It was reported last night that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List and would miss the team’s game against the Detroit Lions. Given that he was known to be vaccinated, his placement on the list could only mean that he had tested positive.
We don’t know the exact testing cadence, in terms of the day, for vaccinated players, but we know that vaccinated players aren’t tested every day, and I would imagine the testing day isn’t the Saturday before games. So the fact that he would test positive at such an odd time would suggest that he was experiencing symptoms, which head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed after the game.
“He was symptomatic on Saturday. We tested him, he was positive”, he said. “We’re thoughtful about distancing him from the group, anyway, in an effort to protect him. There wasn’t a lot of concern about contacts and things of that nature. We just simply elevated Dwayne Haskins and moved forward”.
That left Mason Rudolph in the position to start the game, which ended up in a 16-16 tie. He was asked after the game he if spoke to Roethlisberger, and seemed hesitant to answer at first, before acknowledging, “no, we did not communicate”.
I’m not sure that should be surprising, though, and not in a negative sense. If Roethlisberger was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 enough to test himself tested, then it’s possible he’s not feeling all that great. Of course you can argue that he can still pick up a phone. But I don’t think a chat with Roethlisberger would have had any effect on the game. Despite what many choose to believe, he’s not the offensive coordinator. It’s the rest of the team’s responsibility to get the backup up to speed.
“Coach Tomlin called me, and he’s always been great with communication, making sure guys are aware as soon as he knows”, Rudolph said about how he found out the news he would be starting. “He told me before we had meetings at the hotel. It was good to have a quarterback meeting and a walkthrough last night to get yourself mentally acclimated, ready to rock”.
He would go on to complete 30 of 50 pass attempts for 242 yards, throwing one touchdown and one interception, with a passer rating of 70.6 and an average yards per attempt figure of 4.8, which is…not great.
Despite being college teammates and setting school records, it was not a big day statistically for James Washington, who caught only two of six targets for 15 yards. One of them did happen to be in the end zone for his first touchdown of the season, however.
25 of his 50 passes went in the directions of Diontae Johnson and Ray-Ray McCloud, who caught seven and nine, respectively. Johnson had a game-high 83 receiving yards, though it came at a cost. At the end of a 36-yard catch-and-run in overtime, he fumbled, and the ensuing drive gave the Lions a shot at a game-winning field goal, which they missed.