Were it not for rookie center Maurkice Pouncey playing as well as he has, the Super Bowl-bound Pittsburgh Steelers might be one of 30 teams at home watching instead. Even as a rookie, Pouncey seemed to bring a calming presence to a hectic Steelers offensive line that most thought was on the verge of a collapse.
But after being injured in the Steelers’ AFC Championship win over the New York Jets, uncertainty once again has struck the Pittsburgh offensive line at the worst possible time.
In the couple days after the game, Pouncey seemed optimistic he would be able to play in Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers, but fellow offensive lineman Chris Kemoeatu is talking like Pouncey has already been ruled out.
“We are definitely sad that he won’t be able to be with us in the Super Bowl,” said Kemoeatu following a Wednesday practice. “Definitely I feel bad for him. We just have to win it for him.”
It’s not known right now whether Kemoeatu is simply assuming or if he just let the cat out of the bag, but either way it wouldn’t be too surprising if Pouncey was forced to miss the big game. His ankle went completely sideways and was fallen upon, and he was forced to use crutches just to stand on the sideline. Seeing him play would be more surprising than the alternative.
The Steelers now have a very, very big problem.
Doug Legursky will take over for Pouncey at center, and we saw that nearly result in tragedy for the Steelers against the Jets. On at least two separate occasions, Legursky did not turn the ball sideways as he snapped it resulting in a mishandling of the snap by Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger was able to fall on the ball both times, but one time resulted in a safety and two points for the Jets at a critical point in the game.
The Jets still had a chance to come back at that point but had dug themselves into a hole with poor play in the first half. The Steelers likely won’t have that cushion in the Super Bowl, and a mishandled snap could be disastrous to the team’s attempt at their seventh Super Bowl win.
Two full weeks of practice might help solve the problem, but if it doesn’t it could result in a long day for the Steelers offense.