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Mack: Steelers Blame Everyone -And Everything- But Themselves

Tomlin, Roethlisberger put late game shenanigans on Oakland x-ray machine

Chris Mack
December 11, 2018 - 2:05 pm

After a third consecutive loss this past Sunday, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin, despite continuing to mangle the clock and any challenge opportunities, continuing to watch his defense blow leads, as well as his kicker whiff, thought he'd save his most nonsensical move of the day for an explanation of his ridiculous quarterback management.

That's right, Tomlin's good with Chris Boswell's shortcomings, Keith Butler's faults, and even his own weaknesses, as long as you're willing to indulge him in his belief that the fans and the media are a bunch of witless dolts. 

The head coach was happy to let most of Steelers Nation labor under the perception that Ben Roethlisberger was medically cleared to play in the second half against the Raiders and that he neither was protecting himself from further injury, nor being held out by his head coach.

Much of that perception came due to the words of Tomlin, who in his postgame press conference, said Roethlisberger was ready to play before Oakland took a 4th quarter lead.

“He probably could’ve come in a series or so sooner, but we were in a rhythm and flow of the game,” said Tomlin.

"A rhythm and flow" constituted Josh Dobbs leading the offense to just one first down and only 26 yards on 11 plays as Roethlisberger stood and watched on the sideline once he had returned from the locker room.

For what it's worth, the stories of the head coach and the quarterback matched up somewhat, as Roethlisberger asserted his continued absence wasn't due to health, but simply a decision made by Tomlin.

“Coach was kind of saying, ‘Let’s wait,’” Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the game. “He didn’t want me to go back in. He wanted to see what was going to happen. Then, he kind of gave me a look like, ‘OK, let’s go.’”

On Tuesday morning though, after 24 hours of furor from fans over yet another mismanaged late game situation, our Steelers Insider Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette reported that Tomlin's story had changed.

"Mike Tomlin said Ben Roethlisberger received 'treatment' for his rib injury at halftime. It was a pain-killing shot," Bouchette tweeted. "The reason he did not enter game vs. Raiders after he came to the sideline? It takes pain-killers some time to kick in & Steelers had to make sure he was OK."

Minutes after Bouchette's tweet, The Ben Roethlisberger Show hit the airwaves, and the contradictions started to hit the fan - pun totally intended. 

An interesting timeline sought to take the blame Roethlisberger and Tomlin were sharing for the fiasco and place it on an inanimate object.

After taking a hit late in the first half, Roethlisberger said he was accompanied to the x-ray room at Oakland Alameda Coliseum by team physician Dr. James Bradley and General Manager Kevin Colbert. Apparently the equipment was so outdated, claimed both QB and head coach today, Dr. Bradley couldn't get an accurate assessment of what exactly was ailing Roethlisberger.

Tomlin repeated that claim during his weekly press conference, insisting that the x-ray images weren't readable, but that medical concerns and an unknown diagnosis are what kept Roethlisberger on the sideline.

Until the game was on the line, that is.

At that point, we're supposed to believe the "Old Cowboy" cast concerns about his well-being to the wind, and the player who once worried about a broken rib puncturing his aorta said, "Ahhh, screw it; put me in coach!"

Dear God. Get me my hip waders, because it can't get much deeper in here.

I'm not sure which of the two flimsy explanations is more negligent: Leaving a medically cleared, future Hall of Fame quarterback on the bench in a close, must-win game, or putting the guy back in the game despite claiming to have no knowledge of how hurt he actually could have been. 

One of two equally idiotic things took place: Colbert, Tomlin, & Roethlisberger either de-valued the Raiders to such an extent they looked past the second half of the game and ahead to the Patriots, thinking they could "get away" with Dobbs and a shaky defense, or the organization de-valued Roethlisberger's health to such an extent that they put him back into a game having no idea as to the extent of his injuries, or much more seriously he could be injured.

While Tomlin is willing to give Boswell, Butler, and his own replay judgment and time management abilities the benefit of the doubt, he'll only go so far when it comes time to give the fans and media credit, because ultimately he just doesn't think we're very smart.