It was a bizarre situation. On back-to-back plays, TE Heath Miller and QB Ben Roethlisberger were knocked out of the Steelers Wildcard loss to the Ravens after taking vicious blows to their heads. With a league set on preventing concussions and protecting players, a new rule allows referees to act as de-facto boxing officials in the event of a nasty looking collision. If an official determines a play look particularly woozy or observes a stumble, then the player must leave the field to undergo the league-mandated concussion protocol.
So when Miller and Roethlisberger each only missed two plays before returning to the game, some reporters questioned whether or not the protocol was appropriately followed.
When confronted, Mike Tomlin said, "I assure you the proper protocol was followed." "That's how we do business. I have that level of trust in our medical staff and the understanding they have of how we do business. I take offense to the assumption that we would put those guys in harm's way,"(this quote courtesy of Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)
Now, it seems it's possible the reporters have a point, as it seemed like hardly any time passed between the hit to either player and their return to the field. But, in Roethlisberger's case, his star status meant a CBS camera was on his face nearly the entire time. The sideline concussion protocol isn't mean to be a full-on, comprehensive, neurological test. The Steelers employ a medical staff, one of the best in the league according to Tomlin, compromised of trainers, physicians and people who's entire paychecks are cashed because of their ability to administer health guidance. The sideline protocol is more or less a checklist to provide a baseline assessment of any potential injury a player may have endured. The exact check sheet used by team doctors can be found right here, and demonstrates it is indeed possible for a player to complete that entire list in only several minutes. In fact, part of the checklist involves correctly relaying a sequence of numbers, which you can see on the live feed of the game, as Ben could be seen mouthing numbers back to trainers.
Roethlisberger has publicly expressed he did not suffer a concussion, describing his symptoms as "whiplash". Given the offense Tomlin took to the questions, it seems clear the head coach is passionate about player safety.