The Pittsburgh Steelers have become well-known as a team that isn’t afraid of failure. Head coach Mike Tomlin has notoriously referred to it as not wanting to live in their fears.
They take that mantra with them wherever they go, including to the fourth quarter of Sunday’s matchup with the previously unbeaten Tennessee Titans.
The Steelers were leading by a field goal and were driving deep into Tennessee territory when they were faced with a 3rd and 12 at the Titans’ 19-yard line.
Ben Roethlisberger surveyed the scene and saw that he had JuJu Smith-Schuster working down the seam against a Titans linebacker. He threw for the end zone, eschewing multiple shorter options that might have been more open.
The ball hit Smith-Schuster’s hands, was batted up by the defender and intercepted, giving the Titans new life and making Pittsburgh sweat out the final seconds before Stephen Gostkowski’s missed field goal ended their comeback hopes.
The Steelers didn’t need the touchdown, already ahead by three points. With only 2:40 on the clock, a first down would have nearly ended the game all by itself. But Roethlisberger went for the kill shot on a mismatch.
📽 Amani Hooker sauve Tennessee ! 3e interception du match pour la défense sur cette passe déviée de Ben Roethlisberger ! #Titans
— NFL France (@NFLFrance) October 25, 2020
“I’ll take JuJu down the middle on a linebacker,” Roethlisberger said after the game. “I’ve just got to get it about six inches higher on his back shoulder. You don’t expect the ball to get tipped up in the air and intercepted. You hope it falls incomplete, but they intercepted it.”
While Roethlisberger was taking the blame for putting the ball in a place where the defender could get a hand on it, Smith-Schuster lamented not being able to come down with the ball.
“I was glad Ben threw it,” he said. “Obviously, Ben trusted me enough to throw the ball there. … That’s a play I have to make.”
But despite Roethlisberger’s slight impression and Smith-Schuster being unable to secure the ball, you can expect the Steelers to continue to chase that type of play.
“It’s NFL football,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “We’re playing to win. We don’t live in our fears. Is it a combat play? Is it tight? Yes. But we’ve got a quarterback that’s been doing that for 17 years. Sometimes, you’ve got to acknowledge that they made the play in the moment. We desire to and that’s why we’re not going to live in our fears. We’re going to go in those instances.”
Alex Highsmith Needs MRI after Ankle Injury Suffered vs. Browns
PITTSBURGH — Steelers rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith suffered an ankle injury that will require an MRI in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Highsmith left the game in the first half and was seen limping on the Pittsburgh sideline. He made an attempt to return to the game, but was unable to continue playing and did not see the field at all in the second half.
In-game, the Steelers announced that Highsmith was doubtful to return with an ankle injury. After the fact, head coach Mike Tomlin said that Highsmith suffered a high ankle sprain. Highsmith’s father posted on Twitter early on Monday morning that Highsmith will require an MRI on his injured ankle.
Not the way we wanted the season to end but I am thankful to have been a part of this amazing ride! The Highsmith Family is proud to wear the Black & Gold and we look forward to more success in the future! Please pray for Alex as he gets an MRI tomorrow on his ankle! #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/JJA4PpZpvx
— Sam Highsmith (@SHighsmithClan) January 11, 2021
Given that Highsmith was able to walk and even run in short bursts after the injury, it does not seem likely that it will impact his offseason training plans.
The team’s third-round draft pick out of Charlotte, Highsmith was thrust into a starting role after starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree suffered an ACL injury that required surgery.
On the season, Highsmith played in 16 regular season game and made five starts. He finished with 48 tackles, five for a loss, six quarterback hits, one interception and one pass defended.
With Dupree set to become an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return, Highsmith should be expected to retain his starting role in 2021.
Mike Tomlin Doesn’t Regret Punt, Will Talk to Ben Roethlisberger About Future
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin answers questions from the media following his team’s shocking defeat at the hands of the Browns in the playoffs. Tomlin explained why he decided to punt on a 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter while trailing by multiple scores. He also touched on the timeline for when he will talk to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger about his future with the team.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Says He Doesn’t Regret ‘Browns Is the Browns’ Comment
PITTSBURGH — It was repeated so often in the five days between when JuJu Smith-Schuster said the phrase on Wednesday to Sunday night’s game at Heinz Field, that it nearly became the No. 1 talking point coming into the game.
“The Browns is the Browns.” Before the game, after the game and probably during the game, many of the Browns made it clear that they had taken exception to Smith-Schuster’s characterization of the team.
The Browns IS THE BROWNS!! 🌚
— Jedrick Wills Jr.®️++💕 (@JWills73) January 11, 2021
Smith-Schuster said after the game that he had no regrets about what he said.
“You know, I don’t regret what I said,” Smith-Schuster said. “I said, ‘The Browns is the Browns.’ They came out and they played a hell of a game. You know, there’s been games where we feel we lose them and today wasn’t our night and hopefully the same Browns will show up next week against the same opponent and go out and do the same thing they did tonight and have a hell of a game.”