Despite suffering a separated shoulder in the win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will start in Sunday's AFC Divisional Round matchup against the Denver Broncos.
Steelers.com did not include Roethlisberger on the list of inactive players, which did include Michael Vick.
Against Cincinnati, Roethlisberger went down late in the third quarter on a Vontaze Burfict sack. The 33-year-old was replaced by Landry Jones for nearly the entire fourth quarter before returning for Pittsburgh's game-winning drive. He completed five of his seven passes on the drive, including a 12-yard completion to wide receiver Antonio Brown on a 4th-and-3 situation.
It's been an injury-riddled campaign for Big Ben, who missed four games with a knee injury and did not start a Nov. 15 win against the Cleveland Browns because of a foot problem. Jones started that game before suffering an injury himself, which prompted a hobbled Roethlisberger to enter and set an NFL record for passing yards in a game by a backup.
If people questioned Roethlisberger's toughness before the 2015 campaign, they absolutely cannot now. He's taken a beating and managed to still perform at a high level, though his interception rate was among the highest of his career.
No matter the level of Roethlisberger's health, he's the preferable option to Jones, who hasn't been impressive when he's received extended work. The Oklahoma product threw for 513 yards and three touchdowns against four picks during the regular season and tossed an interception on one of his five attempts against Cincinnati.
The Steelers are facing a Denver team that's built one of the best defenses in football. No team allowed fewer passing yards in 2015, and the Broncos sacked opposing quarterbacks an NFL-high 52 times.
Expect a ton of short throws in the interim, as the Steelers will want to limit Roethlisberger's exposure. It's also worth wondering how much strength he has in his arm; the signal-caller admitted to reporters he was not able to make downfield throws late against Cincinnati.
In any case, we'll get to see Sunday how much a week has allowed Roethlisberger to progress.