Citing a need to go into the playoffs on a positive note, Mike Tomlin rolled the dice by playing most of his starters in a meaningless game against the 4-11 Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.
By the time the first rays of sun begin hitting the waters that surround the Golden Triangle, the Pittsburgh press corps will undoubtedly be reminding Tomlin of that old credo:
- Careful for what you wish for, for you may get it
The Steelers hammered the Cleveland Browns, notching their first shut out of the season and closing the season with a clean sweep of the AFC North and improving their final record to 12-4.
They also saw Ben Roethlisberger carted off of the field after taking a vicious hit late in the second quarter.
The good news is that Ben’s injury was only a concussion, and with an extra week off he should be ready to return to the starting line up in two weeks. But there is little doubt that time between now and then will be filled as the pundits second guess Tomlin’s move.
No Buyers Remorse Here
For the record, Steel Curtain Rising fully endorsed Tomlin’s decision to play to win. While the Steelers could not improve their playoff position today, they were a team in the need of a shot in the arm. While the Steelers 12-4 record does include impressive wins over teams such as The New England Patriots, The Dallas Cowboys, the San Diego Chargers, and the Baltimore Ravens, both of their wins over the Cincinnati Bengals were criticized as lackluster.
One week after seeing their beloved Terrible Towel stomped on in Nashville after they self destructed against the Tennessee Titans, the last thing the Steelers did was another slid-shod performance against one of the league’s bottom feeders.
- This victory had a price, and if Ben struggles in the playoffs, the din created by those calling for Tomlin’s head will be deafening.
But football is a contact sport. You play, you risk injury. And, as they used to say on the playgrounds, if you can’t take the pain, don’t play the game.
Steel Curtain Rising was not happy to click the Post-Gazette’s home page to learn that Ben was taken out on a stretcher. (Takes to Direct TV Argentina’s “Pay full price but get half the Sunday ticket” policy, the game was not shown in Argentina.)
But Mike Tomlin knew the risks involved in playing his starters, and did not hesitate because he is a coach who plays to win instead of one that plays not to lose.
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