Byron Leftwich: Pittsburgh Steelers Are Doomed Without Ben Roethlisberger at QB

Mike HoagCorrespondent IINovember 15, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 12:  Byron Leftwich #4 of the Pittsburgh Steelers gets up slowly after being hit by the Kansas City Chiefs during the game on November 12, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Steelers defeated the Chiefs 16-13.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers cannot make a playoff run without Ben Roethlisberger behind center.

That’s troubling, considering recent reports that Big Ben may miss significant action due to a “rare” rib injury that he suffered during the team’s Monday night win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

There is currently no timetable for the quarterback's return, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday.

Don’t forget that the Steelers have struggled heavily against the Baltimore Ravens, their Week 11 and 13 opponents, going 0-4 against them without their star quarterback. Pittsburgh could potentially be without him for both of those critical AFC North matchups.

Byron Leftwich came into the game against Kansas City and went 7 of 14 for 73 yards, as the Steelers squeaked out an overtime win against the lowly Chiefs.

But Roethlisberger had already put the team back in the game, and the defense sealed it in overtime.

Leftwich, who hasn’t won a game as a starter in his last seven tries dating back to 2006, will likely be asked to manage the offense and let the running attack and defense keep the Steelers in contention.

That’s all they can expect out of him at this point in his career.

Unfortunately, Pittsburgh simply doesn’t have the depth and defensive dominance like in 2010, when the team began the season with 3-1 record in Roethlisberger’s absence, due to a four-game suspension.

Inserting Leftwich into the fold will significantly change the game plan for a Steelers’ team that has relied heavily on Roethlisberger’s ability to evade pressure by moving in the pocket and slinging to a variety of receivers.

Leftwich is two years older and far less mobile than he was two years ago, and that’s saying something. His immobility and much slower release pales in comparison to Roethlisberger.

He also won’t have the luxury of an imposing running game, either. Despite coming on as of late, the Steelers’ offense has struggled to run the football consistently.

If Baltimore stacks the box and leaves its opportunistic secondary to set its sights on quick passes from Leftwich, it could get ugly at Heinz Field this Sunday night.

The Ravens are sixth in the NFL in interceptions, despite giving up some big chunks of yardage through the air.

That should help Leftwich settle in, but it won’t be enough to help the ageless veteran put together a game-winning formula.

A loss to Baltimore on Sunday could be the beginning of the end for the Steelers if they don’t plan ahead for extended time without Roethlisberger.

How long until the Steelers start calling the available free-agent quarterbacks watching from their couches?