Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has announced that starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will sit out the regular-season finale as backup quarterback Mason Rudolph will start against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.
The Steelers, who own a 12-3 record, have already clinched a playoff spot and the AFC North title. Winning or losing to the Browns won't change much for the Steelers but coach Tomlin insisted his team would give everything to beat Cleveland.
"It does not change our intentions, in terms of going to Cleveland this weekend," Tomlin said, per ESPN. "Football is our game. Our job is winning. We intend to do our job. We intend to prepare with that mindset.
And ultimately lead us to that destination. We're not seeking comfort. We're not grading ourselves on a curve. "This game is on the schedule, and so the guys that will be on the field will represent us in the standard that is the Pittsburgh Steelers will be the standard."
Roethlisberger may not be the only Steeler to get a rest
The Steelers may rest more starters against the Browns but so far Roethlisberger was the only one named. "This is no preseason game where we're playing backups, where we have player 54 through 75 to evaluate and things of that nature," Tomlin said.
"We've got one NFL football team. That NFL football team will go play, minus Ben and maybe another guy or two. I don't want to make more out of it than what it is from that perspective." Last season, the Steelers' trip to Cleveland was marked by an incident, which saw Browns' Myles Garrett hitting Rudolph with his helmet.
"I haven't had a chance to talk to him about it," Tomlin said of Rudolph's return to Cleveland. "But I'm sure he's excited about getting an opportunity to start, certainly." In the end, Tomlin insisted that his team would enter the game motivated to get the win.
"Motivation and intentions and all of those things, that's good water cooler fodder and I get it," Tomlin said. "This is a scheduled game. Our business is to win. We're going to prepare with that mindset.
That will be unchanged in terms of how we approach it. ... I know what our mentality will be. I know what our intentions will be. We'll go play football." It's a must-win game for the Browns as Cleveland makes the playoffs with a win over the Steelers on Sunday.