Ben's backups in trouble

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:34 PM ET

Ben Roethlisberger may have his suspension reduced this week from six to four games. But, even then it might be too late to rescue the season for the Steelers.

Roethlisberger meets with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after Thursday’s final exhibition game and is hoping he can come back after the club’s Week 5 bye. While Roethlisberger has fulfilled all of the NFL’s “suggestions” since being accussed of sexual assaulting a college student, any leniency by Goodell would be controversial.

Some people believe Roethlisberger is lucky he isn’t going to jail and that he certainly shouldn’t be slapped on the wrist and allowed back on the field early. But the Steelers aren’t some of those people.

So far Roethlisberger’s fill-ins have been anything but inspiring. Veteran Byron Leftwich has been so mediocre the team decided to give Dennis Dixon a good look against Denver. He threw two costly interceptions, one that rookie cornerback Perrish Cox picked off in the end zone, and another that Andre’ Goodman returned for a touchdown.

He was supposed to be more athletic than Leftwich but failed to produce any points and also got sacked twice and he was six of 13 for 58 yards with a 19.6 passer rating. That’s not the performance coach Mike Tomlin was hoping to see from his third-year quarterback.

Charlie Batch wasn’t any better, also being intercepted for a TD. In other words, it’s back to Leftwich — and a plea for mercy from Goodell.


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