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ZoneBlitzer 12-23-2012 10:02 PM

Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB
Thank God for this columnist. I don't agree entirely but this gets at the issue.

Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB | TribLIVE

By Dejan Kovacevic

Published: Sunday, December 23, 2012, 10:36 p.m.
Updated 15 minutes ago

Ben Roethlisberger looked about as down as I‘d seen him since that Super Bowl defeat in Dallas.

Remember that?

Yeah, less than two years ago.

Must have felt like forever ago to most everyone involved with the Steelers‘ sickening, season-snuffing 13-10 loss to the Bengals — the Bengals! — Sunday at Heinz Field.

And none more so than the $102 million franchise quarterback, who stood surrounded by media in an otherwise silent locker room, and absorbed the blame.

Not part of the blame. That was last week.

All of it.

Listen to Roethlisberger describe what he was feeling: “Disappointment. Pain. Letting a lot of people down.”

On throwing that killer late interception, his second in as many weeks: “Nothing to talk about. You saw it. I threw it to them.”

On how a team with this much talent won‘t be going to the playoffs: “We should be ... if it wasn‘t for me.”

Sounds dramatic and all, particularly that last line, but it‘s difficult to dispute.

You know, I was behind Roethlisberger last week when, after saying “this is on me,” he proceeded to clearly criticize Todd Haley‘s playcalling. It‘s rarely healthy to air such things in public, but the Steelers‘ offense had become so stagnant that speaking up seemed reasonable.

Besides, Haley‘s playcalling was terrible.

It was terrible again Sunday, for that matter. It was laughably predictable — run, run, pass, punt — and unimaginative in utilizing the most dynamic players.

One wonders what linebacker James Harrison might have meant after the game when he spoke of coaches needing to do a better job of “putting our players in position to make plays.”

Think he was talking about the defense after the game those players had?


On this day, though, not even playcalling loomed larger than the simple failure to execute, mostly by Roethlisberger. It‘s not just that he was 14 of 28 for 220 yards. It‘s that he took four sacks, failed to find open targets, misfired on two balls that could have brought six points each and, above all, threw those picks.

The first came when he eyeballed Heath Miller across the middle but “didn‘t see” Leon Hall poised to jump the route. Touchdown, Cincinnati.

That‘s on the QB.

On the other near the end, Roethlisberger rolled right, saw Mike Wallace 15 yards upfield and tried to drop a softy into a tight space. The ball badly overshot Wallace — never easy but achieved twice on this day — and landed into the eager arms of the Bengals‘ Reggie Nelson.

That‘s on the QB, too. And moreover, it‘s right out of the QB‘s treasured Ben-being-Ben portion of the playbook.

Game over, season over.

Here‘s a fair question: When was the last time Roethlisberger pulled off one of those NFL Films-type rallies, one of those that brought him — deservedly — his rep as a big-time player?

Finishing off the Jets to reach that Super Bowl?

It‘s enough to make you wonder not only where he‘s been but also where he‘s heading.

Remember, this season was supposed to mark the start of a second phase, one in which he would do less scrambling, get hurt less often, survey the scene from the pocket. That‘s why Art Rooney II chased off Bruce Arians, and it‘s why the noted take-no-guff-guy Haley was brought in. They‘d reinvent their star player to save him and the Steelers for years to come.

All of it failed.

Yes, one could point to Roethlisberger‘s major rib injury as a pivoting point for his performance. But the cold fact remains that this offense never looked fluid. So to that end, Roethlisberger failed, Haley failed and, ultimately, Mike Tomlin failed for being unable — or stubbornly unwilling — to find other ways to make it click.

Was Tomlin really OK with putting the Steelers‘ season in Jonathan Dwyer‘s hands?

Because that‘s basically what they did Sunday, with Dwyer needing 14 carries to muster a molar-extracting 39 yards.

This can‘t happen again.

Roethlisberger remains the franchise. That won‘t change in the foreseeable future, and it‘s something all concerned need to not just tolerate but to embrace. The Steelers will have other issues going into this offseason, but that‘s No. 1. Tomlin has to look hard at why this offense never found any semblance of rhythm over 15 weeks with top-tier players at QB, tight end and wide receiver.

And, I‘ll repeat here, he‘s got to be honest with himself as to whether Roethlisberger and Haley can coexist. Not just in niceties but meaningfully.

This was Wallace‘s pointed assessment of how they coexist now: “You don‘t have to like the people you work with. He doesn‘t have to like Ben; Ben doesn‘t have to like him. But we‘re all on the same team, so we have to work together.”

Until they do, get used to scenes like Sunday‘s ruining more Christmas Eves to come.

Dejan Kovacevic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

El-Gonzo Jackson 12-23-2012 10:42 PM

Re: Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB
Yeah, this one is on Ben. You could pin last week on Brown's fumble and Ben's INT. I think having plodders like Redman and Dwyer as your mainstays in the backfield makes the run game pretty one dimensional, so if Mendenhall could have stayed out of the dog house and healthy, it makes a difference.

We Steeler fans are spoiled a bit. High expectations and nothing wrong with that, but injuries and the team shooting themselves in the foot all season really cost the season. I am looking forward to a hopefully good draft and a promising 2013.

Hawaii 5-0 12-24-2012 03:50 PM

Re: Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB
Cook: Loss leaves Big Ben in agony

What's wrong with Big Ben?

December 24, 2012
By Ron Cook / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It's nice that Ben Roethlisberger stood up and took blame for the Steelers loss Sunday to the Cincinnati Bengals. It's nice that he went to many teammates in the locker room to say, "I'm sorry I let you down." It's nice that he told the media later, "They need more play and better play from the quarterback."

You expect nothing less from Roethlisberger.

"That's what captains and quarterbacks do," Steelers safety Ryan Clark said.

What you couldn't possibly have expected was that Roethlisberger would come up so small in such a big game. It wasn't just his interception in the final 24 seconds that led to the Bengals' 13-10 win or his interception in the first quarter that was returned for the Bengals' only touchdown. He was awful the whole game.

A few questions:

What has happened to Roethlisberger? He hasn't been the same since his shoulder/rib injury in the Kansas City game Nov. 12. The Steelers are 0-3 since he came back after missing 3 1/2 games. A week earlier in Dallas, he threw an interception that led to an overtime loss.

Where's the old Roethlisberger, the one I've written many times is on his way to the Hall of Fame and is better than Terry Bradshaw? The one who routinely wins games in the fourth quarter or overtime?

How do the Steelers get that Roethlisberger back?

Roethlisberger, coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley -- if he's here -- will have extra time to figure it out during the offseason. The Steelers will play the Cleveland Browns Sunday at Heinz Field, but there will be no playoffs for a team that's every bit below-mediocre as its 7-8 record indicates.

Who saw this coming?

Clark was one of the final players Roethlisberger found after the game. The Steelers defense had a terrific day, holding the Bengals to field-goal drives of 19 and 21 yards.

"I told Ben it wasn't all on him," Clark said. "It's never on one player because it's never all about one play ...

"We just never meshed everything together as a team. When the defense played well, we needed the special teams or the offense to make a play and it didn't happen.
There were other games when we as a defense didn't get it done. The Oakland game ... we couldn't stop them and they couldn't stop our offense. That's why we're in this position. We all contributed to this."

The Steelers offensive line had a rough day. Roethlisberger took a fierce pounding and was sacked four times. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins, with 2 1/2 sacks, had his way with rookie guard David DeCastro.

"Probably going to be tough to sleep tonight," DeCastro said.

Steelers long snapper Greg Warren also had a breakdown. His low snap led to a failed 24-yard field-goal attempt by Shaun Suisham in the second quarter. You think the Steelers could have used those 3 points?

"It's not just all on Ben," Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said. "It's not like he was out there by himself."

Roethlisberger appreciated the support, but he knew better.

"We did things to give us chance to win the game, but I blew it."

The man is right.

An interception by cornerback Cortez Allen on the first play of the third quarter gave the Steelers possession at the Bengals 32. The offense did nothing and punted. The Steelers got the ball back at their 46 with 3:18 left in the game after Bengals kicker Josh Brown was short on a 56-yard field-goal attempt. The offense again did little and Suisham was short on a 53-yard field-goal try with 1:47 left.

Roethlisberger's two interceptions were especially hurtful. He never saw cornerback Leon Hall, who jumped in front of tight end Heath Miller to intercept a first-quarter pass and return it 17 yards for a touchdown. Then, on a second-and-5 play from the Steelers 29 with 24 seconds left, his pass for wide receiver Mike Wallace sailed high and was intercepted by safety Reggie Nelson, who returned it to the Steelers 46. The next thing you knew, Brown made the winning 43-yard field goal and Roethlisberger was apologizing.

"I don't know what hurts more -- my body or my pride," Roethlisberger said.

Actually, he did know.

"It hurts the most right here," Roethlisberger said, tapping his chest over his heart.

With that Roethlisberger limped into the late-afternoon darkness. That his nearly 5-week-old son, Benjamin Jr., was waiting for him at home and the thought of his first Christmas as a father did little to ease his agony.

Roethlisberger came into the NFL in 2004 with the goal of leading the Steelers to five Super Bowl wins, one more than the legendary Bradshaw did in the 1970s. He has been stuck on two since Super Bowl XLIII after the 2008 season. This is just the third time in his career that the team won't be in the postseason.

Roethlisberger will be 31 next season, his 10th in the league. He knows his opportunities are dwindling. It hurts that the team wasted one this season..

"We should be [going to the playoffs] if it wasn't for me," Roethlisberger said.

This is just a guess:

DeCastro isn't the only Steeler who had a sleepless night.

sexyllama 12-24-2012 04:10 PM

Re: Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB

Not hijacking this thread but while Ben is part of the problem. I think the above describes the all around situation better. I don't like Madden but he's right. The Team Management of the Steelers this year was an complete trainwreck... Coaches to Talent evaluators.

I'll bet money that the Coaches will fail again by playing Ben, Troy, Harrison, etc. None of them should play this game. It is meaningless and there is no reason for more injuries but I bet Tomlin will fuck this up with a week to think about it.

PS Tomlin- The wife and I flew in to watch KC and Ravens. I want my money back.... thanks. I don't mind a hard fought game but the STEELERS LITERALLY LOOKED LIKE CLOWNS on the field. Could you please warn us if you are actually coaching that week? I thought I was watching Idaho, Auburn, Memphis, or Akron or any other BOTTOM 10 college team.

Edman 12-24-2012 04:29 PM

Re: Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB
Stop the bullshit, Ben. Alright, just stop it.

If he actually took his job seriously and stepped up to be a real leader, this season doesn't happen. He's as much a part of the problem as the OC.

nj1923steelgirl 12-24-2012 04:59 PM

Re: Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB
The team is the as a team lose as a team......we just were not good this year.... We have problems to fix.....

xbroughneck 12-24-2012 05:07 PM

Re: Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB
Santonio Holmes has been missed. BADLY.

Regardless of what anyone may think, without Hines and Santonio, the Steelers (and Ben) are missing something from the wide receiving corp.

I've finally figured out why the Steelers try to throw the ball so deep on so many 3rd and short situations. The receivers aren't getting separation on short routes.

That can be the only explanation.

Hawaii 5-0 12-24-2012 05:42 PM

Re: Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB

Originally Posted by xbroughneck (Post 1069850)
Santonio Holmes has been missed. BADLY.

yeah, the quality of the weed the Steelers have been smoking since just hasn't been the same :wink02:

OX1947 12-24-2012 05:48 PM

Re: Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB

Originally Posted by Hawaii 5-0 (Post 1069865)
yeah, the quality of the weed the Steelers have been smoking since just hasn't been the same :wink02:

Jokes aside, that may be it. Weed helps so many people just for normal things. Maybe for Holmes it allows more clarity.

Ricco Suavez 12-24-2012 06:16 PM

Re: Kovacevic: This one's on the franchise QB
Ben takes the blame, yea he did not play well down the stretch and threw nearly more ints in the last three games than he did the rest of the season. Yea Ben wanted to keep Arians, Ben was not the only one on the Steelers that wanted that. Yea Ben finally said something since preseason that indicated he did not like the offense. But to blame this season on one player is crazy. QB going to reap the lions share of praise for wins(except in Pittsburgh, where the defense always wins the games) and the gripes when they lose.

I thought that Haleys offense was doable mid season when the run game was at least somewhat good. But these last few games it looked a lot like Arians, Run on first no gain and then let Ben try his thing on the next two downs. Haleys version run first down 2 yds, run 2nd down for 2 more or pass short for 4 yds and then count on Ben to bail you out on an obvious passing down when the other team brings the house. We DO NOT have the people to run smash mouth football. If we are going to run then do not do it every first down. It is obvious to me at least that we cannot run the ball, tell me when was the last time we converted a 3rd or 4th and short with a run. Yea you run to keep defenses honest, but if you are ineffective on first down then you have tipped your hand the next two plays.

Our WR while talented get no separation in traffic, (other than Heath, and then he only needs a little cause his hands are the best on the team) they fumble after the catch as much as any tandems in the league, they drop balls, they do not have to be Calvin Johnson, but they could be more like Welker. I do not give a crap if Ben does not put it in the square everytime, I see other receivers bailing out their QB time after time, not to mention the times he hits them in stride and in the hands and they bobble it. Ben throws it they catch, simple, neither has to be perfect but each has his job to do. Hey if i was Captain and the QB and I had played less than sterling I would take the blame even if I knew that the play calling was not to my strengths or even my team mates. I would also take the blame even if I thought the Coach was making the same mistakes every game. I would take the blame even if at times the defender is in the backfield before I can get my feet set. Thats what you leader does, now if I was Peyton Manning and I just lost a playoff game to say the Steelers in 05 I would blame my offensive line post game and my idiot kicker.

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