played a little against the Browns this past Sunday and he admitted it was essentially a “double-edged sword’ situation.
“Having two weeks off is different than just having a bye week,” Roethlisberger explained. “But, on the other hand, it is nice to get your body rested up. You know, just the little aches. Knock on wood, I’m relatively healthy as compared to most seasons, so really, it’s just the bumps and bruises. It’s the little bit of swelling in the knee, the elbow, the shoulder, just typical football-type things. So, the good part is being able to get that rest, but like I said, having two weeks off is just a little different obviously than just a normal bye week.”
Roughly 45 minutes later during his weekly Tuesday press conference, Tomlin was told what Roethlisberger had said during his morning interview and then asked if he’s concerned any about the potential of his quarterback, and any other players for that matter, being rusty in the team’s first playoff game as a result of having to go several weeks without playing in a game.
“You know, there’s always things that’s capable of concerning you,” Tomlin said. “This time of year you’re capable to be concerned about rust, you’re capable of being concerned about injury if we had to play a game this week. So, I prefer the rust equation. We get an automatic pass to the second-round and get to do so with all the people on our roster. So, we’ll deal with the rust element of it. We’ll work and prepare and hopefully get better in the process.”
Tomlin was then asked if he believes the rust element is a real thing.
“The question’s a real thing,” Tomlin said before laughing.” I’m used to the question and dont get me wrong, I enjoy the question because the scenario, or the variables surrounding the questions, are good for us. So, I’m not overly concerned about it, to be honest with you.”
Tomlin was then asked if there is a rust factor is it more likely to hit skill position players.
“I’m not acknowledging that it is, to be honest with you,” Tomlin said. “I don’t buy into it. We’ve been playing ball, man, since July, every day. We’ll be fine.”
Should the Steelers ultimately lose their Divisional Round playoff game a week from this coming Sunday and it’s ultimately a direct result of Roethlisberger playing poorly, you can bet several fingers will be pointed at Tomlin for not playing his quarterback some during the regular season finale against the Browns. Even if the Steelers win their first playoff game and Roethlisberger isn’t overly sharp in the process, you can bet we’ll be talking more about whether or not rust played a role in that.