Tuesday, December 20, 2011

GTOPG: Move along, nothing to see here; Steelers lose 20-3

By Finesse

If there has been one constant in the Ben Roethlisberger era, it's that he really knows how to lay an egg.  When he decides to suck, he puts everything he has into it and really, really sucks.  And so it was last night, where he played on one leg and managed to render meaningless his 330 yards passing because of 4 turnovers and horrifically inept clock management at the end of the first half.  But in spite of this being perhaps the most unwatchable game of Ben's career -- and there have been several -- we're not overly concerned.  Well, maybe just a little.  Let us explain.

We explain, after the jump...

Perhaps the best thing about Roethlisberger is that he doesn't care what he looks like on the field, so long as he is limping.  He plays the ugliest game of any star quarterback, but it works for him.  The downside is that when he isn't 100% healthy, and he was far from that last night, he has the capacity within himself to be awful.  The plus side of his determination to do it his way no matter what, is that when he sucks for a quarter, or a half, or a week, it has absolutely no bearing on whether he is going to suck the next quarter, week, or half.  He plays one way.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Because again, he doesn't care what he looks like.

Seriously, he doesn't care what he looks like.
And for all the Tomlinisms that are going to come out this week about "all three phases," "[insert month] football" and "what have you," don't think for a second that he's overly concerned with last night's loss either.  He just wants to win the Super Bowl.  His job as a coach is to try to motivate his players to look good on the field, not for the sake of looking good, but for the sake of improving the chances of winning.  He's smart enough to know that the Steelers are so beloved, and the "Steeler Way" so envied, that even if the Steelers look horrible in the process, winning in the playoffs is all that matters.

This -- the license to play occasionally awful football without it causing a panic that distorts the bigger picture -- is perhaps the strongest and most valuable component of the intangible "Steeler Way."  Even though this is now a passing team -- witness the inexplicable 45 pass attempts with a one legged QB versus 19 run attempts -- the "smash-mouth Steelers" cliche buys this team a ton of slack when it comes to laying eggs.  Because the Steelers are branded as a football team that wins ugly, they have leeway to lose ugly.  The media (and GTOG) rightfully gives the team slack for the occasional stinker like last night, and the players, also rightfully, give themselves enough slack to have a bad game and bounce back.  So long as the Steelers go deep in the playoffs, looking sloppy along the way will be massaged into a virtue, not a criticism.

With that positive spin out of the way, there are three major concerns from this game:

1) Ben's ankle.  No one plays up an injury like he does, but he appears to actually be hurt.

2) Ben's attempt at spontaneous humor on a live microphone. During the second power outage, Ben yelled to no one in particular, "Where's James Harrison when you need him!!"  Ben then gave enough of a smirk to communicate to the confused national audience that his exclamation was intended to be a joke, but not enough of a laugh that we would think he was laughing at his own joke.

3) The defense's determination to give up a long scoring drive to start every game.

Those three things can be fixed with proper medical care, better judgment, and a turnover every once in a while, respectively.

So while last night was brutal, you'll notice that by Friday of this week, no one will be calling for coaches to be fired, no one will be calling for the backup QB (unless it's injury-related), and no one will be calling for any dramatic changes.  Instead, when the dust settles and when everyone calms down, nothing will have changed all that much from before the San Francisco game.  The Steelers are as likely as anyone else to come out of the AFC.*

*Depending on which Ben shows up.

1 comment:

  1. ben was referring to this http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_407370.html

    heres the video:

    You should probably mute the audio, but i thought the reference was funny