Ben Roethlisberger has been cleared to play in Sunday's playoff game vs. the Chargers. According to Mike Tomlin, Roethlisberger was given a clean bill of health after passing the full battery of tests.
The question on everyone's mind is, "Is he ready to play?" According to today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ben is still having headaches and it hurts him to put on his helmet because it is "too tight." That is a concern.
Up until that quote, I had been dismissing the injury as a mild concussion that shouldn't create much of an issue. Two weeks off should be fine. Players often suffer a concussion and return the next week. But Ben doesn't have that history.
There are two major concerns for me.
The first is his health. If he gets bounced around a few times, and history has shown us he will, how will his body react? Will there be long-term effects? Will he become gun shy? Will his decision making be solid?
The second concern revolves around the team. I think the Steelers are very strong and are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. I also think that this season has parity like no other. I could see five or six different teams winning the Super Bowl. I can't say that about other seasons.
I firmly believe that the Steelers can win on Sunday without Roethlisberger. There defense has carried them through this season. I think Byron Leftwich is more than capable of getting them through one game. That isn't meant to discount the Chargers, they could easily remain hot.
The concern I have is that Ben is going to start. And rightfully so, he should start. The problem is that the Steelers can't overcome a poor, mistake filled first half. If they have to go to Leftwich after a few key mistakes they will be in serious trouble.
Going to Leftwich would mean they were down a few touchdowns, unless of course he is injured and then my point is moot.
Going into the half with a deficit greater than 10 points would not bode well.
Perhaps I am just being a typical Steelers fan. We are the "Chicken Little's" of the sports world. But it is enough to cause Steelers fans some concern.
I will feel much better after that first successful drive.