Nobody was happy about the fact that the NFL had to reschedule the Pittsburgh Steelers’ game against the Tennessee Titans last week after the latter organization experienced a Covid-19 outbreak that, more than a week later, is still generating unique positive tests. Perhaps quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was the least happy about it, at least with regard to the practical impact it had.
“It’s tough, especially for somebody like myself who was just kind of starting to get back into the flow of things”, he told reporters yesterday about being thrown into an impromptu bye week that they had no idea was coming. “It’s not easy, but you’ve got to adjust, you’ve got to adapt and do the best that you can”.
That was the most diplomatic of his answers to questions pertaining to the postponement of the game. He has talked a lot after each game about his struggles to get back to where he was and the efforts he has made each week to improve his footwork, to build a rapport with his targets.
One reporter asked Roethlisberger about that weekly progress that he was trying to make as a goal for himself and how the pause affected that. “The league already tried to slow it down, so I guess I’m gonna start back over from scratch and hope this week I didn’t take too many steps backwards”, he said in audible frustration. “Just try and see how it goes this week, I guess”.
The Steelers did not learn until Thursday that the game would actually be postponed, so they were going through their entire work week schedule up to that point, as they were directed to by a league that was still hoping to play the game on Monday or Tuesday.
In the end, they only got three days off, and minimal ‘bye’ week work in, which is often used as a time to pause and take a big-picture look at the team, to work on fundamental aspects of the game that get lost in the specificity of weekly planning for specific opponents.
With the Titans having found to have broken protocol, and with a new positive, there has been talk about their next game being in jeopardy as well, and even the possibility that the league will have them forfeit the game.
He was asked if he felt the NFL should forfeit the Titans’ game against the Steelers as well, should that happen, and whether or not the Steelers felt as though they’ve gotten the short end of the stick. “I don’t think they’ll consider forfeiting our game. And of course we got the short end of the stick”, he said.
The Steelers have, no doubt, gotten the short end of the stick so far. They have done nothing wrong, at least not that has been identified, and yet they have been inconvenienced in multiple ways. But short of the NFL making the Titans forfeit the Steelers game, there’s really nothing they can do but soldier on.