Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told the media on Tuesday that 38-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not start Sunday’s regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns. Roethlisberger will get a rest, his first since the team’s Week 4 bye, and backup Mason Rudolph will start instead.
#Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says w/ the one bye not available, he will indeed rest key starters this weekend. Says, "Given an opportunity to airmail a player or two into the postseason, we'll do that." #Browns, you'll see Mason Rudolph and not Ben Roethlisberger Sunday.
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) December 29, 2020
It may seem like the Steelers are punting Week 17, but they don’t have much to play for. They’ve already clinched the AFC North and can’t finish lower than the No. 3 seed in the AFC. The Kansas City Chiefs have already locked up the AFC’s No. 1 seed, and since there’s only one bye per conference this season there’s little benefit in risking their starters to win a game that’s mostly meaningless.
The No. 2 seed isn’t entirely meaningless. If the Steelers beat the Browns, and the Buffalo Bills lose to the Miami Dolphins, they secure No. 2 and will host the last team to make it into the playoffs.
Tomlin said that other key starters will sit on Sunday, but didn’t name any names yet. With the Browns’ playoff hopes on the line after they somehow lost to the New York Jets in Week 16, they’ve got to be thanking their lucky stars that the Steelers have nothing to play for and will be starting some second-stringers.
The game could still be pretty tense, though. The last time Rudolph started against the Browns, Myles Garrett served him a face-full of helmet during an on-field brawl. But with the Browns’ playoff chances hinging on them beating the Steelers, it’s likely they’ll leave the drama in the past and focus on ending their 17-year playoff drought.
More NFL from Yahoo Sports: