Sources have confirmed to the Post-Gazette that Polamalu was playing with an injured Achilles tendon that robbed him of his trademark burst and explosiveness and was much worse than the Steelers let on. The injury occurred near the end of his 45-yard interception return for a touchdown Dec. 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals.â†µ
Despite the injury, Polamalu remained in the game and had a second interception in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory. But he was never the same after that.â†µ
This comes as no particular surprise. Polamalu was much less of a factor in games than he usually is - there were games earlier in the season where he seemed to be nearly omnipresent, but that wasn't the case in the playoffs. And he constantly, consistently skipped practice, which football players who are even somewhat healthy don't do. Polamalu is, obviously, a huge difference-maker when healthy, and one wonders how much he would have changed the game had he played.