Kovacevic: Life without Ben? Cold reality
By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
A relentless rain whipped horizontally into the Heinz Field wind tunnel to greet the Steelers’ faithful head-on Monday night, making it so cold, so uncomfortable that the concourses often had more occupants than the seats, that mothers wrapped children in multiple parkas, that men … actually kept their beer bellies under wraps.
And yet, none of it approached the chill sent through the 57,644 on hand by the third play of the third quarter of this comparatively hollow 16-13 overtime win over the completely horrible Kansas City Chiefs.
That’s when Ben Roethlisberger went down.
The Steelers’ quarterback, their franchise, their most valuable player by such a wide margin that there isn’t a viable No. 2, was slammed into the grass by Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston — clean sack — then rose slowly and clutched his right shoulder, cringing with each step to the sideline.
First thought: No way. Not him. Not now, with things just getting good.
“When Ben first went down, I didn’t really think too much of it,” left tackle Max Starks recalled later in a mostly reserved locker room. “Usually, if he’s hurt bad, he’ll stay down. But he asked to be picked up right away.”
Second thought …
“The way he was moving when he went off, yeah, you could see something was wrong.”
Third thought: Uh-oh.
There was word early Tuesday morning that Roethlisberger’s shoulder was sprained rather than separated, which would be better, but nothing was firm. In the immediate aftermath, Mike Tomlin would say only that the shoulder was “being evaluated” and that Roethlisberger had been taken to a hospital for an MRI. No prognosis was given, nor a timetable.
But neither did it sound like anyone was solidly counting on having Roethlisberger for either of the two ridiculously essential games against the despised Ravens over the next three weeks.
As Mike Wallace put it, “When Ben doesn’t come back in the game, you know it’s pretty serious.”
If so, that means one of Byron Leftwich or Charlie Batch will have to take this team through its toughest stretch.
In this game, Leftwich looked every bit like a man who’d stepped on the field in anger exactly once since 2009, completing 7 of 14 passes for 73 yards and misfiring terribly on most of the half.
“I haven’t done it in a while,” he said, “but I’m sure if I have to do it, it’ll be like riding a bike.”
Batch, in turn, hasn’t even suited up for any games this season, and he functions in practice only as the opponents’ quarterback. But Tomlin declined to name a possible starter if Roethlisberger is out, and it can’t be ruled out that he’d go with the 37-year-old patriarch, if only because Batch started last Christmas Eve against the Rams and went 15 of 22 for 208 yards.
But let’s not kid anyone: There’s no QB controversy here. Only QB concerns.
And more than a few concerns beyond that, as well. The injury to Roethlisberger will overshadow all else Monday, but it probably shouldn’t.
Not when the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles bulldozed relentlessly through the right side of the Steelers’ line for most of his 100 yards, the same way the Bengals did a month ago before Dick LeBeau had to redraw schemes.
Not when the Steelers’ rushing game didn’t come close to matching that, Jonathan Dwyer struggling for 56 yards on 19 carries and Isaac Redman held to 21 after a brief benching for a careless fumble.
Not when the passing game — even with Roethlisberger — glaringly exposed how much Antonio Brown is missed. Mike Wallace used all his limbs for a circus catch on the lone touchdown, but he’d have only two other receptions. In general, the receivers put precious little daylight between themselves and a sticky Kansas City secondary.
Ben or no Ben, if the Steelers perform against Baltimore the way they did Monday, they’ll get bombed by 30 or 40.
As it is, they’re 6-3, the winning streak grew to a frail four, and the standings still look promising.
I asked James Harrison if this team, which has replaced so many parts effectively at so many times, thinks that way about the quarterback position.
“I tend to think so. I hope so,” he replied. “We’ll see if we have to go without Ben. If that’s the case, we’ll move ahead.”
By the time Lawrence Timmons’ elegant interception set up Shaun Suisham’s winning kick, less than half the crowd remained, either too soaked or too stunned to stick around.
A bit fittingly on this night, right as Timmons celebrated, the press box announcer informed us all that Ryan Clark, the Steelers’ best defensive player, was being checked for a possible second concussion in the past month. If that’s the case — and he insisted again that he’s “fine” — his chance of facing the Ravens should be about the same as Roethlisberger’s.
That’s some cold reality.
a W is a W
Originally Posted by Oviedo
Don't borrow trouble you
Never know what the fu-
ture will bring
That W was about as barely a W as it gets...
Originally Posted by tiproast
Thank goodness that doesn't matter...
Originally Posted by BradshawsHairdresser
Well, it seems that the rib injury is going to keep Ben out until it heals or he could die from having the rib puncture his aorta. My worst case scenario is probably reality. The Steelers need to find 4 wins with Lefty and/or Batch playing quarterback and hopefully, 6 weeks will heal the rib and Ben will be able to play in the playoffs, a most unfortunate turn of events.
The "Dark Ages" have officially descended upon the Steeler Nation:(
Originally Posted by papillon
Roethlisberger injury couldn't come at worse time
F. Dale Lolley
PITTSBURGH – The one thing that couldn’t happen to the Steelers happened Monday night.
Actually, the two things that couldn’t happen to Pittsburgh.
The first was getting caught flat-footed for a game against the lowly Kansas City Chiefs, showing again the maddening ability to play up or down to their opponent’s level.
The second was losing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to injury. Roethlisberger suffered an injury to his right shoulder in the third quarter, putting the Steelers’ enture season in jeopardy.
He was taken to a Pittsburgh hospital to evaluate what was called a “non-traditional” injury. To this point, Roethlisberger had received little mention nationally when talk turned to the league MVP.
But there is no doubt that he has been the Steelers’ MVP to this point.
Prior to Monday night, Roethlisberger wasn’t just a big part of the Steelers’ offense, he was practically their entire offense, particularly in the first four games when Pittsburgh’s running game was dormant.
That running game has improved in recent weeks, but Roethlisberger was still the player who made Pittsburgh’s offense go.
And without him, the Steelers are a decidedly average team at best.
That’s not a knock on backup quarterbacks Byron Leftwich or Charlie Batch, but Roethlisberger is playing for a $100-million contract for a reason.
There is no good time to lose your starting quarterback, but Roethlisberger’s injury couldn’t come at a worse time for the Steelers.
The result of what can only be considered one of the most questionable NFL schedules in recent memory, the Steelers and Ravens, the two heavyweights in the AFC North, play twice in the next three weeks.
If the Steelers don’t have Roethlisberger for one of those games, it’s a huge loss for Pittsburgh. If he is missing for both of those matchups, well, the Ravens can pretty much start printing their AFC North championship T-shirts right now.
Add to that the fact the Steelers played Monday night’s game without wide receiver Antonio Brown, their MVP last season, and you have a team with some major issues.
Against the Chiefs, we saw why the Steelers chose to sign Brown a new contract in training camp. Without him on the field, Roethlisberger, while good, had difficulties moving the football. The Chiefs played a lot of man-press coverage with help over the top from the safeties on Mike Wallace, Brown with his short-space speed, beats that man coverage.
His replacement, Emmanuel Sanders, struggled to get open.
The rainy, windy night didn’t help, but there was more than one time that Roethlisberger and Leftwich dropped back to pass, had plenty of time, and couldn’t find anyone open.
Against the lowly Chiefs, who fell to a well-deserved 1-8, the Steelers found a way to win despite those issues.
The Ravens are having injury issues of their own, having lost linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb. But the Ravens have also had time to deal with those injuries. The Steelers are going to be adjusting on the fly to the loss of two of their best offensive weapons.
And with one less day to prepare, that could be a deciding factor in which team wins the AFC North.
Originally Posted by papillon
The thing is I don't think the Steelers will win with a QB that does "just OK". At least not against B-more and the Chargers, and really the Browns defense is not all that bad (20th in scoring defense). The analysts talked about QBs that bring more to the game than Xs and Os and Ben was in the top 5 of that category. Leftwich will play the Xs and Os but to win consistently and win in the playoffs, a QB needs to bring that extra dimension, otherwise you would see a Cassell or Cam in the playoffs as much as a Brady, Rodgers or Roethlisberger.
i think Leftys stats were on par with Bens. He played reasonably well.
Originally Posted by Oviedo
yeah, I'm sure we'll win a lot of games if Lefty can lead us to a FG every half that he plays...
Originally Posted by Shawn