The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for a pretty meaningless game this Sunday in Week 17 in Cleveland vs. the Browns. While the Browns are in a win-and-in scenario, Pittsburgh’s AFC North win in Week 16 essentially locked up their seed in the AFC Playoff Picture. With the Steelers not needing to win the regular season finale, Mike Tomlin has decided to rest some of his players, none larger than Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger was the only player Tomlin said will definitely sit in Week 17, but there will be others who get the week off as well. With that said, many are wondering if rust will be an issue with the Steelers as they prepare for the Wild Card round of the AFC Playoffs.
During Roethlisberger’s Wednesday media availability he was asked about rust, and if it is a concern. The franchise quarterback acknowledged wanting to keep momentum going from the second half which saw them erase a 17-point deficit vs. the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16 at Heinz Field.
“I think that you worry about how do you break that rhythm with what you had in the second half.” Roethlisberger said. “That’s why what I think is what we will have to do is trying to grab some guys here and there without disrupting the flow of what’s going on because what I don’t want to have happen is say, “Guys, let’s go over here and work on stuff for the playoffs”. We have a game. Guys have to focus. That would be unfair to Mason [Rudolph] and to guys that are playing this week.
“It’s a fine line to walk on doing that, but you still have to try and stay sharp. I’ll do my best to try and stay mentally sharp by watching some film, watching previous games of ours and things like that, talking with Coach Canada and things like that.”
This isn’t the first time in his lengthy career Roethlisberger has been given a week off prior to the playoffs. The most recent was in 2017 when Roethlisberger sat in Week 17, and the team’s 13-3 record granted them the No. 2 seed, and a bye week. To Roethlisberger, two weeks off is extremely different compared to just sitting for one game.
“The thing is I had two weeks off. Only having one week is a big difference. Having two weeks off is good. It makes your body feel good, but you can get a little bit rusty, if you will, or you need to get into the flow. Only having one week will be just fine. I don’t foresee that being an issue. I think if anything it will actually be good to physically get myself kind of recovered and back at it.”
Steelers fans are certainly anxious to see what the Steelers will look like when the playoffs do roll around. Will Roethlisberger and the offense look like the first half vs. the Colts, where he threw for just 90 yards and the only points scored were due to a T.J. Watt strip sack of Philip Rivers setting up the offense at the three yard line.
Roethlisberger was asked about the second half vs. the Colts, and what was different about the offense.
“I think in terms of kind of what went right in the second half, we just made plays. I know people were talking about going down the field and opening up the field a little bit, stretch and things. That helps for sure. I also think there’s something to when we are going no huddle and I’m telling a guy, “Hey, I want you to do this.” There’s just a little more engagement, maybe it’s more engagement from me too. Guys don’t want to let you down when you’re calling a play for them. They’re like, “OK I’m ready for it.”
“Something about it, I don’t know. Maybe there’s something to that that guys just when we know we are going no huddle, you kind of just see this energy comes into guys. It bled into the extra effort of making plays.”
Whatever the reason, the Steelers are hoping, even with a week off, the offense will be able to pick up where the left off when the postseason rolls around. Their Super Bowl aspirations will depend on it.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Browns in Week 17.