Curran: Roethlisberger can't establish greatness

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Curran: Roethlisberger can't establish greatness

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON One tick under two minutes left and 87 yards to cover. With his team trailing by six, Ben Roethlisbergers chance to force his way into the pantheon of all-time great quarterbacks was right in front of him.

Ready or not.

Not.

The Steelers mismanaged their final possession, exiting Super Bowl XLV with barely a whimper after mounting a stirring second-half comeback.

The final score? 31-25. The plays made by Roethlisberger to kick the coffee table about? Several.

The final drive of the Steelers season? Sloppy. Aimless. Ill-informed.

With 119 seconds left, the Steelers were first-and-10 on their own 13 with one timeout.

On the first two plays of the drive, Roethlisberger threw in the middle of the field. The first was complete to Heath Miller for 15 yards. The second was complete to a rolling Hines Ward. Tick, tick, tick.

Now there were less than 90 seconds left and the clock rolled on.

Mike Wallace, split out wide to the right, flailed his arms trying to get the call. Roethlisberger didnt see him. Shortly before the snap, Mewelde Moore saw Wallace and told Wallace the play.

Wallace ran a go-route. Roethlisberger under duress threw it into the third row.

By the time the ball hit the ground, just 62 seconds remained. It was third-and-5. Fifty-seven seconds had been burned. Twenty yards had been gained. No clock-stopping spike after the first completion. No timeout when they were disorganized.

On third down, Roethlisberger threw a low-percentage pass, inside the numbers that skipped past Wallace on the right.

With 56 seconds left, it was fourth-and-5. Pick up the first down, your season continues. Fail and the Packers are Super Bowl champions.

Roethlisberger threw high and hard to Wallace, who failed to come up with it, and the game was over.

Its funny, we get into these conversations every year about this time. Whos an elite quarterback? Brady or Manning? Is Manning the greatest ever? Is Brees better than Brady? So much of it seems to hinge on these Sundays in February.

If these games are the measuring stick, then consider this: In Peyton Mannings two Super Bowl appearances, hes won in a forgettable performance and thrown a game-sealing interception in the other. A loss.

In Roethlisbergers three Super Bowls, hes played awful and won. Hes played brilliant and won. Hes played awful and lost.

Tom Brady? He was brilliant in three Super Bowls and in the one he lost, he was merely average. Still, in the one he lost he not only threw a touchdown pass in the final four minutes to give the Patriots the lead, he threw a 70-yard bomb on the final drive of the game that ticked off the fingers of Randy Moss. He didnt go quietly.

Roethlisberger did. And he went down unprepared. Sitting at the podium Sunday night, he didnt even know how many timeouts the Steelers had.

Its disappointing to lose, but its more disappointing to let other people down . . . said Roethlisberger, who finished 25-of-40 for 263 yards with two touchdown passes and two costly picks, both of which led to Packers touchdowns. I turned the ball over. You cant do that. Starting the final drive you feel pretty good, you like your chances. We had one timeout or no timeouts. It was gonna be tough but we never stopped believing.

Why the throws into the middle of the field and the apparent time wasting?

They did a great job of taking away deep things and taking away the outside, Roethlisberger explained. We stuck with very limited options there with that much time and no timeouts left.

Told that they did have a timeout, Roethlisberger shrugged.

If I had played a little bit better, I feel like we would have had a better chance to win the game, Roethlisberger sighed. Yeah. Probably.

Roethlisberger is an excellent player. A unique player. But the its not always pretty, draw-it-up-in-the-sand approach doesnt float when youre operating like that on the final drive of the Super Bowl. And thats what it felt like.

Roethlisberger has given his teammates and the football-watching public plenty of reason to think that the Packers were in trouble when he began the final Steelers drive.

I was like, Here we go again, " said Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. But it didnt happen. We were scrambling a little bit because we lost Emmanuel Sanders, one of Pittsburghs wideouts. Guys were in a little bit different positions and we lost a little bit of time to set up.

The turnovers Roethlisberger responsible for two and running back Rashard Mendenhall the other (a fumble that also turned into seven for Green Bay) were the common lament after the game.

I had a feeling we were going to do it again, said Steelers receiver Hines Ward. Weve been in those situations, those two minute drives but we should have never been in that situation. Thats the discouraging part. We turned the ball over. You cant beat a team like the Packers turning the ball over.

The first pick wasnt all on Roethlisberger. He had pressure in his face and was unable to step into a throw intended for Wallace. Nick Collins picked it off and went the distance to make it 14-0. The next pick was a force. A throw into a well-covered Wallace was intercepted by Jarrett Bush and turned into a touchdown four plays later.

Those are sins of commission. Not knowing the timeout situation, not being attuned to the clock on the final drive? Thats a sin of omission and its hard to forgive.

Im sure there will be many instances where we can look back at this game and wish that we had done things differently, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin answered when asked about the final drive. Im at the front of that line. Im not going to dispute any of those suggestions.

We had 1:59 left a timeout and a bunch of grass in front of us, he acknowledged. Weve been in that situation a bunch, weve practiced that situation a bunch and quite frankly were fully able to execute it. But Sunday night we didnt.

Asked to assess Roethlisbergers performance, Tomlin said without flinching, It was a losing one. Just like mine.

Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.