If a surprise defeat to the Miami Dolphins did not inflict sufficient damage upon the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday evening, then the loss of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will certainly have pushed them over the edge. The 34-year-old suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee during the second quarter, and although returning to the field in the second half after a short absence, the veteran struggled to find his best form. With Roethlisberger clearly hampered by his latest injury setback, the home side came up short in both offense and defence, eventually succumbing by 30 points to 15. Although there has been no timeframe put on the injury in terms of a return to action, the two-time Super Bowl champion will certainly miss the Steelers next encounter against the New England Patriots.
Roethlisberger, who has been at the Heinz Field since 2004, had a NFL-high of 15 touchdown passes, and Head Coach Mike Tomlin will now look to Landry Jones to fill the void in his absence. The 27-year-old entered the game on Sunday when Roethlisberger went to the locker room, and looks the most likely option to gain a starting jersey in the coming weeks. It remains to be seen just how much of an impact such an injury will have on the team, with BettingSports.com still backing the Steelers to improve upon their 4-2 record so far this season.
Steelers fans are likely to be far more pessimistic however, as a result of the performances of the team the last time Roethlisberger suffered injury. The last time ‘Big Ben’ was out of action, Jones and Michael Vick failed to step up to the plate, providing little spark during his four game absence. With Vick now having of course departed from the Steelers roster, the emphasis will be placed upon Jones to finally make his mark, having been at the Heinz Field since 2013.
Despite suffering a severe injury, Roethlisberger missed just one series because of it, but was held to 189 yards passing, with the Dolphins taking full control on Sunday. Jay Ajayi was the man of the moment for the away team, rushing for 204 yards and two scores on 25 carries for the Dolphins
The Steelers had scored 74 points in their previous two encounters, however the fact that they were outgained by 474-297 shows their lack of cohesion in game week 6. Two Steelers players were physically sick late in the first half as a result of the 80-degree heat, with Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill stating that he was buoyed by such action.
Elsewhere, and in some welcome good news for the Steelers, defensive end Cam Heyward is optimistic about returning to action sooner than first expected. Having missed the defeat to the Dolphins, his first absence during his six-year professional career, Heyward could even return to the field against the Patriots. With a full prognosis not expected until later in the week, Heyward stated that:
“It’s not like we play today. If we played today, I wouldn’t play. I’m going to do whatever I can to get back to 100 percent. In the meantime, guys have to work and guys have to get ready.”
Also on the injury front, tight end with the team this week, however it remains to be seen whether the coaching staff will decide to activate him in time for the Patriots game. Green was initially signed to replace retired tight end Heath Miller, however when he takes to the field this week it will be the first time doing so for the Steelers. They have a 21-day window from the first time he practices to determine whether he’ll be activated.
Meanwhile, having been penalized twice on Sunday for unnecessary roughness, safety Mike Mitchell has played down the offenses, instead focusing on the future. A 15-yard penalty in the first quarter helped the Dolphins set up their first field goal, with the second helping to set up another field goal, in which the Steelers blocked, with Mitchell also suffering a minor injury during the game. The 29-year-old failed to blame the officials despite some questioning the decisions, stating:
“When I was looking at them I didn’t see too much,” Mitchell said. “My teammates and coaches know I play with my heart. I’m an emotional guy. I never want to hurt this team. It’s unfortunate that it happened. So I have to do a better job. The officials always do their best. They do a good job of explaining things to us, or trying to. It can’t happen.”
The Steelers announced earlier this week that wide receiver Cobi Hamilton has been promoted to the team’s active roster, having spent the first five games of the season in the practice squad. He signed with the Steelers during the team’s 2016 training camp on August 5, after originally being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
It is certainly not all doom and gloom for the Steelers, and with many fans excited about their teams upcoming test against the Patriots, there is still plenty to play for after just seven games. The Steelers will hit their bye week at almost the perfect time, and have the 5 of their 6 division games following this period. Should the ever growing injury list on the roster receive some welcome news over the coming days, a surprise win against the Patriots, who hold a 5-1 record so fa this season, is certainly not hard to imagine.