Early in the second quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers game against their hated rival, the Baltimore Ravens, on Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger missed a wide-open Antonio Brown on a third-down play, instead throwing too high for Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers had to punt.
Brown was fuming on the sideline, flinging an empty Gatorade cooler and yelling.
After the game – the Steelers won, 26-9 – the incident was downplayed, with Roethlisberger saying Brown is “passionate … about wanting to help this team.”
But on Tuesday, Roethlisberger was singing a different tune.
Appearing on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan, the quarterback minimized his role in the missed connection and said other players wouldn’t have handled things like Brown did.
“He got upset because he was open, which I can understand, sometimes that happens … it’s not like I intentionally missed him, it’s not like I intentionally didn’t throw it to him,” Roethlisberger said. “I was doing what my reads tell me to do, I don’t even want to say I made a mistake, because I was reading the side I was supposed to read. It’s just unfortunate that it happened, and it’s unfortunate that he acted and reacted that way.
“I told him on the sideline, ‘AB, just come talk to me, ask me what happened, tell me that you were open.’ You know, if that were Heath Miller, I’d probably ask Heath on the sideline, ‘Hey Heath, were you open?’ and he’d probably tell me ‘No,’ because he wouldn’t want you to feel bad, that’s just who he was…that goes a lot further than throwing a temper tantrum.”
Roethlisberger said teammates and offensive coordinator Todd Haley tried to talk to Brown, and that he worries about the impression Brown’s behavior makes on young receivers like Juju Smith-Schuster.
“I don’t know that (Brown) needs to react that way. He’s super human on the football field and when that happens, it almost brings him back to being a mere mortal if you will, because it gets in his head and it just messes with all of us a little bit.”
After calling Brown own, Roethlisberger said he wasn’t “trying to call ‘AB’ out,” but said, “this is causing a distraction none of us really need.”
Which is ironic, considering Roethlisberger is on the record as saying this may be his last year with Pittsburgh. Which also means it may not be. Which must be fun for a franchise to have hanging over its season.
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