Early in his career, Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t exactly the most mature player in the NFL. But at 34, he’s one of Pittsburgh’s elder statesmen, and his response to the Antonio Brown incident – public disappointment – was just what the doctor ordered.
“Ben Roethlisberger has become a leader,” Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan host Colin Dunlap said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The way that he was, early in his career, just somebody who was immature, was somebody who needed his ship righted – and that happened – he’s become a great leader. He and Ramon Foster and James Harrison are the leaders in that locker room. The way that Ben Roethlisberger has handled (the Brown stuff) both publicly and privately, I think, has been spot on.”
That’s good – because the Steelers will need all hands on deck for the AFC Championship this Sunday in Foxboro. The Steelers have won nine straight games, while New England has won eight straight.
“My concern,” Dunlap said, “and I know it’s Week 19, but it’s that Tom Brady looks out there and sees Artie Burns and he sees Sean Davis in the defensive backfield and they’re two rookies and Tom Brady rubs his hands together and licks his chops and says, ‘We’re going that way’ and Tom Brady eats them alive. I know they’re not rookies anymore, as people say, but for me, if they can’t any sort of semblance of pressure on Tom and he does that, that would be an enormous, enormous liability, I think. I do think the Steelers will score points because Belichick is now faced with a team that’s really truly multi-faceted. If you want to take Le’Veon Bell away, Antonio Brown can do great things, and if you take Antonio Brown away, Le’Veon Bell can do dynamic things.”
Bell has 1,431 total yards and nine touchdowns (eight rushing, one receiving) over his last eight games.
Dunlap’s offensive game plan against New England is pretty simple.
“In my opinion, because of the Steelers offensive line, I would make it 1950s football if I were the Pittsburgh Steelers and I would run the football until the Patriots stop me,” he said. “Antonio Brown can pout all he wants. Ben can be mad if he’d like to be. Le’Veon Bell in this stretch of eight games or so has been as good of a back as there’s been in a long time in the NFL. You got to keep pumping him the ball. The Steelers didn’t score (any touchdowns) against the Kansas City Chiefs because they got in the red zone and quit giving Le’Veon Bell the football. It was that simple. If I’m Todd Haley or I’m Mike Tomlin, you come out and you hand (the ball to) Le’Veon Bell until people stop him because no one’s been able to the last eight weeks.”
Sunday’s kickoff is slated for 6:40 p.m. ET.