Ben Roethlisberger and several of the Steelers’ top starters will see no action in the final week of the regular season, the team announced Tuesday. With a 38-year-old quarterback, the title of the North Division of the American Conference in the pocket And without much else to dispute, the move makes sense for Pittsburgh.
And with Mike Tomlin’s decision it is uncovered a Pandora’s Box in the dispute over tickets remaining to postseason in the AFC.
Roethlisberger’s absence in Week 17 against the Browns paves the way for Cleveland to make their first playoff berth since 2002, it only takes one more victory to end the longest active drought in the NFL. With four tickets available and five teams in contention, the most affected by the decision of Pittsburgh would be the Colts, the only one of those five teams that does not control their own destiny.
Coach Tomlin was prudent in giving Roethlisberger rest in the lead up to the postseason, but assured that the only changes are in personnel matters, not in the team’s mentality.
“It doesn’t change our intentions, in terms of going to Cleveland this weekend.”the coach noted Tuesday. “Football is our game. Our job is to win. We intend to do our job. We intend to prepare with that mentality ”.
The decision to rest a quarterback who is coming off a 14-game absence the previous season and who began to show his age late in the season, too paves the way for Mason Rudolph to exact revenge.
The last time Rudolph started against Cleveland he found himself on the wrong side of an infamous brawl in which Browns defensive end Myles Garrett ripped off his helmet and used it to hit him on the head. The episode earned Garrett an indefinite suspension.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him (Rudolph) about it, but I’m sure he’s excited for the opportunity to start, ”said Tomliin.
The Browns will surely be excited to see Rudolph too. on the other side of the ball instead of a Roethlisberger who is 24-2 as a starter against Cleveland and the last time they crossed paths headed the Steelers to a 38-7 win.
Coach Tomlin pointed out, without being specific, that other starters won’t see action against the Browns either, substantially increasing Cleveland’s chances and causing a ripple effect in the postseason landscape for the AFC.
Knowing that Pittsburgh won’t go to full capacity, the Bills ─ currently seconds into sowing─ they could make a similar decision in the game in which Miami also seeks its playoff spot. With that, the five teams in the dispute for four places in the postseason – Titans, Ravens, Dolphins, Browns and Colts – would come out on Sunday as favorites and, if the forecasts are met, Indianapolis would be left out.