Pittsburgh Steelers' star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had to leave Monday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs with what appeared to be an injury to his throwing shoulder. At first glance, the injury could have been as little as a sprain and could have meant as little as two or three weeks of recovery time.
It turns out it might be something much worse (as reported by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
#Steelers Ben Roethlisberger has a rare rib injury that could kill him by pressing against his aorta. Too big risk. Has to wait until heals— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) November 14, 2012
Reportedly, the hit that hurt Roethlisberger's shoulder also damaged one of the ribs close to his heart and his aorta. If further injured, it could be extremely dangerous. This means that Big Ben will have to wait until this injury is fully healed before stepping back onto a football field.
With an injury this dangerous, one has to expect that Roethlisberger and the Steelers will give it the recovery time and the gravity that it deserves. Assuming they do, this can have major ramifications for the Steelers and the AFC wild-card picture. At 6-3, the Steelers are tied with the Indianapolis Colts for the two wild-card spots.
With a relatively easy schedule remaining, the Steelers had every reason to feel good about their chances. With backup quarterback Byron Leftwich playing, they might not be so confident. With Leftwich playing the latter part of Monday night's game, the Steelers were pushed all the way to overtime by the 1-8 Chiefs.
Yet playoff talk is irrelevant. If the rib injury to Roethlisberger is as serious as is feared, that takes precedence over the Steelers' season.