In last night's 16-13 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger left the game in the third quarter with an apparent shoulder injury. It was the same throwing shoulder that he had mentioned having a rotator cuff tear, although it obviously did not seem to bother him in the team's first eight games, as Ben was having one of his better seasons of his career.
Roethlisberger was replaced by veteran Byron Leftwich, who looked pretty rusty since this was his first action in the 2012 season and he had not thrown a pass in the NFL since 2010 and he only had seven attempts that year.
The reports have ranged from a sprained to a separated shoulder and there has been no indication of whether or not he will be ready to play next Sunday night when the Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens in a key AFC North match-up. The Ravens lead the division with a 7-2 record, while the Steelers are right on their heels at 6-3.
Even Pittsburgh fans will admit that their team had no business escaping with a win over what might be the worst team in the NFL last night. The Chiefs had both an offensive TD and defensive TD called back due to penalty and also missed a 31-yard FG. They needed to long FG just to force the extra session but KC QB Matt Cassel gave the game to the Steelers with an awful throw that was picked off and returned to the Chiefs five-yard line to set up the chip-shot game-winning field goal.
The Ravens and Steelers are scheduled to play twice in the next three weeks, with a trip to San Diego to play the Chargers sandwiched in between for Baltimore. This three-game stretch could define the rest of the season and determine the ultimate winner for the AFC North crown.
Whenever the Ravens and Steelers get together, you can always expect a football brawl of classic proportions and a healthy Ben Roethlisberger is a necessity for Pittsburgh to win. In between the two Ravens games, the Steelers travel to play the Cleveland Browns. If by some chance, the injury is more serious than not, Pittsburgh may choose to rest Ben for the first Ravens and then the Browns game to have him fully healthy for the second meeting of these two teams as well as the rest of the season and playoffs.
It's reasonable to expect that Pittsburgh would split those two games without their starting QB and have him ready to get revenge in Baltimore and still make the playoffs. More news will be released on this possible critical blow to the Steelers and how it could affect next week's game against the Ravens.