Steelers awaiting Ben's MRI results

The Steelers, their fans and nearly everyone else in the NFL knew it had to happen sooner or later -- Ben Roethlisberger would be knocked from the field of play with an injury.

Roethlisberger re-injured a right shoulder that was separated in the opener and did not play in the second half of the Steelers' 23-6 victory in Washington on Monday night. Byron Leftwich replaced him and completed seven of 10 passes for 129 yards and one touchdown.

This injury to Roethlisberger, though, did not happen as the result of a sack, of which he's on a record pace. It occurred near the end of the first half when he burrowed to the left of his center for a 1-yard touchdown.

Roethlisberger said after the game he was "OK," although the team was awaiting the results of an MRI on Tuesday. Coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger could have played if they needed him. However, how the shoulder reacts in a short week will determine whether he starts against Indianapolis on Sunday in Heinz Field or Leftwich gets his first start in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have three consecutive home games -- Indy, San Diego and Cincinnati -- and a one-game lead in the AFC North at 6-2 over 5-3 Baltimore. It might be time to shut down Big Ben for a game or two and let that shoulder heal.

He has not missed a game this season even though he has been sacked 26 times, a pace that would topple Cliff Stoudt's team record of 51 in 1983. Roethlisberger did leave early in the third game at Philadelphia to have his right hand X-rayed but had not been removed since because of an injury until Monday.

"I've got a good football team around me," said Leftwich, who completed his first pass of the game for 50 yards to Nate Washington. "I just wanted to get the ball in my guys' hands.


--It has become almost standard practice for Steelers fans to turn out in droves for road games, but it had to stun the Redskins to see so many of them waiving their towels and making the kind of noise they did Monday night at FedEx Field.

"I'll be honest with you, I was surprised," Washington coach Jim Zorn said. "It reminded me of the Super Bowl in 2005."

--The Steelers are still without a 100-yard receiver and, in fact, have now gone a full season's worth of games without having one.

The last time a Steelers receiver topped 100 yards came in the eighth game of last season when Santonio Holmes caught four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-7 victory against Baltimore in Heinz Field. Hines Ward topped 100 yards in last January's playoff loss to Jacksonville.

--The Steelers' first victory in three tries against an NFC opponent this season gives them a record of 14-4 in their past 18 games against the other conference.

--It was Pittsburgh's first win in Washington since 1964.


--WR Nate Washington caught a 50-yard pass from Byron Leftwich on Monday. It was the fourth straight game Washington had a reception of 48 yards or more.

--TE Heath Miller has a sprained right ankle that forced him out of Monday's game in the first half. His status is unknown.

--RB Mewelde Moore took over the kickoff return duties from Najeh Davenport but fared little better with a 20.0-yard average on three returns Monday.

--LB James Harrison's 1.5 sacks give him 10 halfway through the season. The Steelers' single-season record is 15.

--PK Jeff Reed, perfect on 11 field-goal tries this season, missed his first PAT since 2003.


PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus -- Ben Roethlisberger was terrible, completing just five of 17 passes for 50 yards with three sacks, one interception and a 15.1 passer rating, all in the first half. Byron Leftwich was the antidote in the second half. He completed seven of 10 for 129 yards, one touchdown and a 145.8 passer rating. He was sacked twice.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Willie Parker returned and had a decent game with 70 yards on 21 carries and a 1-yard rushing touchdown. No one else had much, though. Roethlisberger sneaked 1 yard for a touchdown, part of a 64-yard effort on 29 carries.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- Jason Campbell had not thrown an interception this season before Deshea Townsend and Tyrone Carter each picked him off in the second half. Campbell was sacked 16 times in the first eight games, seven times Monday night by the Steelers. He completed 24 of 43 passes for only 206 yards, no touchdowns, a long of 29 yards and a rating of 49.2.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Clinton Portis, the NFL's leading rusher, managed only 51 yards on 13 carries, 22 of them on one try. The Redskins did not try the ground much, there was so little there -- they had 60 total yards on 15 carries and no touchdowns. The Pittsburgh run defense put another notch on its belt.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- So the punter did not punt very well, and the opening onside kick try failed, and the kicker missed his first extra point in five years. LB Andre Frazier recorded the Steelers' first blocked punt in two years, and it led to the go-ahead touchdown late in the first half. Jeff Reed did make a 35-yard field goal with a new long snapper, and the Redskins had no returns to speak of.

COACHING: B -- The decision to try an onside kick to open the game won't go down among history's most brilliant coaching moves. The continued ignoring of the running game with a quarterback who was struggling in the first half did not seem very smart. But defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau trumped them all with his continued masterful coaching on a defense that smothered the Redskins' passing and running attacks.

Steel City Insider Top Stories