It’s almost a comical happenstance that the Pittsburgh Steelers faced an Oakland Raiders team that had just 10 sacks coming into Sunday’s game, with seven of those sacks either on another team or injured and on the sideline, and to see that 11th sack result in an injury to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that had a huge impact on how the game unfolded.
The sack occurred late in the first half and resulted in a drive stalling at the end of field goal range, resulting in a Chris Boswell field goal attempt that was missed. He ended up coming back on the field to lead a touchdown drive to finish off the half. And then…
According to Ramon Foster, the rest of the team was as much in the dark about what followed as the viewers were. The 10th-year offensive lineman appeared on the radio yesterday and commented on the situation, which is kind of unavoidable considering how big of a moment it was in the wake of the loss.
“Nobody knew anything. We saw [Joshua Dobbs] warming up and were like ‘maybe something’s going on, maybe it’s just a series’”, he said. “That’s all we knew. Nobody communicated anything. We were looking through the tunnel also. There was no communication which is kind of proper anyway until after the fact”.
As we now know, Roethlisberger spent his time during the break between the first and second half first trying to find the x-ray room and then watching as doctors tried to figure out how to read the results of a test conducted on dated machinery.
Foster and his teammates evidently were not even aware of the fact that their quarterback would not be joining them coming out of the locker room for the second half, at the beginning of which the Steelers would receive the ball first.
It would only be in the middle of their second possession midway through the third quarter with Dobbs under center that Roethlisberger would emerge from the tunnel, but it would be more than a full quarter still after that before he actually checked back into the game. While he didn’t know what was going on himself, however, he still expressed understanding of the decision.
Given “the position of a quarterback and its relationship to the organization”, he said, “if a guy has an injury, you don’t want to just throw him back out there when he’s wounded. That’s between [Head Coach Mike Tomlin], the medical staff and the NFL doctors”.
No matter whether or not the decision made sense—and I’m not arguing that it did—the bottom line is that it will never be excused, given how directly it ended up contributing to a huge late-season loss that could be the catalyst to them missing the postseason for the first time since 2013.