One of the favorite critiques that is always held in reserve for teams coming off of a game in which they struggle is that they weren’t prepared. It’s an easy criticism to make because it doesn’t actually require any analysis or evaluation, since you can simply point to the game and say, ‘look’.
That doesn’t mean that teams are never as prepared as they should be, or that individuals players might not feel as though they were prepared, but the truth is that it’s most often just a placeholder for saying ‘you suck’. You don’t snap a ball over your quarterback’s head because you’re not prepared.
And Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II doesn’t buy that critique when it comes to explaining why his team embarrassed themselves in a postseason loss to the Cleveland Browns, which featured their being down 28-0 by the end of the first quarter.
“Playoff game, again, it’s hard to analyze what we did there in terms of turning the ball over that way”, Rooney told reporters on Thursday, via Jim Wexell of 247Sports. “I don’t really see how you attribute that to coaching preparation. I think the team went into that game prepared. Felt like we were going to win. It wasn’t one of those things we came out flat, or anything like that. You just can’t turn the ball over”.
In addition to the game-opening botched snap from Maurkice Pouncey that led to a defensive touchdown, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would also throw four interceptions over the course of the game via a variety of methods, including a batted pass, which drove the Browns’ early scoring.
On the flip side, the defense failed to record a single takeaway after being among the league leaders in that category in the regular season for the second year in a row, having in particular had success intercepting passes. So when you lose the turnover battle by five, bad things happen, and simply throwing interceptions doesn’t mean you weren’t prepared.
“Looking at the playoff game, when you turn the ball over four times in the first half, you’re not going to beat many people”, Rooney said in his opening statement when addressing reporters. “Taking nothing away from the Cleveland Browns; they have a good team, but we just didn’t give ourselves a chance. No need to overanalyze that. We just didn’t give ourselves a chance”.
If there were any doubt as to where he stands with regards to head coach Mike Tomlin, he also said later on in the interview that his contract would be addressed later in the offseason and that he foresees him continuing to be their coach into the future.