By BOB LABRIOLA
In the bottom-line business that is professional football, here is the bottom line:
Ben Roethlisberger did not practice with the rest of the team on Tuesday, and Coach Mike Tomlin isn't ready to rule him out of the week's other scheduled workouts, which are on Wednesday and Thursday.
Everything else with regard to the concussion Roethlisberger sustained last Sunday vs. the Cleveland Browns is a process, and the process is ongoing.
"He's doing better. He's starting the process of taking the battery of tests that come after one sustains a concussion," said Tomlin. "I don't know where we are in terms of the results of those tests. We have less urgency this time around, because we don't have a game this week, quite honestly. We held him out today, like we did with James Farrior and a lot of veteran players. We're going to proceed slowly with him because we have that luxury, but we're comfortable with where he is relative to being ready for our next game."
In the immediate aftermath of the Steelers loss in Tennessee to the Titans on Dec. 21, Tomlin said the team was going to play the regular season finale vs. the Browns to win the game, even though the playoff seedings atop the AFC had been determined. In Tomlin's mind, playing to win meant playing the starters.
"We are playing the game and we are playing to win. That is what the National Football League is all about," said Tomlin the week before the Browns game. "You rebound from negative performances, and we have had a few this year. Thankfully, we have always bounced back and found a way to win the following week. Everything we do (vs. the Browns) will be with that in mind."
With 5:35 left in the second quarter of a tie game last Sunday, Roethlisberger's 20-yard pass to Heath Miller set up a 34-yard run by Willie Parker for the game's first touchdown. After the Browns went three-and-out, the Steelers got the ball back at their 48-yard line with 2:32 left in the half.
On first down, Roethlisberger' completed a 15-yard pass to Santonio Holmes. He then threw incomplete for Holmes, and the next play – a second-and-10 from the Browns 37-yard line – was when he was injured after being hit by D'Qwell Jackson and Willie McGinest.
Tomlin was asked if he second-guesses his decision to have had Roethlisberger in the game at that point.
"We don't have that luxury. We don't live in that world," said Tomlin. "I never second-guess the decisions that we make. We're thoughtful in the process of coming to those decisions, and when we make them we live with them."
And so the Steelers are living with the attention that always accompanies an injury to Roethlisberger. But just because he's the starting quarterback and they are the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs won't change how they approach the situation.