Injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger watches the Pittsburgh Steelers… (Gene J. Puskar / Associated…)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger says he's going to try to play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
That should be good news to Steelers fans, whose beloved team has gone 0-2 the last two weeks while Roethlisberger was out with a shoulder/rib injury.
Or is it? One thing the Steelers need much more than the presence of Roethlisberger on the field is the presence of a healthy Roethlisberger — and they need that down the stretch, not just for one game.
Roethlisberger loves to play through pain, and while that's admirable, it sometimes can be more harmful than helpful if he risks injuring himself more or even if he's just preventing himself from healing properly.
A similar situation occurred last December and the Steelers handled it the wrong way. Roethlisberger left a Thursday night game against the Cleveland Browns with a high-ankle sprain, an injury that needs rest in order to heal.
The Steelers, who had already clinched a playoff spot but were looking for a division title, started Roethlisberger twice in the final three games of the regular season and both times the two-time Super Bowl winner was far from 100%.
Furthermore, the healing process was set back both times and the team was stuck with a hobbled quarterback for the playoffs, which the Steelers exited after the first round.
This year, a playoff spot is anything but assured for the Steelers. That's exactly why they may need to sit Roethlisberger against the Ravens, even though they could very easily lose that game and drop to 6-6.
They have four winnable games down the stretch against the San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns — winnable, that is, if they have a healthy Roethlisberger.
A 10-6 record should be good enough for a wild-card spot in the AFC this year. And with Roethlisberger and some of his other banged-up teammates back at full strength, the Steelers could still be dangerous in the playoffs.
But they need to get there first.
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