“I was probably the best 49er tonight,” Roethlisberger said, via Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com.
Roethlisberger played through a sprained ankle that had him in obvious pain and lacking mobility, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was questioned afterward about why an obviously injured player was on the field at all. But Tomlin insisted that putting Roethlisberger out there — and keeping him out there, even at the end of a one-sided loss — was the right call.
“He was healthy enough to play,” Tomlin said. We always like what Ben provides us, not only from his quality of play, but his leadership. This guy is a tremendous competitor. We appreciate his efforts, obviously we fell short tonight.”
But was Roethlisberger really healthy enough? Roethlisberger, who said he did not take a painkilling injection, acknowledged that he was playing at less than 100 percent.
“I’ll go out and play at 5 percent. I don’t care,” Roethlisberger said.
The 49ers’ defense added to Roethlisberger’s pain with a big game, but afterward they said they respected Roethlisberger for toughing it out.
“My hat goes off to Roethlisberger,” 49ers defensive end Justin Smith said on ESPN after the game. “Him playing, hobbled up back there, he wouldn’t come out.”
But maybe he should have come out. His toughness was admirable, but it’s not a good thing for the Steelers when Roethlisberger is the opposing team’s best player.