PITTSBURGH-Is a one-legged Ben Roethlisberger better than a healthy Charlie Batch?
Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's answer to that question is obvious.
Roethlisberger played the entire game in the Steelers' costly 20-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.
Roethlisberger was willing to play despite a high ankle sprain. The doctors cleared him to play, and Tomlin had no decision to make.
He was going with his No. 1 quarterback.
That makes sense on a lot of levels. Roethlisberger is obviously one of the best quarterbacks in the game. Batch is a back-up.
But a couple of things became apparent early: Roethlisberger's mobility was limited by his injury, and the 49ers play dogged defense.
That combination led to three interceptions, a lost fumble and a passer rating of 52.3, Roethlisberger's lowest since 2009.
Does "good enough to play" translate into good enough to play well?
Roethlisberger had trouble moving; a big part of his game has always been extending the play and making things happen after he leaves the pocket.
Getting away from anyone was clearly a difficult task.
There's this issue, too. Pain is distracting.
If you drop a bowling ball on your foot, you can still report to your job as an accountant.
You don't need your feet to sit at a desk and work on a computer.
But the pain generated will often affect concentration and job performance.
There wasn't any aspect of the game that was easy or routine for Roethlisberger.
Yet there was never a call for Batch.
On Tuesday, Tomlin said making a switch was never a consideration.
Too bad. It could have helped, and it couldn't have hurt.
Roethlisberger might have benefited from sitting out a series. Having a quarterback in there who could run and move may have created problems for the 49ers.
Batch doesn't have anywhere near the talent that Roethlisberger does. But he was healthy and mobile.
Given the way the Steelers' offensive line was struggling, it was important to have a quarterback who was able to scramble away from pressure.
Tomlin's loyalty to Roethlisberger is admirable. Quarterbacks aren't just players, they're leaders.
Roethlisberger wanted to be there with his guys. That's admirable, too.
But the Steelers needed to win that game, and having Roethlisberger in for every snap didn't give them their best chance to do that.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org