- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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If Byron Leftwich isn't healthy to play Sunday at Cleveland, why did coach Mike Tomlin let the quarterback finish last Sunday night's game against the Ravens?
Tomlin said he never seriously thought about pulling Leftwich because his play didn't dictate it.
"I knew he had a certain level of discomfort," Tomlin said Tuesday. "But I didn't see anything in his performance coupled with those discussions to lead me to believe that he needed to be pulled. As a matter of fact, at the end of the game, he threw a ball down the middle of the field to Heath [Miller] that I thought was an accurate and appropriate throw. The throw that he made to [Jerricho] Cotchery on the sideline on the second or maybe last play of the game was a throw with great velocity and accuracy. I didn't see anything transpiring on the field, coupled with the discussions we had, to lead me to believe not to believe what was being said."
Tomlin acknowledged that Leftwich hurt his shoulder when he awkwardly fell in the end zone after his touchdown run in the first minute of the game. Although Tomlin doesn't know exactly when Leftwich fractured his ribs, he feels that it happened much later in the game.
"If I had to guess, the last sack might be something that you could point to potentially," Tomlin said.
Leftwich, though, clutched the right side of his rib cage on several occasions much earlier than that. He was far from accurate throughout the game (46 percent completion rate) and severely underthrew open receivers Mike Wallace and David Gilreath late in the fourth quarter.
So, either one of two things happened: Tomlin didn't see Leftwich grabbing his ribs (like the millions of fans watching on national television) or he was reluctant to go with Charlie Batch.
"There were no serious discussions about pulling him from the game," Tomlin said. "Obviously, we didn't know he had rib fractures. That's just part of football. We appreciate his willingness to battle."
Now, with Leftwich and Ben Roethlisberger both out for Sunday, Tomlin has no decision to make at starting quarterback.
2dEric D. Williams
2dEric D. Williams