Ben Roethlisberger thinks Steelers got 'short end of the stick' in Titans postponement

The (Greensburg) Tribune Review (TNS)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) warms up before an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

Still smarting over the Pittsburgh Steelers having an unexpected bye thrust on them in the fourth week of the season, Ben Roethlisberger took a few shots Wednesday at the NFL’s decision to postpone their game against the Tennessee Titans until later in the season.

“Of course, we got the short end of the stick,” Roethlisberger said about the game against the Titans being moved to Week 7.

Roethlisberger’s weekly interview session coincided with news that two more Titans players have tested positive for COVID-19. The latest positive tests — after two days of negative testing  threatens the playing of the Titans’ game Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

Given the spread of the outbreak throughout the organization — 22 players and staff members have tested positive since Sept. 24 — the Titans could be forced to forfeit their game against Buffalo. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said forfeits are a possibility for teams found in violation of NFL safety protocols regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Roethlisberger scoffed when asked whether the Steelers could be granted a forfeit instead of playing the rescheduled game against Tennessee on Oct. 25.

“I don’t think they will consider forfeiting our game and, of course, we got the short end of the stick,” Roethlisberger said.

Because of the postponement, the Steelers had to take their bye four weeks earlier than originally scheduled. It interrupted a three-game winning streak for the Steelers, who were prepared to play the 3-0 Titans until the NFL rescheduled it Thursday.

The decision also affected the Steelers’ game against the Baltimore Ravens. Originally scheduled for Oct. 25, it will be playing Nov. 1. With Baltimore having its bye moved to Oct. 25, the Ravens will have an extra week to prepare for the matchup of AFC North rivals.

Roethlisberger took another dig at the league when he was asked how he will try to keep his momentum from being slowed because of the off week. Roethlisberger has been critical of his play despite the team’s 3-0 start.

“The league already tried to slow it down,” Roethlisberger said. “So I guess I’m going to start back over from scratch and hope this last week I didn’t take too many steps backward. Just try to see how it goes this week, I guess.”

Defensive captain Cameron Heyward, who doubles as the team’s NFLPA representative, was more diplomatic in answering questions about the outbreak in Tennessee and how the bye impacted the Steelers.

Heyward said it would be “selfish” to put his own feelings ahead of the greater good.

“It’s understanding I have to be a little more flexible in adjusting to this,” he said. “A lot happened on the fly. We’re trying to adapt to the situation. Things are going to change by every minute now. We have to be willing to adjust. I know the NFL and NFLPA are trying to do right by the players and coaches. There is only so much they can do. It’s going to take discipline by each player and each team to help accommodate that.”

An added wrinkle for the Steelers this week is they will be permitted to have fans attend their game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Steelers will permit 5,500 fans inside Heinz Field after playing before an empty stadium against Denver and Houston.

“New challenges arise this week with fans being allowed in the game,” Roethlisberger said. “We can have guests in town. For the Roethlisberger family, no guests are coming in. But new challenges have been presented and, hopefully, guys will be as cautious and as careful as we have been to this point.”