He cannot do the same escape acts that define his career.
But there’s no escaping the fact that Roethlisberger is still critical to the Steelers’ cause.
His veteran leadership helped the team come to life when everyone counted them out.
Regardless of what happens during their season, they are a different team without him.
Last Year For Roethlisberger?
There was a chance that Roethlisberger would not play in the 2021 NFL season.
Maurkice Pouncey, his long-time center, retired after the Steelers lost to the Cleveland Browns during their Wild Card encounter.
The two players had a gentleman’s agreement that they would retire from football at the same time.
However, Roethlisberger gave much thought to playing this year and eventually decided to give it another try.
The backstory: #Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger self-reported symptoms to the team, took a test and was positive for COVID-19, source said. A great example of a player doing the right thing and preventing spread. Tough to self-report but a strong leadership move overall.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 14, 2021
Early on, it looked like he made the wrong decision as the Steelers started at 1-3.
He was a huge factor in their slow start because he can’t put the same zip on the ball he once had.
As a result, he under-threw his receivers downfield, resulting in either an incompletion or an interception.
To his defense, Roethlisberger was already a broken man by this point.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) November 14, 2021
His extensive injury history took a toll on his body, and he became a shell of his former self.
While his physical traits dwindled, his football IQ remained intact, and he used his smarts to ignite a four-game winning streak.
Unfortunately, the Steelers ended the streak when Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19.
He failed to produce two negative tests within 24 hours, forcing him to miss what should have been another easy win against the Detroit Lions.
As a result, Pittsburgh endured an outcome that was worse than a defeat.
Steelers Settle For A Tie With Detroit
The Steelers had two opportunities to score the winning points against the Lions in overtime.
Unfortunately, both drives ended with a fumble.
It was not Roethlisberger’s fault that the team lost possession of the ball.
However, Pittsburgh wouldn’t have played that poorly if Roethlisberger was present.
If Steelers-Lions tie, do NOT tweet “a tie is like kissing your sister”
Kissing your sister is a LOSS.
Don’t do it.
— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) November 14, 2021
The 39-year-old play-caller would have found a way to bring more scoring opportunities for his team.
He would execute their offense to give Chris Boswell an easier kick to win the game.
Instead, the two teams played to a tie which is a terrible feeling because you neither won nor lost.
It’s easier to identify room for improvement when a team loses.
Steelers vs. Lions TIE game?! pic.twitter.com/WnwZSpJgOS
— Pittsburgh Dad (@Pittsburgh_Dad) November 17, 2021
But will the Steelers absorb lessons from a tied game?
Worst, they had a tie against the worst team this season and probably in NFL history.
That Tight AFC North Race
As of writing, the tie puts the Steelers at second place in their division.
However, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Browns both have five wins as well.
The race to the division title is so tight that another loss might relegate Pittsburgh into the cellar of the AFC North.
Unfortunately, Mason Rudolph is not the guy that can lead them to victory, as shown during the Detroit game.
Dwayne Haskins isn’t much of a help either.
The Ravens and Browns lose while the Steelers tie.
Excellent bye week work by the Bengals.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) November 14, 2021
Instead, they badly need Roethlisberger back in action, or their playoff hopes will slowly slip away.
If ever TV analysts list down the Steelers’ keys to the game, they don’t have to write what they must do.
All they need to mention is Roethlisberger’s name because that’s self-explanatory.