Steelers QB Roethlisberger's status unknown vs. Ravens
Lots of NFL teams would love to have the Steelers' so-called dilemma at quarterback: To play or sit starter Ben Roethlisberger in Sunday's final regular season game at Baltimore.
Roethlisberger said Wednesday that he wants to play, despite suffering a sprained right ankle in last week's 41-24 win at St. Louis. He has been limited in practice this week and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Thursday that coach Mike Tomlin will determine Roethlisberger's playing status.
Roethlisberger could be a gametime decision.
"We're in the process of sorting through those things,'' Tomlin said.
"Everybody's going out and having the mentality that they need to do what it is that they need to do to prepare to play winning football.
"If that means resting them then we will definitely consider that.''
The Steelers, as the likely No. 4 seed in the AFC playoffs, aren't facing a must-win situation against the Ravens. They've already qualified for the postseason, and will become the No. 3 seed only in the unlikely event that San Diego loses to Oakland coupled with a Steelers' win.
Exposing Roethlisberger to further injury in what could be a meaningless regular-season finale might not be worth the risk for the Steelers. After all, Charlie Batch is a quality backup who has the ability to start for several teams and has been taking first-team reps this week.
"I don't call the game any different, no matter (who's) in the game,'' Arians said. "I expect them to play like the guy they replaced.''
But when deciding how long or whether Roethlisberger will play against Baltimore, the Steelers might want to consider Roethlisberger's track record when coming off a bye week.
It isn't mandatory that Roethlisberger starts against the Ravens, but if he sits out Sunday it means that he will go more than two weeks without playing in a game.
"That's why we pay the coach all the money -- to make decisions,'' receiver Hines Ward said. "You don't want to play players too much to risk injury. At the same time, you don't want to get out of sync. There's a risk doing that.''
In games following a bye week or injury, Roethlisberger is 4-4. He's 0-1 this season, 0-2 in 2006, 2-1 in 2005 (including a win in Super Bowl XL) and 2-0 in 2004.
In a 31-28 loss at Denver on Oct. 21, Roethlisberger was 24 of 35 for 290 yards and four touchdowns. He was intercepted twice and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
After missing the 2006 opener with an appendectomy, Roethlisberger was 17 of 32 for 141 yards with two interceptions in a 9-0 loss at Jacksonville. In a game that followed the Steelers' bye week last season, Roethlisberger was 20 of 31 for 220 yards with two interceptions in a 23-13 loss at San Diego.
Coming off the bye week in 2005, Roethlisberger was 17 of 26 for 225 yards and one touchdown in a 24-22 win at San Diego. Later that season, Roethlisberger returned from missing three games with a knee injury and was 17 of 26 for 133 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a 26-7 loss at Indianapolis. Two weeks after winning the AFC Championship Game, Roethlisberger was 9 of 21 for 123 yards and two interceptions in a 21-10 win over Seattle in Super Bowl XL.
In 2004, Roethlisberger's first season as a starter, he was 18 of 24 for 196 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-20 win over New England following a bye week. In the Steelers' playoff opener that season, which followed a first-round bye, Roethlisberger was 17 of 30 for 181 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a 20-17 win over the Jets.
Ward said the week entering the Baltimore game has been like a bye week, considering the Steelers last played Dec. 20. He also said the Steelers needed the quick turnaround after losing to Jacksonville and playing St. Louis four days later.
Roethlisberger tossed three touchdown passes and had a perfect passer rating against the Rams.
"We needed to get the taste out of our mouth after Jacksonville,'' Ward said. "It was very comforting to put on an offensive show like that. We want to keep the ball rolling.''