Roethlisberger feels 'funny' in knee, undergoes MRI

Dale Lolley with notes, quotes and anecdotes from Miami.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Ben Roethlisberger answered with a quick and curt, “No!” when asked if the Steelers' 30-15 loss to the Miami Dolphins could be considered a trap game.

But Roethlisberger was perhaps just trying to fool himself a little bit. Or perhaps he just knows that there’s no such thing as a trap game in the NFL when your quarterback just can’t play consistently on the road.

With his one-touchdown, two-interception performance against the Dolphins, Roethlisberger’s road struggles are undeniable.

Since the start of the 2014 season, Roethlisberger has now thrown 19 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions in regular-season road games. At home, over that same stretch, he has 51 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.

Is there anything Roethlisberger can put his finger on as to why that might be?

“Not at all,” Roethlisberger replied when asked just that. “We just played a good football team and we weren’t good enough.”

We all know that’s not true. The Dolphins won this game with their rushing attack in the second half and the fourth quarter, in particular, but realistically, they tried very hard to keep the Steelers in this one in the first three quarters.

Miami was 2-6 in the red zone in this game. The Dolphins had a touchdown negated by an illegal formation. They had a 24-yard field goal blocked by Daniel McCullers. They missed another field goal. Try as they might, they couldn’t offset Roethlisberger missing high, wide or short on his passes.

Yes, Roethlisberger went out for eight minutes of the second quarter, but he wasn’t clicking before that. And he certainly wasn’t after, at least not until Miami went into a prevent defense in the fourth quarter.

At one point in the third quarter, Roethlisberger had a passer rating of 26.9 for the game. Landry Jones came in and threw one incomplete pass and had a 39.6 rating.

As good as Roethlisberger has been at home this season, he was bad again on the road. And until the Steelers figure out how to get their offense to travel consistently, they’re not going to be a threat to New England in the AFC, no matter what happens next weekend.

@ The defense didn’t help matters by allowing Jay Ajayi, who had 117 yards rushing coming into this game, to gallop for 204 yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns.

Miami’s ability to run the ball pretty much made the Steelers’ pass rush a non-factor, not that they were getting much pressure on Ryan Tannehill, anyway.

Tannehill had been sacked 17 times in 156 pass attempts coming into this game, meaning he had been dropped once every 10 times he dropped back. He attempted 32 passes Sunday with the Steelers not even getting close enough to him to pull his flag.

“We didn’t have no pass rush today,” said Jarvis Jones. “They ran the ball. There wasn’t any pass rush. They didn’t really throw the ball. They had plays here and there. But really they just kept the ball and ran it. They ran the ball down our throat.”

@ Actually, the Dolphins were what the Steelers want to be - balanced. They had 36 runs and 32 pass attempts. But the point Jones was trying to make was that the Steelers didn’t know what was coming and they couldn’t stop it anyway.

Jones was a big part of that. As well as he played last week in a win over the New York Jets, he was equally as bad in this game. But he wasn’t alone. And the next time rookie cornerback Artie Burns tackles a guy to the ground, they should probably stop the game and give him a trophy. Pushing guys out of bounds doesn’t count.

The Dolphins had 10 meaningful possessions. They didn’t turn the ball over and punted twice.

@ Roethlisberger said he felt something “funny” in his knee and not in a good way when he exited the game in the second quarter.

“It actually happened before I threw the ball. I don’t know how it happened,” he said. “I just felt something funny in my knee.”

He’ll get that knee checked out Sunday night in Pittsburgh. But it’s doubtful that it’s anything major since he was OK'd to come back.

He probably wasn’t laughing too hard, though, when he saw backup Landry Jones heave a ball up for grabs on third-and-1 after Le'Veon Bell had just ripped off a pair of runs for 14 yards to get the Steelers out of a first-and-15.

Nobody but offensive coordinator Todd Haley knows the thought process there.

@As for a game plan that included Antonio Brown touching the ball twice in the first half, the receiver is a little ticked. He caught only four passes for 39 yards.

"My mentality is to get the ball and make a difference,” Brown said. “I just couldn’t make much of a difference today. We didn’t get it in my hands a lot and we’ve got to find a way to win games, especially games we should win.

"I don’t call the plays. I just run the plays. We didn’t get it done. No excuses.”

@ That said, the Dolphins went with the Philadelphia Eagles' game plan, setting up their line in a wide-9 and getting to Roethlisberger early. You’d better believe the Steelers are going to keep seeing that.

“They probably will because they think they can get away with it,” said tackle Chris Hubbard, who was subbing at right tackle for Marcus Gilbert. “That’s a good way to get to the quarterback.”

At least it has been against the Steelers.


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