The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen better days than they are currently experiencing. The black-and-gold have dropped three straight games, after losing to the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders in consecutive weeks. Now they turn their attention to another AFC opponent, the New England Patriots, in Week 15.
Today in the Black-and-gold links article, we take a look at how there is a good chance this might be Tom Brady’s last game in Pittsburgh as a professional. If that is the case, will this game be more of the same? Or will the script be re-written on Sunday?
Let’s get to the news:
Tom Brady’s final game in Pittsburgh? Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger reflects
By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
At age 41 and with next season’s Steelers - Patriots matchup predetermined to be in New England, it’s entirely possible that Sunday’s game will be the final appearance at Heinz Field for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Many Pittsburgh Steelers fans would celebrate this because Brady is 11-2 against the Steelers, including the playoffs. Ben Roethlisberger, though, prefers to embrace facing the five-time Super Bowl champion.
“Man, any time you can share the field with maybe the greatest of all time you should cherish it and value it,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday. “And try to out-play him, which is not an easy task. I don’t go against him (individually) – but it still is a neat thing to play against one of the best of all time.”
Brady, of course, at this point is approaching undisputed recognition as the NFL’s all-time quarterback. Base it on wins, championships, yardage, touchdown passes… Brady is either at the top or near the top of all the categories.
And he’s seemingly still going strong in his 19 th season, following up his third MVP award (at age 40) with a season in which he is tied for sixth in the NFL in passing yards and is leading the Patriots to what almost assuredly will be a 15 th consecutive AFC East title during a season Brady plays more than one game.
What does Roethlisberger believe is Brady’s secret?
Avocado ice cream . Isn’t that what it is or something?
“No, he works hard, he understands football; he understands offense, defense. He’s incredibly smart and I know people laugh at his running or his catching abilities but he’s an incredibly talented athlete when it comes to his arm and some of the things he can do as far as throwing when he’s falling or arm angles and things like that. Especially for an older guy, he does pretty good.”
‘Lack of information’ kept Roethlisberger on sidelines in Oakland
By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Mike Tomlin did not want to come across as a “comfort-seeker” immediately after Sunday’s disappointing loss, the Pittsburgh Steelers coach said Tuesday.
So at that point, he left vague the details that had Ben Roethlisberger’s ribs in discomfort and team physicians not entirely comfortable with putting Roethlisberger back into the game.
With regard to what was ailing Roethlisberger after a first-half injury, Tomlin said the images provided by the X-ray machine at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum lacked “clarity.”
The same could be said for explanations from Tomlin and Roethlisberger on Tuesday about why the franchise quarterback sat out four second-half series of the 24-21 defeat.
“When you have a lack of information,” Tomlin said, regarding a player injury, “you better move and move prudently. We did, but we are also committed to playing and playing to win. This is professional football.”
Though an MRI performed Monday showed Roethlisberger suffered “several rib contusions” — likely during a first-half sack by Clinton McDonald — the Steelers braintrust was left in the dark from just before halftime until deep into the third quarter.
As a result, Josh Dobbs played four mostly ineffective series until the Raiders took the lead and Roethlisberger entered the game with 5 minutes, 20 seconds left in regulation.
Roethlisberger returned to the sideline after two middling Dobbs-led possessions, but Tomlin said because the X-rays taken “weren’t readable,” the Steelers decided to take the same approach they took when a shoulder injury kept Roethlisberger out late in a January 2016 playoff game at Cincinnati until he memorably returned to lead the Steelers to a comeback victory.
“Because of the lack of information,” Tomlin said, “we thought that the best thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was to be only to make Ben available in emergency-like situations. And that’s exactly what we did in Cincinnati a couple years ago because of lack of information.”
Tomlin stressed he, general manager Kevin Colbert, team physician Dr. James Bradley and Roethlisberger remained in constant communication throughout the second half. But without a literal clearer picture of what was wrong with Roethlisberger, the decision was made to stick with Dobbs until a switch became necessary.
“If we felt like we needed Ben to win the game,” Tomlin said, “we were willing to do it.”
After saying his ribs felt “still pretty sore,” Roethlisberger on Tuesday explained his perspective on the events on his 93.7 FM radio segment. Roethlisberger said part of the delay was simply locating the X-ray machine in the 52-year-old stadium.
“By the time we got back to our locker room,” Roethlisberger said, “the team was already on the field.”
By the time the X-ray was interpreted and the pain-killing medication made Roethlisberger (physically) and Bradley, Colbert and Tomlin (mentally) comfortable enough to allow for Roethlisberger’s return, the Steelers had fallen behind.
“The team … was kind of like, ‘Let’s let this things play out’ because it was still the unknown of the injury,” Roethlisberger said on his radio show. “They were probably worried about making it worse because we didn’t know what the injury was.
“ ‘Let’s let our defense hold them, and let’s let Josh get this thing done,’ ” Roethlisberger added, quoting Colbert.
Steelers managing tailspin, and Patriots offer no easy escape
By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN
Mike Tomlin’s Tuesday news conference lasted more than 25 minutes yet included just a few questions on the matchup with the New England Patriots.
There was much fallout to discuss, after all. From inconclusive X-rays that kept Ben Roethlisberger on the bench in Oakland, to kicking tryouts, problems with the running game and former Steelers such as Rocky Bleier publicly ripping the team for its three-game losing streak.
The only way out is to stare down the dragon that the Steelers continually fail to slay. The presence of the Patriots -- marking a brutal, upcoming three-game stretch that could keep Pittsburgh out of the playoffs for the first time since 2013 -- will bring out the best or worst of the Steelers.
Tomlin promises they will embrace the high-stakes environment.
”One thing that we’re not going to do is hope and wish,” said Tomlin, whose Steelers head to New Orleans for Week 16 and finish the regular season with Cincinnati at home. “We’re not going to go through our processes in a manner in which we have and just hope the outcome changes.”
The Steelers need everything to go right during that preparation, which is why Tomlin said he’s “open to all possibilities” as far as changes, even if subtle.
The Steelers have tried just about everything to hide the absence of elite players Le’Veon Bell and Ryan Shazier, but the cracks are showing. They played five different defenders on Raiders tight end Jared Cook last week and still couldn’t stop him on the way to seven catches for 116 yards. The defense has hemorrhaged big fourth-quarter drives for weeks, and the running game has managed 51.5 rushing yards per game since Week 11. About the only sure thing right now is Roethlisberger, who’s second in the NFL with 4,227 passing yards, gives the Steelers a chance in every game.
But couple that slide with Tom Brady’s 7-1 record against Pittsburgh since 2006 and the Steelers will need their best game of the year to redirect their reeling season. Brady has 23 touchdowns and one interception against Pittsburgh during that span. Rob Gronkowski has been equally as good, prompting Tomlin to quip during his press conference that he’s seen other teams have success covering Gronk, but “we haven’t been a part of it.”
Perhaps New England’s modest 16th-ranked rushing offense gives Pittsburgh a chance to create third-and-longs, but the Patriots can counter that with a seventh-ranked third-down offense.
Tomlin knows the Steelers need improvement across the roster to achieve “Redemption Sunday,” which he referenced after the Raiders loss.