Former Steelers running back Josh Harris says Ben Roethlisberger fumbled on purpose late in a 2014 game because he wanted to spite offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who had called an offensive play when Roethlisberger thought the Steelers’ lead was large enough to kneel down.
It was the very last game of the 2014 regular season, Bengals-Steelers with the AFC North on the line. The Steelers had the ball and a 27-17 lead with 1:09 to play, and they could have just kneeled three times to run out the clock. But the coaching staff decided to call a play. That’s when, according to Harris, Roethlisberger fumbled intentionally.
“Todd Haley called a run play with very little time left in the game,” Harris wrote on Twitter. “Ben wanted to kneel. He rolled his eyes in the huddle. He then purposely fumbles the ball. I had to recover it. At that moment I knew what kinda person he was.”
Harris, lined up at running back in an I-formation, said he was supposed to get the handoff on the play, and Roethlisberger intentionally stuck the ball out in front of fullback Will Johnson to cause a fumble. After Harris recovered the fumble, Roethlisberger kneeled to run out the clock on the next play.
“And I was a fan of Ben,” Harris wrote. “I was star struck when I first saw him. It was an honor to see Big Ben. Then I saw what he was. It made it sour for me. That’s why they tell you never meet your hero’s.”
Fumbling on purpose late in an important game sounds so ridiculous it’s hard to believe, but Harris is adamant that it happened, and he says it’s an example of the kinds of things Roethlisberger does that make him fall out of favor with many in the Steelers’ locker room.