Why Ben Roethlisberger, Not Mike Tomlin, Should Be on the Hot Seat

Nick KostoraContributor IIIDecember 23, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers talks with head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers during their game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 23, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Mike Tomlin is undoubtedly going to receive plenty of criticism for the Pittsburgh Steelers missing the postseason, but Ben Roethlisberger is the one who belongs on the hot seat.

Roethlisberger has become the Steelers' own worst enemy of late, making bad decisions both on and off the field.

He obviously cannot be faulted for falling victim to injury in November, but his actions since returning have been troubling at best.

Roethlisberger's struggles started in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys as he threw an inexplicable overtime interception that cost Pittsburgh the game. Afterwards, Roethlisberger tossed out more than a couple hints that he was unhappy with the play-calling of offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Calling out your OC while you are fighting for a playoff berth is not the right way to build cohesion within your locker room and Roethlisberger should know that. He must be able to temper his frustration and keep it behind closed doors.

Making apologies later on does little to hide the fact that Roethlisberger went away from the standards of the Steelers organization. Haley's play-calling would have been fine if "Big Ben" did not throw a poor pass in the direction of Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr.

Still, there was a chance to move on from those faults as Pittsburgh squared off with the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16. Instead, Roethlisberger threw two costly interceptions.

The first, early in the game, was returned for a touchdown by Leon Hall. The second pick came with only 14 seconds left. Roethlisberger threw an errant pass deep down the field that was intercepted by Reggie Nelson and secured the Steelers' fate as a postseason onlooker.

Should Tomlin or Haley be held responsible for Roethlisberger's poor decisions with the football?

Absolutely not.

Yes, Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback that has done more than enough to solidify himself as the Steelers' long-term solution at QB, but he is also the one who has been costing Pittsburgh games lately.

Tomlin does still deserve some of the blame himself. The head coach of an 8-8 Steelers team will never be absolved of criticism. However, Pittsburgh has battled through numerous injuries and tribulations throughout this season.

Roethlisberger should have been a steadying force upon returning to the lineup and yet instead was a distraction off the field and made head-scratching mistakes on it.

If anyone on the Steelers should be criticized it is not Tomlin or even Haley, but "Big Ben."