Ben Roethlisberger is out for tomorrow’s big Ravens-Steelers tilt on NBC despite being cleared to practice this week after he suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. If you are a Ravens fan you are happy about that because this pretty much guarantees a Baltimore victory on Sunday. If you are a Steelers fan, you probably are upset right now but if you stop and think about it, you should be very happy about the decision to not start #7 this week because it is absolutely the correct move for several reasons.
First and simply put, head injuries are not something to fool around with, just ask Steve Young and Troy Aikman about that.
Second, all you need to do is look at the Steelers remaining schedule and realize that this “must win” contest for the Ravens is not one for Pittsburgh. The Steelers, after tomorrow night’s likely loss to the Ravens that would drop them to 6-5, then have Oakland at home, are at Cleveland, return home to play Green Bay and Baltimore before finishing at Miami. If they were to play Big Ben tomorrow and he were to get hurt against a very physical Ravens defense they would be throwing their season away because they would be forced to go with their third string QB the rest of the way. However, if they sit Roethlisberger against the Ravens and let him get healthy for another week they are much more likely to wind up going 5-0 or 4-1 in their remaining five contests and easily make the playoffs.
Simply put, the Steelers season is in the balance if they risk putting #7 out there against a Ravens defense that is desperate. Add in a hostile stadium where crowd noise will be a major advantage for Ray Lewis and company and all it would take is for one missed Steelers blocking assignment to result in a big hit on Roethlisberger. A major blow that causes him to hit the artifical turf at M&T Bank stadium could force Roethlisberger to miss several more weeks. Surely Mike Tomlin and the Steelers have thought about this scenario and realize not playing Big Ben on Sunday night is the right way to go?
As much as Pittsburgh and their fans are going to hate to lose the battle to Baltimore this week, they should realize that they likely need to do this in order to have a chance at winning the war (i.e, make the playoffs and have a shot at the Lombardi Trophy).
As a Ravens fan, I am happy about this and will gladly wait to take my chances against Big Ben and the Steelers again later in December. After all, a Baltimore loss tomorrow likely has the Ravens thinking more about a draft pick than the playoffs. But if I were a Steelers fan, and thank goodness I am not, I would realize that the Pittsburgh organization is making the smart decision for this season and beyond by sitting one of the best QB’s in the NFL against a defense that must produce for its team on Sunday night and will not hold anything back.