Opinion: 4-0 Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has no purpose to whine about COVID-19 disruptions

Opinion: 4-0 Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has no reason to whine about COVID-19 disruptions

Jarrett Bell


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PITTSBURGH – No, Ben Roethlisberger, grumbling final week in regards to the inconvenience of the COVID-19 schedule disruption the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to navigate was not an excellent look.

Not when the pandemic — which has value the lives of greater than 213,000 and financial hardship for therefore many extra — has thrown this nation for such a loop.

Not after they lastly hosted followers at Heinz Discipline on Sunday, fewer than 5,000 in all, as one other signal that the shutdown will likely be peeled away one layer at a time.

 Not when you may’t get an even-money guess {that a} second wave gained’t be worse.

And simply assume: It may have been worse for the Steelers, who’ve finished a stellar job in managing the COVID-19 predicament but needed to take an unscheduled bye final week due to the outbreak that has stymied the Tennessee Titans.

Poor Pittsburgh. Not.

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Have a look at the Denver Broncos. They’ve acquired a 17-day break on faucet. The Titans are conserving their fingers crossed they’ll play Tuesday night time. The Patriots flew on recreation day final week earlier than falling at Kansas Metropolis, and now there’s no recreation this week, with their headquarters closed and Cam Newton’s standing on the COVID-19 scale nonetheless tenuous.

As this COVID-19 scenario seeps into the NFL’s season, Pittsburgh’s schedule blip is on the delicate aspect.

Certainly, Roethlisberger needed to be talking off the cuff, or simply with some type of tunnel imaginative and prescient, in casting the Steelers as some sort of sufferer for having a recreation pushed again. From a purely private vantage level, it’s comprehensible. The Steelers quarterback, attempting to rebound after the majority of his 2019 season was worn out by an elbow damage, is regaining his rhythm in the course of the marketing campaign that didn’t afford a preseason. He’s knocking off some rust and as any good quarterback (and a few dangerous ones, too) will attest, timing with receivers is a part of the equation.

 However I’m guessing Roethlisberger has totally grasped the fact examine by now, a couple of days since his misfortunate whine. Once I requested him for his big-picture view of the COVID-19 cloud, following a 38-29 victory in opposition to the Eagles, he had all of it in perspective.

“Nicely, knock on wooden, we’ll simply do our half to maintain attempting to be secure,” Roethlisberger stated throughout his postgame Zoom convention. “I believe that firstly, you’ve acquired to try this. I do know my spouse is locking the home down and stuff like that. So, I believe all of us take it fairly severe round right here.

“Hopefully, we will proceed to try this. I do know this week will likely be a problem as a result of we’re allowed to have followers. Individuals coming to video games and household flying in and pals and issues like that. So, the problem will proceed to come up, and we’ll have to only maintain attempting to reply the bell and do what we will to be sensible. I don’t even know what issues have advanced as we speak (throughout the NFL), however I’m positive the schedule goes to maintain altering. So, we simply must be ready to play a recreation every time they inform us to and provides it the whole lot we have now.”

It wasn’t straightforward for Pittsburgh to complete off the Eagles (1-3-1) and safe their first 4-0 begin since 1979. But Roethlisberger had a particular reference to rookie receiver Chase Claypool, who caught seven passes for 110 yards with three touchdowns, and likewise scored on a jet sweep.

Roethlisberger’s 35-yard scoring strike with 2:59 left iced the sport after Philadelphia rallied to attain 16 unanswered factors to supply some dramatic sweat.

 It was a becoming final touch for Roethlisberger, who had his best recreation of the season. He accomplished 27 of 34 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns with no decide, all elements to a season-best 125.4 passer ranking. However past the stats, he deftly modified the play on the line of scrimmage to name Claypool’s quantity from a brand new formation that was simply crafted for this week’s recreation.

 “The good half about the entire thing is we’ve by no means run the play with that formation or that group on the sphere,” Roethlisberger stated.

Like outdated instances, although, Roethlisberger improvised with aplomb. He prolonged a couple of different performs, too, sidestepping would-be sacks, as we’ve seen all through his profession. Sure, he’s clearly again. At one level, he directed Pittsburgh to scores on 5 consecutive drives. And with a 10-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, Roethlisberger and his surgically repaired elbow are on monitor to make a powerful bid for NFL Comeback Participant of the Yr honors.

 “I’m nonetheless lacking the deep ball an excessive amount of, nonetheless overthrowing it,” Roethlisberger stated. “I do know final week I talked about it and stated I’d moderately overthrow it than underthrow it. However I’ve acquired to determine it out. I don’t know if the doc made my arm, I assume, a bit of stronger. I’ve acquired to determine easy methods to join on these deep balls a bit of extra.”

 Carson Wentz, the Eagles quarterback, would possibly gladly change issues with Roethlisberger. Accidents have ravaged Wentz’s offensive line and depleted his receiving corps. Now there’s a quarterback who may need a gripe. Wentz additionally had the misfortune of dealing with a big-play Pittsburgh protection that saved him beneath siege, which was mirrored by the 5 sacks and duress that resulted in two interceptions.

 Yeah, one man’s issues will not be fairly as dangerous as the subsequent man’s woes.

 In any occasion, the Steelers have demonstrated a eager capacity to regulate – and never solely to the schedule.

With working again James Conner missing constant explosiveness (2.9 yards a carry), O-coordinator Randy Fichtner creatively saved the Eagles protection on its toes with a heavy dose of jet sweeps or fake reverse runs by the wideouts – one in all which was a 58-yard run by Ray-Ray McCloud that was the largest acquire from a 136-yard speeding output. And Claypool knifed into the tip zone for a 2-yard rating on a sweep.

 “We type of threw the kitchen sink at them’” Roethlisberger stated.

Claypool additionally scored on a 5-yard reception that got here off a novel bunch formation, with 4 receivers aligned to the left. After a fast flare go, Claypool adopted his convoy of three blockers – Conner, Vance McDonald and Trey Edmunds – into the tip zone. Roethlisberger stated the Steelers have practiced that play for 3 or 4 weeks, however lastly used it in a recreation. And it labored.

 It’s nonetheless early, but when the Steelers maintain making the changes as they’ve recently, they’ll clearly place themselves as a severe contender to be there at the end.

If, after all, this NFL season certainly will get to the specified end line.

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