After the New England Patriots scored their final touchdown to go up 55-31 with 2:49 left in the game, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned to the field for the final offensive series instead of backup Bruce Gradkowski. After the game, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about the decision to let his veteran quarterback, who had already been sacked five times, return to the game.
“Because we have to get better and those are snap opportunities to get better,” said Tomlin. “We aren’t turning it down. We aren’t running away from anything. We had the opportunity to work and get better so we did that. The guys that were healthy were going to stay on the grass and finish the game.”
Roethlisberger, who has now been sacked 31 times so far this season, was asked after the game if he was surprised to still be in the game that late down 24 points.
“No, not at all. I wouldn’t have [sat out],” said Roethlisberger. “They would have had to drag me off. I’m not going to quit; I’m going to stay out there and fight until the end.”
I admire Roethlisberger for not wanting to quit, but there comes a time when he needs to be saved from himself and this was definitely one of those times. There was no way the Steelers were going to win the game at that point and nothing good could come out of leaving him in.
I’m not buying Tomlin’s reason, either. If anybody needed work at that point it was Gradkowski, because at the current rate that Roethlisberger is getting sacked, he won’t last many more games.
I have a feeling that Roethlisberger told Tomlin he wasn’t coming out and that was that.