Ben Roethlisberger injury: Can Steelers win without star QB?

Gregory Shamus

The Steelers won an ugly one against the Chiefs Monday night, losing their quarterback in the process.

Can the Steelers win without Ben Roethlisberger? Monday night's matchup against the Chiefs proved that the answer is "yes" -- but only if, by "yes," you mean that they can slog through against one of the worst teams in the NFL thanks to a perfectly-timed terrible throw by Matt Cassel. Against the Ravens, who they'll play twice in the next three weeks, probably not so much.

The Steelers' 16-13 victory Monday night was about as bad as a win can be. Both teams played poorly, and the game was difficult to watch. Roethlisberger left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Roethlisberger's agent told Rick Reilly that his client was headed to the hospital and that it was a "non-traditional" injury. It's unclear, at this point, exactly what that means. Jason Cole later reported that Roethlisberger had a separated shoulder. We'll have to wait and see how serious this is, but until we know, it's hardly crazy to entertain the possibility that the Steelers will be without Roethlisberger for awhile.

Which leaves us with ... Byron Leftwich, whose last regular-season action came in 2010 and who hasn't played in more than five games in a season since 2006. Leftwich is a thirty-something journeyman, and he looked like it Monday night, with a sloooowww delivery and a bunch of short passes that weren't exactly crisply delivered. Even cutting Leftwich some slack for his sudden entrance in gloomy conditions at Heinz Field, he isn't Roethlisberger, or anything resembling him. If Roethlisberger is unable to play next week, the Steelers' chances against the first-place Ravens drop precipitously.

To top all that off, the Steelers also lost defensive back Ryan Clark in the fourth quarter with what looked like it might be a concussion.

The Steelers' victory on Monday was Pyrrhic, and it's not an exaggeration to say that the season could hang in the balance if Roethlisberger doesn't return.

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