Tuesday, 13 November 2012 07:09
No time is a good one to lose your quarterback, especially one like Ben Roethlisberger who has played well enough to be in the conversation for the league MVP.
But it appears the Steelers will have to play their arch-rivals without him Sunday in a game that could determine the AFC North Division winner. If the Steelers lose to Baltimore, then not only will fall two games behind the Ravens but have to play them again two weeks later in Baltimore.
All of a sudden, the timing of the birth of Roethlisberger’s baby boy is not as much a concern anymore as the timing of his right shoulder injury. He said he would miss a game rather than miss the baby’s birth, and now he may miss it anyway.
Roethlisberger has come back quickly from injuries in the past but it may be asking too much for him to come back for the game against the Ravens Sunday with an arm good enough to make all the throws.
As it stands now, the Steelers have to hope Roethlisberger will be ready for the second game against the Ravens the first week of December.
They can beat the Ravens with Leftwich – they nearly beat them once in Baltimore with Dennis Dixon at quarterback. Leftwich looked rusty Monday night and that’s understandable considering he has taken few snaps with the first team – and the first team receivers – and had not played in a real game since the final game against Cleveland when he mopped up and completed 5 of 7 passes. It’s his only real action since Sept. 27, 2009 when he started the first three games for the Tampa Bay Bucs, and then did not play again that season.
So a week of practice should help Leftwich immensely, especially getting on the same page with his receivers.
Onto some stuff:
--- Yes, the Steelers were lucky when the Chiefs had two touchdowns called back. One was a legitimate overturn by replay on what was clearly an incomplete pass by Leftwich that was originally called a fumble. The other came back on a holding penalty. If that’s “luck,’’ then so too was the Chiefs getting a score after an Isaac Redman fumble.
--- 8,000 no-shows at Heinz Field Monday night don’t begin to tell the story of the half-empty stadium in the fourth quarter and overtime. Yes, it was cold and rainy and it was a weeknight and it was the 1-7 KC Chiefs. Have Steelers ticket holders gone soft?
--- Ryan Clark says he is OK, but that’s two concussions for him in the past three weeks.
--- Mike Tomlin was true to his word that he would go with the hot hand at running back. Isaac Redman was hot coming in with 147 yards against the Giants. After his fumble, he was no longer hot and Tomlin switched to Jonathan Dwyer. He had 38 yards in the second quarter but then finished with just 56 yards and a 2.9-yard average. So who is hot now? Maybe Rashard Mendenhall.
--- Leftwich did show he still has that incredibly strong arm, and overthrew Mike Wallace deep on one play.
--- The Steelers run defense was not so good again. They allowed 142 yards, including a 100-yard game by Jamaal Charles.
--- No turnovers in regulation against a team that loves to turn it over and doing so at a near-record pace. They dropped a couple of interceptions. However, Lawrence Timmons made up for all of that in overtime.
--- Going for it on fourth-and-one at the 50 maybe wasn’t such a good idea but they escaped that one.
--- Mike Tomlin started his post-game press conference by saying “That’s no Ernie Banks, but we’ll take it.” For our younger readers, the Hall of Fame Cubbie was famous for saying “It’s a great day for a ballgame; let’s play two.’’
--- When asked if Roethlisberger could not play, would Leftwich start, Tomlin said he would not “get into hypotheticals.’’ But if Roethlisberger cannot play, Leftwich will start. He is the No. 2 quarterback.
--- Witnessed two more firsts covering the Steelers. I never saw a receiver catch a ball between his knees before as Mike Wallace did when he secured that 7-yard touchdown catch. And I never heard an official explain that he was penalizing a player for unsportsmanlike conduct because he cursed an official as referee Carl Cheffers accused Willie Colon of doing.
--- On October 7, Baltimore defeated Kansas City 9-6. But then, they played in KC.
--- I have not yet looked at a replay close enough but Matt Cassel said a defensive lineman tipped the pass that wound up in Lawrence Timmons’ hands. Haven’t seen a good shot of it yet.
Said Timmons: “I saw him throw the ball my way. I just read it, broke on it, caught the ball and made the play.’’
--- Shaun Suisham’s only miss this season came from 54 yards. He has now made 20 of his 21 field goal attempts in the best season of his career.
“He’s been rock-solid for us,’’ Tomlin said. “Not only tonight, but all season, regardless of circumstance or conditions. We respect him. He’s a critical part of our football team.’’
--- Timmons was having a very good game before his interception. It was the best of the season for him.
--- Brett Keisel also had his best game. He had the Steelers two sacks and also was second on the team with six solo tackles and eight total to go with four quarterback hurries.
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