Why did Mike Tomlin hold Ben Roethlisberger out of game so long?
Why did Mike Tomlin hold Ben Roethlisberger out of Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders for so long after his rib injury? That is a big question the Pittsburgh Steelers should be answering all week.
Roethlisberger did not come out to play after halftime with his Steelers up 14-10 at Oakland on Sunday. The Steelers said Roethlisberger had a rib injury and was questionable to return. Backup quarterback Josh Dobbs took over and went punt, turnover on downs, interception, and punt on his first four possessions, which spilled into the fourth quarter.
Then the Raiders got the ball at the 27 following a punt early in the fourth. Oakland went on a 14-play, 73-yard touchdown drive that took up nearly 8 minutes and gave the Raiders a 17-14 lead.
Finally after his team was down, Roethlisberger returned to the game with just over five minutes to go in the fourth. He promptly led the Steelers on a touchdown drive to take a 21-17 lead with just under three minutes to go. Pittsburgh ended up allowing a Raiders touchdown, and then kicker Chris Boswell slipped and fell on what would have been a game-tying attempt. Pittsburgh lost 24-21 to fall to 7-5-1, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy.
After the game, Tomlin gave a head-scratching quote. He told the media that Roethlisberger “probably could have come in a series or so sooner” but did not because of the “rhythm and flow of the game.”
Ben Roethlisberger said he assumes he’ll be good to go for the Patriots game. He was ready to play as soon as Mike Tomlin gave him the go. Tomlin said Roethlisberger probably could have gone in a few series earlier but flow of the game prevented that.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 10, 2018
So this was #Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on QB Ben Roethlisberger missing the first 24:40 of the second half, then returning w/ 5:20 to go and his team down: “Probably could have come in a series or so sooner.” pic.twitter.com/5PrO0dwI9x
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) December 10, 2018
What the heck does that mean? Does that mean Tomlin was hoping Dobbs could lead the team to victory without having to push Roethlisberger back into action? Does that mean Roethlisberger did not feel ready to return earlier? Did Tomlin want to give Dobbs more chances to see what he could do?
The Steelers’ offense looked ineffective without Roethlisberger. He should have been put back in the game as soon as he was ready. This sounds somewhat like a baseball manager who leaves a reliever in longer than he should to try and steal outs rather than put their closer in for a long save.
The whole situation was badly mismanaged based on the information given to us by Tomlin. He and the team will have a lot of questions to answer, especially with their playoff looking shakier.