Despite the Steelers’ total domination of the Dolphins Sunday in their Wild Card round win in Pittsburgh, coach Mike Tomlin didn’t lift his starters from the contest.
Up 30-6 going into the fourth quarter, with Matt Moore leading the Dolphins’ offense, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and LeVeon Bell stayed in the contest.
The star running back would play two more series before being spelled, but Roethlisberger and Brown stayed in until the end.
And that decision to keep the Super Bowl-winning quarterback in a game that was 100 percent decided could well come back to haunt Tomlin and Pittsburgh this postseason.
Roethlisberger injured his ankle on an interception with 4:34 remaining in the fourth quarter, and he was wearing a walking boot to his postgame press conference.
The Steelers will play the Chiefs next week in Kansas City — a formidable test for any team, including the Steelers.
You want your quarterback to be 100 percent for that contest.
Roethlisberger said that he will be able to play in that game, and while no one doubts that — what’s he going to do, let Landry Jones start a playoff game because of a sprained ankle? — it has to be questioned how effective Big Ben will be with the ankle injury.
It’s easy to say in retrospect, but it was being said in the moment as well — what was Roethlisberger doing in that game?
If it was about building momentum, what more could the Steelers offense have done that would have been in the realm of good sportsmanship? Big Ben has been in the NFL for 13 years, he doesn’t need the reps.
But Tomlin kept his oft-injured quarterback in the game, and while a sprained ankle is hardly the end of the world, it’s certainly a lot closer to the worst-case scenario than a positive.