The holiday season is upon us. Sure, that may warm your heart but for me, the approaching playoff run is equally as exciting. There was a team in particular that entered week twelve thinking, nay, doing their best Jim Carrey from Dumb & Dumber with regards to playoff possibilities. Who can’t imagine Ben Roethlisberger telling himself, the locker room, and even the lot attendants, “SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE?!”
I am sorry for your loss Pittsburgh Steelers, but your season is over!
When I was nine or ten, Dan Marino was my favorite NFL player. I remember his last season being a four-month gamble, with Miami pushing all their chips into the middle. That final annihilation by the hands of the Jaguars taught me a life lesson about staying around too long.
Week 12, 2021 was the Cincinnati Bengals emphatically hammering the last nail in the Big Ben Era’s coffin. The Bengals smacked down the Steelers 41-10, with Pittsburgh’s lone touchdown coming in the fourth quarter when garbage time started before the half. Former Steeler and current Bengal Mike Hilton called the divisional sweep of the Pittsburgh Steelers from the longtime doormat Cincinnati Bengals exactly what it was: a changing of the guard.
The Steelers entered this past offseason with a broken-down offensive line and did nothing of substance to upgrade it. This had a predictable result, with an aging quarterback forced to run (well, amble) for his life or check down to their rookie running back Najee Harris. Big Ben outpassed Burrow 293-190, but he chucked it 41 times to Burrow’s 24, who completed 20-of-24 passes. Roethlisberger also threw two interceptions, fumbled twice (recovered one), was sacked three times, and was hit an additional six times. When asked postgame what happened Ben replied, “You get your butt kicked, it happens. These things happen.”
Well, I feel inspired to get back out there and give it a go in Week 13. Don’t you?
The Pittsburgh offense has been a long shot to produce all season. However, as many know, the defense is the franchise’s traditional calling card. Yes, Ben is going to the Hall of Fame, and yes, he is washed up. But, the defense saw T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick return from various maladies. The Pittsburgh defense was poised for a bounce back and they completely whiffed against Cincinnati.
The Bengals scored on their first four drives and ended the first half up 31-3. It just felt like we were watching a high school homecoming game. Joe Mixon rushed for a career-high 165 yards and two scores. He was at 117 yards for the day at halftime! The Steel Curtain seemed so long ago, and their defense felt more like a roll of aluminum foil.
Steelers’ faithful can point to injuries and a lack of depth to help them cope with the remainder of the season. But, Mike Tomlin won’t let his team hide behind those. He won eleven in a row against the Bengals before losing three straight against their divisional rival Bengals.
Realistically, we could have already seen the last win of Big Ben’s career. Marino was crushed in a playoff farewell but Roethlisberger seems to be poised for a far more tragic and painful goodbye that will end not getting close to the playoffs one last time.
As is protocol, the captain will stay on with the sinking ship. Good thing the Three Rivers are there to wash away this memory.