Ravens vs. Steelers: How Pittsburgh Can Win Without Ben Roethlisberger
The Pittsburgh Steelers' chances at returning to the postseason for the third consecutive season took a big hit when star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went down with rib and shoulder injuries, as the two-time Super Bowl champion is the unquestioned heart of the Steelers' offense.
Despite the loss of Big Ben, the Steelers remain in a favorable position to capture at least a Wild Card berth, as they're two games up on the Cincinnati Bengals, who are the Steelers' closest competitors for the sixth and final playoff spot.
Nonetheless, Pittsburgh will have to find ways to generate offense in Roethlisberger's absence, because according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, the Pro Bowl signal-caller will be out for at least a few weeks.
Steelers doctors believe Roethlisberger will miss three weeks, though the team has not abandoned hope that he may miss only two games and be able to return for the rematch against the Ravens.
Roethlisberger has been ruled out of Sunday night's game against the Ravens and is not expected to play next Sunday at Cleveland.
Fortunately, the Steelers will have their top running back on the field for Sunday's game against Baltimore, as Rashard Mendenhall is set to get the start in the backfield, which will take pressure off of Byron Leftwich, who will be making his first start since 2009.
In Leftwich, the Steelers have a serviceable backup, who achieved a reasonable amount of success as a starting quarterback as Jacksonville's starting quarterback in the mid-2000s.
He isn't going to command the same amount of respect from opposing defenses that Roethlisberger does, but if he can simply be adequate, the Steelers will win enough games to squeak into the postseason as the sixth-seeded team in the NFC.
Outside of Leftwich, the Steelers have three effective running backs in Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Mendenhall, and all are capable of doing enough damage on the ground to compensate for the loss of Roethlisberger.
That doesn't mean the Steelers will be able to out-gun the Ravens' offense, but with a relatively easy schedule beyond the next three weeks, if they can win one of their two games against Baltimore, or at least take down the Bengals next weekend, they'll be 7-5 when Roethlisberger is set to return in three weeks.
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