The clock may be ticking on Ben Roethlisberger's Hall of Fame career, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers' playoff chances in 2021. Pittsburgh dropped a tough contest to the Minnesota Vikings Thursday night that dropped the Steelers a game out of the final playoff spot in the AFC, as eight teams are fighting for three wild card spots.
The Steelers attempted to erase a 29-point deficit -- which would have been the largest comeback in NFL regular season history -- only to fall eight points and 12 yards short in a 36-28 defeat. A frustrated Roethlisberger showcased his emotions throughout the game in multiple situations, specifically in a first half that saw Pittsburgh trail 29-0 and the quarterback being hit several times while trying to get the offense going.
"I try to do my best not to (get frustrated), but sometimes it's hard not to," Roethlisberger said. "And I hate that because I don't want to seem like I'm frustrated about anything in particular, but just a general frustration sometimes."
Roethlisberger didn't specifically vent his frustrations at any players, yet deferred one particular incident to head coach Mike Tomlin. Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool was benched by Tomlin for a portion of the game after an unnecessary roughness penalty in the first quarter. Claypool struck his finger in the mask of Minnesota Vikings cornerback Bashaud Breeland, forcing Tomlin to bench one of his top wideouts as a result.
Claypool's absence affected Pittsburgh's offense in the first half, but not to the extent later in the game. The Steelers wideout made a 9-yard catch on fourth-and-1 with 42 seconds left to extend the Steelers' final drive -- then proceeded to celebrate with a first-down celebration afterward. With no time outs and the clock ticking, the Steelers wasted 17 seconds between plays to spike the ball due to Claypool's celebration.
"It's not really my job. To me that goes up to Coach Tomlin. That's what he needs to do. That's his job as the head coach," Roethlisberger said on addressing Claypool's in-game issues. "As the quarterback, it's my job to help manage what we do on the field and getting 1st downs and trying to score.
"Dealing with player issues and whatever else you want to say, that's the coach's job, not mine."
Roethlisberger doesn't have time to dwell on mistakes and in-game incidents. The Steelers' season is dwindling away and the opportunity to gain ground on the teams they are chasing leaves no margin of error.
"I don't look at moral victories," Roethlisberger said. "I told the guys that as I walked around to the linemen and some of the skill guys, I'm not going to tell you all great moral victory, great fight back, because it's not that, but I'm proud of them for fighting."