Tim Benz: Sorry Ben, fans and media can speak negatively about a Steelers win
Steelers fans, don't speak negatively about your team's win in Indianapolis.
You aren't allowed to do so.
Only the coach is allowed to do that. You aren't.
Oh, and as a media member, I'm not either.
So said Ben Roethlisberger.
The 7-2 Pittsburgh Steelers just played the 3-7 Colts. On defense, those Colts rank in the bottom four of the NFL in points per game, yards per game and passing yards allowed.
Yet, 32 minutes into Sunday's game at Lucas Oil Stadium, Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense had just three points and trailed by two touchdowns.
By the end of the game, the Steelers eked out a 20-17 victory.
Along the way, the Steelers committed nine penalties. They were just 5 of 13 on third down. They dropped multiple passes, only had 88 rushing yards and botched two kicks.
Afterwards, coach Mike Tomlin offered a blunt assessment of his team's performance.
“We didn't play great today,” Tomlin said. “There's a lot of negativity to talk about. But we'll talk about all that negativity with a win.”
Tomlin went on to be critical of his club's offense. He seemed peeved the Colts blocked an extra point. He described his team's tackling as “shoddy” in the first half. Plus he said the Steelers were “fortunate” to win.
He's right about all of that. As is every media member who might have advanced a similar opinion. As is any fan with a cellphone who might have called a postgame talk show.
But according to Roethlisberger on his weekly KDKA-FM radio appearance Monday, only the coach should say such things out loud.
“The fans, the media, they should only care about the wins,” Roethlisberger said. “They're not coaching us. They are the ones that should be happy that we won the game.
“The coach's job is to coach us and preach on the negatives and figure out how we can be better so we don't do the negative things again. So, yes, that's his job.”
Yes, Ben. It is Tomlin's job. It's not the job of the fan base.
But let's be clear about something: They are fans. They aren't employed by the team. They don't have “a job” here.
What they do have is a prerogative. And if their prerogative is to point out the same criticisms about the team's performance the coach did, the quarterback shouldn't take issue with that.
In terms of the media's job? Well, it's exactly opposite of what Roethlisberger said.
The media's job isn't to simply state the fact the team won and be happy about it. It's our job to tell the story of how the win/loss occurred regardless of whether or not that story makes us happy.
And this story wasn't one of rousing victory. Rather it was more of a macabre Grimms' fairy tale with a lesson to be learned of how tenuous the line is between a win or a loss in the NFL.
That's a lesson these Steelers failed to heed numerous times in recent years.
They almost did again Sunday. So if the fans and media agree with the coach's accurate narrative, the team captain shouldn't be publicly judgmental of either group.
About an hour after Roethlisberger's comments, Tomlin said this about being critical even in the wake of victory:
“The bottom line is to win,” Tomlin said. “But you analyze those performances because you are simply positioning yourself for the next challenge. So if I am in any way negative in the midst of victory it is with that purpose in mind.
“Prepare. Play. Analyze. Repeat process. That analysis is as big a part of it as anything because it is your compass for your next preparation.”
That's a succinct yet insightful way of the coach describing his own job.
The media's job of informing and entertaining fans is significantly easier. But it isn't very different in that regard.
Prepare. Perform. Analyze. Repeat process.
As for the fans, as mentioned earlier: They don't have to perform a job. In fact, they are the consumers. So they can react however they want.
Right now the fans also have a “compass” that is pointed directly toward Heinz Field on Jan. 21st for the AFC Championship game.
On Sunday shortly after halftime, the dial on that compass started to spin in a northeasterly direction toward Foxborough when it appeared the Steelers might suffer the latest in what would be a long line of losses to inferior competition.
I don't begrudge the fans for getting concerned because that happened.
Even if the quarterback does.
Tim Benz hosts the Steelers pregame show on WDVE and ESPN Pittsburgh. He is a regular host/contributor on KDKA-TV and 105.9 FM.