Confidence was brimming in the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room ahead of their Wild Card Round Playoff against the Cleveland Browns. The home team won the AFC North after starting the season with a perfect 11-0 record. But Ben Roethlisberger and Co. were handed a major upset as Baker Mayfield led the Browns to the Divisional Playoff.
Mayfield went 21 of 34, throwing 263 yards with 3 passing TDs as the visitors won by a 37-48 margin at the Heinz Field. The home fans were understandably stunned after failing to make the next round, despite such a promising start to their campaign. Head coach Mike Tomlin painted a frustrated figure in the post-game presser for the same reason.
Multiple Steelers players were pictured crying on the field after a heart-breaking loss to the Browns on Sunday night. The likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Juju Smith-Schuster, Cameron Heyward, and others could not hold back their tears after a disastrous display in the Wild Card Round. But coach Tomlin did not hold back on self-criticism as he blamed his own team’s indecisiveness for the loss.
“We didn’t do enough. We didn’t position them in enough good circumstances. We didn’t make enough plays, particularly in the critical moments. We were a group that died on the vine.”
“We didn’t perform well enough tonight. Not coaching, not playing. You can chalk it up to the turnover game. But we weren’t good enough in a lot of other areas, communication, in terms of detail. Just not a good night for us. In the single-elimination tournaments, when you don’t have a good night, you go home,” Tomlin said after the game via ESPN.
Speculation is rife pertaining to the short-term future of Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. Some analysts fear that Big Ben has already played his last game for the Steelers. But the veteran NFL QB is not ready to make any final decision, just yet.
Things could have ended quite differently had the Steelers defense put in a stronger display against COVID-19 depleted Browns squad.