In the year 1905, Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana coined the following phrase: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
In layman’s terms, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is a duck,” and we would all be foolish to expect a Rottweiler to be camping out on our front porch as a guard dog.
During a Steelers/Patriots regular season matchup on Dec. 17, 2017, Patriots defensive back Duron Harmon silenced a very raucous Heinz Field crowd when he picked off Roethlisberger for the Steelers’ last play of the game. Harmon’s interception ended a very schizophrenic and bipolar effort from Roethlisberger and the Steelers and the Patriots sent the home team packing by the score of 27-24. During that game newly-exiled Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell had 24 carries for 117 yards and 1 touchdown, and yet Pittsburgh chose a pass play throwing into quadruple coverage up the middle seemingly trying to fool the Patriots—and that pass attempt was easily picked off.
Fast forward to the Nov. 18, 2018 Steelers vs. Jaguars contest in Jacksonville. Ben Roethlisberger threw three drive-killing interceptions, (he actually threw five picks but two were voided by penalties). Pittsburgh escaped with a 20-16 “victory!” after a game-clinching pick by Jacksonville was voided by a penalty.
This past Sunday, Nov. 25, Roethlisberger succeeded in gift-wrapping a 24-17 victory for the Denver Broncos by tossing another ill-advised end zone interception as the Steelers were on the verge of scoring the game-tying touchdown. Some of Roethlisberger’s followers are so loyal they find and invent excuses for his failures. There was an article on the Tribune-Review’s website later that day titled, “Xavier Grimble’s fumble sets tone for Steelers’ loss to Broncos.” The article went on to say that: “Grimble took a pass from Ben Roethlisberger and went 23 yards toward the left pylon for a score that would’ve given the Pittsburgh Steelers the lead on their second series against the Denver Broncos.”
I wholeheartedly disagree with the assessment that the fumble by Grimble on that particular play was the catalyst for the Steelers’ defeat. The Steelers had ample time to recover from that turnover. There is almost always no recovery possible when a turnover is committed with basically no time left on the clock. There is a common myth that when a quarterback breaks the huddle his primary responsibility is to “read the defense” and position his skill players accordingly. Based on Roethlisberger being picked off in the end zone in multiple games based on varied down-and-distance scenarios, it leads me to believe that opposing defenses are reading Ben Roethlisberger like an old suspense novel. The opposing teams know that when it’s crunch time “you can bet your sweet bippy” that Roethlisberger is going to be looking for his partner, wide receiver Antonio Brown, whether he is single, double or sometimes even triple-covered or he is probably going to try to complete a pass over the middle inside the 5 yard line. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it, and possibly “Big” Ben is sticking to his story too because; “those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”
If the strategy remains the same, the outcome won’t change and the Steelers will be condemned to watch Super Bowl LIII from afar; just glorious couch potatoes only dreaming about hoisting a seventh Lombardi trophy above their heads in the near future.
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