The Pittsburgh Steelers were once one of the most feared teams in the NFL during their 11-0 start to the season, but it all came falling down over the past few weeks, and was put to a shocking end during the Wild Card game in a wild loss to the Cleveland Brown 48-37.
“We didn’t do enough,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said regarding the Steelers collapse, according to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “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.”
The Steelers will now have to wait and see if a pair of longtime veterans, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and center Maurkice Pouncey, will continue their playing careers.
“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.”
“I’m so thankful to have him as a quarterback, and I wouldn’t change it,” Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said of 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.”
“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.”
“It wasn’t good enough,” Roethlisberger said.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Roethlisberger will now take his time when deciding on his future.
“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,” Roethlisberger 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.”