"Human Punching Bag" Renamed a "Big Ben"
Earlier this week I read where Steelers offensive lineman, Willie Colon, stated that the Steelers weren't going to stand for Big Ben gettiing any more cheap shots. That's comforting knowing that Rothleisberger just endured one of the worst physical beatings ever by a Steelers quarterback as the Steelers fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia again, thus continuing a 42 year period where they have now lost on nine consecutive occasions.
Today's loss was especially puzzling considering that while Rothleisberger was resembling a human punching bag, the team really never attempted to establish a running game or make play-calling adjustments. During the second period, Big Ben endured one of the most ferocious pass rushes I've ever seen. On one play he nearly had his head ripped off on a facemask penalty and yet because of a very stout Steeler defense, the team went into the locker room down only four points, 10-6 in what was a very hard-fought game. To their credit, the Steelers defense was laying a lot of lumber of their own and some timely turnovers by Bryant McFadden and Troy Polamalu (his third interception already this year) had a lot to do with them still being in it.
Typically, in the NFL, a team that does not take advantage of having its' opponent clearly off balance can usually count on finding a way to lose later in the game. Even after Big Ben was called for a safety late in the fourth quarter. the Steelers were still down by just six points, 12-6 and still within striking distance. You could almost begin to sense the growing feeling of alarm among the Eagles fans.
However on this day it was not to be. The Eagles managed a short field goal that upped their advantage to 15-6. Rothleisberger then wound up leaving the game because of a hand injury on another rough tackle, giving way to his backup, Byron Leftwich. Leftwich came in and found an Eagles defense that was now ready to play the "prevent" game. He was able to connect on a few mid-range passes, but in the end, with the ball on the 21 with a minute to play, they opted to go for the touchdown on fourth down--unsuccessfully--than go for the short field goal in a two score situation, a questionable decision by Coach Mike Tomlin.. However, even had they made the field goal, the Steelers still would have had to recover an on-sides kickoff and then score a touchdown. all with no timeouts remaining. This is not an enviable situation to imagine winning any game with, let alone one on a day where a team had managed such a ferocious defense.
No, on this day, all the Bob Prince "Hidden Vigorish" in the world couldn't have offset a line that couldn't block, backs that couldn't pick up blitzers and a game plan that didn't account for either of these. I've seen games where a quarterback took a more savage beating...I just don't know when. Ben Rothleisberger should be given four days off and then throw a few balls around on Friday...if he can. He'll need that much time to recover from one of the worst NFL beatings endured on record. It had to be painful to watch for anyone living on the western side of the state. Worst of all, Philadelphia continues their mastery over the Steelers.
This game for Big Ben was so bad, the Steelers are fortunate that he didn't suffer a season or even career-ending injury...and let's hope that his hand isn't broken.. They're also very fortunate to have a competent backup quarterback. But next weeek they play the Ravens, a divisional foe and another guaranteed hard-hitting game. This is they way it's going to be all year for this team. They'd better figure out how to protect their quarterback(s) or they'll be searching the waiver wires looking for more fresh meat to throw to next week's pack of wild dogs.
Quarterbacks make the big money in the NFL. Small wonder why.