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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw his coaches under the bus.

Ben Roethlisberger lays last-second confusion at feet of Steelers coaches

Ryan Wooden

Prior to throwing a game-ending interception against the New England Patriots on Sunday night, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t on the same page with his coaching staff.

After Darrius Heyward-Bey was tackled inbounds with the clock winding inside 20 seconds and the Steelers trailing by 3 points, Roethlisberger seemed to think that spiking the ball was somehow in the team’s best interest. The Steelers coaching staff wanted him to run another play, and what transpired during the confusion cost them the game.

Only one receiver, Eli Rogers, wound up running a route on the play and Roethlisberger forced the ball into a tight window. It was batted and intercepted, and now the Steelers are at risk of having to travel to Gillette Stadium for a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game.

After the game, however, Roethlisberger laid that confusion at the feet of his coaching staff.

“It wasn’t a fake spike,” Roethlisberger said according to Alex Marvez of Sporting News. “I was yelling, ‘Clock it!’ I felt like that was the thing to do — clock it and get yourself one play.

“It came from the sideline: ‘Don’t clock it! Don’t clock it!’ Well, at that time, everyone thinks it’s a clock [play], so you don’t have time to get everyone lined up.”

In hindsight, it’s easy to say that Roethlisberger was right. Had they done what he’d hoped and spiked the ball, the Steelers would have gotten Chris Boswell out onto the field for a game-tying field goal.

However, in that moment, it was actually Roethlisberger who was wrong and him not knowing the situation played heavily into the confusion. On third-and-goal, the Steelers had enough time on the clock to comfortably run a play into the end zone, which was their only way of winning the football game in regulation.

A spike would have wasted a down and brought up a fourth down that required them to kick a field goal. And that still would have left Tom Brady with 10-to-15 seconds and two timeouts to get the Patriots back into field-goal range before time expired, so even that was no guarantee to extend the game.

Ultimately, it was Roethlisberger’s responsibility to know the situation and keep his teammates calm so that they could get lined up to run a play quickly. But because he made the motion to say that they were going to spike the ball, a sizable portion of the offense didn’t know what they were doing.

The fact that Roethlisberger still doesn’t know it’s a problem actually is the problem. And  laying that embarrassment at the feet of the coaching staff is an even bigger problem.

The Steelers looked like the more talented football team for most of Sunday’s game and did so without Antonio Brown, who was injured in the first quarter and was unable to return. However, if Pittsburgh is going to get past New England in the postseason, they’re going to need their Hall of Fame quarterback to know the situation.

Why? Because Tom Brady surely wouldn’t have made that mistake.