“It was dire,” head coach Mike Tomlin assessed of the situation the Steelers faced with 1:23 remaining in the fourth quarter and the ball at the Steelers’ 9-yard line and the Bengals leading, 16-15, in Saturday night’s AFC Wild Card Game at Paul Brown Stadium.
It became a little less so when quarterback
Nine plays, 74 yards, two defensive personal-foul penalties and a 35-yard
Roethlisberger had returned to the sideline after being carted off and getting checked out by the Steelers medical staff and attempting to throw a few passes in the locker room.
“Whether I can go or not at least me being out there will hopefully kind of get the guys going a little bit,” Roethlisberger said of his return.
He watched from the sideline as backup quarterback
But when the Steelers got the ball back, the long coat came off.
“(Tomlin) asked if I could throw,” Roethlisberger said. “I said ‘I think so.’ Threw a couple balls on the sideline, said ‘might as well give it a shot.’
But the ability to throw was enough right about then.
“Ben and I have been together nine years,” Tomlin said. “We kinda looked at each other and kinda said ‘now or never.’”
Roethlisberger said at least one request was beyond his capabilities at that point.
“Coach (offensive coordinator Todd Haley) called one deep one,” Roethlisberger said. “I went to the sideline and said, ‘Coach, you can’t do that anymore. I can’t throw it that far.’ We had to work our way down the field.”
“Pretty special,” Miller said. “I’m not sure of the extent of his injury but, obviously, it was bad enough that he couldn’t come back in the game initially. But he was willing to sacrifice for the team.
“It was loud. He just stepped in the huddle, called the play and we got moving.”
PLAY FOR 60: Jones’ interception sent the defense back onto the field one offensive snap after it had surrendered a seven-play, 45-yard drive in 1:38 that had resulted in a 16-15 Cincinnati lead.
One snap later Cockrell had the ball and the Steelers had new life.
“It’s really just mental toughness,” free safety
“That’s why you can never lose hope. Even when it looked bad, you can’t lose hope.”
Added defensive end Cam Heyward of the last-minute approach by the defense: “Keep going, keep talking (and) keep being positive. And we got a big play, Shazier ripped it and Ross recovered it and our offense did a great job of going down the field.”
He wound up with 17 carries for 58 yards and four catches for 60 yards against the Bengals.
“We said all week, and we meant it, we had a great deal of confidence in Fitz, not based on his resume but just based on what we see day to day,” Tomlin said. “Regardless of his position in the group he brings his hard hat. He comes to work every day, his demeanor has never changed. We find comfort in that.
“He did what we expected him to do.”
The Steelers finished with 167 rushing yards on 29 carries for a 5.8 average per despite not having running back
The 167 yards trailed only the 195 the Steelers generated on Nov. 8 against Oakland this season (they also had 167 on Oct. 1 against Baltimore).
“The backs ran really hard,” guard
THEY SAID IT: “I don’t really know what the key was to that game. That was not really the way we wanted that to go, but definitely thankful for the outcome.” - Mitchell on beating the Bengals.
“For whatever reason it’s kind of switched in these last two years. I’m not sure what changed it, their attitude towards us. We came out on top, that’s all I can ask.” - guard
“I don’t think it will ever be finished completely. We play each other twice a year forever. I think it’s always going to be tempers flaring and always going to be a great rivalry.” - linebacker
“Kinda surreal. At that point you’re running on instinct, fumes, just trying to keep him as clean as possible.” - DeCastro on Roethlisberger re-entering the game.
“He’s our guy. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone else.” - Tomlin on Roethlisberger.