When Ben Roethlisberger did not emerge from the locker room at the start of the second half, there was a sense of foreboding for a Pittsburgh Steelers team that had not won in Oakland since 1995. While Big Ben was inside receiving attention from the medical staff for a rib injury, Josh Dobbs would lead the team on two five play drives that covered 19 yards and 21 yards respectively, the second ending in a turnover on downs at the Raiders 42-yard line.
Seen walking back towards the sidelines carrying his helmet with 8.45 on the clock in the third quarter, just as Dobbs had completed the first play of his second drive of the game, Roethlisberger had the look of a man who could be coming back into the game any moment.
Except he didn’t, not until Dobbs had played in two more series, the first of which ended with an interception after another five plays. When Big Ben eventually did re-enter the game with 5.20 left in the fourth quarter, he would show no signs of injury as he took the Steelers on a six play, 70-yard, touchdown drive.
However, with an admission that makes you question the sanity of the decision, Mike Tomlin revealed to reporters after the game that his future Hall of Fame quarterback could actually have come back into the game much sooner. Acknowledging that he had been medically cleared to play when he had first returned to the sidelines earlier in the third quarter, the explanation for still opting to hold him out was strange to say the least.
“He got looked at at halftime, he got treatment, he came back out. We were waiting to see if he was going to able to come back in, he was. Probably could have come in a series or so sooner, but we were in the rhythm and flow of the game. He was ready to go when he got back out there.
He was medically cleared when he got back out there. Obviously, he wasn’t back out there at the start of the third quarter.”
Given the fact that Dobbs was clearly struggling, it makes little sense to know that Big Ben could have back in to the game sooner, but was instead left standing on the sidelines watching his back up throw a pick. Pittsburgh had no rhythm from the second Dobbs entered the contest, not that they had much in the first half either.
It is difficult to understand how reinserting your starting quarterback at the start of a new drive can disrupt the flow of an offense, but apparently this is something that concerned the Steelers’ coaching staff more than seeing the back up throw an interception.
OK, @Jacob_Klinger_ reports Ben Roethlisberger was asked “What did you have to do to get yourself back in the game?”— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) December 10, 2018
His response: “I was just waiting for coach to tell me when to go.”
So 1) Tomlin didn’t tell him to 2) Tomlin’s call 3) We don’t know 4) I guess not?