This all comes down to one thing — rust.
When Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made the decision to rest plenty of his offensive starters in Week 17 vs. the Browns, many started to worry about the team losing their cohesiveness which has developed over the regular season. Them not playing in Week 17, having a week off during Wild Card weekend and then having to find that groove again can be worrisome for most.
However, fans should realize while this could be the best practice for the team, it wasn’t the wishes of all the players who were sat out. Cameron Heyward told media after the game he wished he would have played, but understood why he didn’t, and Ben Roethlisberger went on his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh and talked about how he told Mike Tomlin in Houston, when he was removed from a 34-6 game vs. the Texans, he wanted to get some repetitions vs. Cleveland.
“I had a discussion with coach in the 4th quarter of the Texans game, whenever I was out. I was standing on the sideline and was talking to him [Mike Tomlin] and I told him, “I don’t know what your thoughts are for next week, but I would love to get some reps, if you would be okay with that.” He kind of looked at me and said, “Let me think about it. I’ll let you know.” We talked later in the week, and he decided he wasn’t going to play me.”
“I kinda tried to argue and tried to get a little bit of reps, but he said no.”
Roethlisberger went on to talk about how the extra time off will help those bumps and bruises heal and help his teammates feel as fresh as possible when it’s their turn to play in the AFC Playoffs.
When asked about rust, and the potential of a slow start, Roethlisberger said it best, “This is the postseason, you’ve got to be ready to go and fired up.”
Unlike a usual bye week, the Steelers will be practicing normally this week, and will start their preparations for the Divisional Round as soon as their opponent becomes known this weekend. Roethlisberger and company should have plenty of time to get their timing right.