|Big Ben limps down the steps to the locker room after Pittsburgh beat Cleveland last Thursday. (AP)|
The logical conclusion for the remainder of the Steelers season is that they will rest quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against the Rams and Browns. In fact, on Wednesday we noted rumors that Ben would likely be out Saturday against Cleveland, despite the quarterback saying he was optimistic he'd play.
Roethlisberger was asked about those rumors specifically on Thursday, and, per Mike Bires of the Beaver County Times, staunchly denied that he's currently planning on sitting out against St. Louis.
"They always like to say things," Roethlisberger said when asked about reports that he wouldn't play. "Unless Coach said something, I will wait to hear it from him."
Roethlisberger, simply put, didn't look healthy against the 49ers. He looked like a guy with a bum ankle who needed rest in order to gain his mobility back, not to mention his ability to step into throws.
The Steelers obviously want to win the next two weeks, but they don't need to win. They hold the tiebreaker over the only three 8-6 teams -- the Bengals (head-to-head), the Broncos (conference record) and the Jets (conference record) -- that could potentially catch them for the fifth seed.
Pittsburgh could still win the AFC North, but it would require the Ravens losing to either the Browns at home or the Bengals on the road. Though the latter is certainly possible, it's still not likely, and if Charlie Batch is able to hand the ball off well enough to score 21 points each of the next two weeks, the Steelers could get away with resting Roethlisberger for the postseason.
Which is precisely why they should, even if Ben doesn't want to rest and is maintaining that the isn't planning on it yet.
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