Tears gushed down Ben Roethlisberger’s face. Sitting close to him on the seat, Maurkice Pouncey, probably the closest companion and long-term partners, likewise cried as the feeling gushed out.
The scoreboard confronting them enlightened the inconceivable: Their season was finished and their professions may be as well.
In the wake of falling behind by four scores in the main a large portion of, the Pittsburgh Steelers couldn’t finish the rebound Sunday night, tumbling to the Cleveland Browns in the trump card round of the end of the season games 48-37. A promising 11-0 season was diminished to a 1-5 get done with a first-round exit at home – with a last score that looked nearer than it ever felt.
“We didn’t do enough,” Steelers mentor Mike Tomlin said of the late-season breakdown. “We didn’t position them in enough good circumstances. We didn’t make enough plays, particularly in the critical moments. We were a group that died on the vine.”
Pouncey, a 10-year veteran, and Roethlisberger made a promise years back to play as long as the other one did, and with Sunday night’s misfortune and one year left on their agreements, that day is a lot nearer than at any other time. They sat on the seat long after their partners left the field, talking and absorbing it all.
“I love that guy,” Roethlisberger said of Pouncey. “He is one of the best competitors and teammates I’ve ever had. It’s been so much fun to share a football field with him. I hate that it ended the way it did. I just wanted to apologize to him that I wanted to win it for him.”
As Roethlisberger and Pouncey sat on the seat, a couple of Steelers moved toward the pair and imparted a couple of seconds to them. Wide collector JuJu Smith-Schuster, presently entering free office without precedent for his vocation, mournfully embraced his quarterback.
“I’m so thankful to have him as a quarterback, and I wouldn’t change it,” Smith-Schuster said in sharing what he told Roethlisberger. “I told him, I don’t know what your plans or what’s planned for you guys, but I’m truly thankful, from the time I walked in, first day, to the time Ben taking me under his wing. Ben told me that, ‘You fought hard, you’re a warrior and thank you.’ It was just all love.”
Roethlisberger, 38, tossed for 501 yards on 68 pass endeavors with four scores on Sunday. However, his four captures bound the Steelers, who fell behind 28-0 in the primary quarter.
From the start, the absolute first snap of what could be the pair’s last game at Heinz Field didn’t go the manner in which they anticipated. A high snap from Pouncey cruised over Roethlisberger’s head on the underlying play. Roethlisberger and James Conner mixed to corral the free ball, however neither took a successful action to make sure about it. All things being equal, the Browns jumped on it and took a 7-0 lead with only 14 seconds off the clock.
It just deteriorated from that point. The Browns transformed three Roethlisberger initial half capture attempts into 21 focuses for an eventually unconquerable lead, as the Pittsburgh guard couldn’t slow Nick Chubb and the Browns’ offense. The Steelers didn’t record a solitary sack or power a turnover; they are 1-4 this season when they haven’t had a turnover.
“We blew it,” Steelers defensive captain Cameron Heyward said. “I can’t sugarcoat it. You look at the score. As a defense, we gave up too many points. And as a leader, as a leader of the defense, I failed, miserably; and you know, it’s tough to lose. It’s tough to lose guys in our locker room who have done great things on and off the field. And you know, that unknown just kills me. To squander an opportunity like that and to know we didn’t play our brand of football, and it sucks.”
Roethlisberger’s terrible first half 20-of-30 passing for 177 yards and three capture attempts was a revolting reverberation of the principal parts in the customary season against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Indianapolis Colts, when it appeared to be the future Hall of Famer lost his touch. Against the Colts, he discovered his section for a rebound win in the subsequent half. Against the Browns, it was past the point of no return.
“It wasn’t good enough,” Roethlisberger said of his performances. “When you lose a game like this, you can look back and evaluate all you want on the season, how you did during this game, that game, runs, stretches. I mean, at some point, we’ll look back on the whole thing.”
“But when it doesn’t end the way you want it to, you’re always going to feel some kind of way, like you came up short or it’s your fault.”
The Steelers started flooding after halftime on Sunday, outscoring the Browns 13-0. In any case, Tomlin picked to play for field position and punt on fourth-and-1 from the 46 to open the final quarter, adequately stopping his group’s energy. The Browns scored on the following drive to take a 42-23 lead.
“We had some stops, wanted to pin them down, maybe provide the short field for our offense,” Tomlin said. “We had maybe two or three consecutive stops. I just wanted to keep the momentum going in terms of field positioning. But we weren’t good enough in terms of doing that.”
With the misfortune, the Steelers have dropped three season finisher games straight, including a 2017 misfortune to the Jacksonville Jaguars, when Pittsburgh surrendered 45 focuses to the guests.
“It is what it is,” Tomlin said when asked about personal accountability for the postseason failures. “Our record is our record. Our performances are our performances. Don’t run away from that.”
Tomlin, who doesn’t have a losing customary season as the Steelers’ lead trainer, has recently a .500 imprint in the postseason.
“We didn’t perform well enough tonight,” he said. “Not coaching, not playing. You can chalk it up to the turnover game. But we weren’t good enough in a lot of other areas, communication, in terms of detail. Just not a good night for us. In the single-elimination tournaments, when you don’t have a good night, you go home.”
With the season over, Roethlisberger has a significant choice approaching. He has one year left on his agreement worth $41.2 million, and he has said before that in the event that he isn’t playing such that helps his group, he’ll “hang it up.”
After Sunday’s challenge, however, Roethlisberger said he hadn’t settled on a choice about his future yet.
“It’s going to start between me and God, a lot of praying. A lot of talking with my family, discussions, decisions. I still have a year left on my contract,” he said. “I hope the Steelers want me back, if that’s the way we go. There will be a lot of discussions. But now is not the time for that.”
“This loss is fresh. It’s just sitting on our hearts and our minds right now. It will for a while.”