|Roethlisberger "tweaked" his ankle on Sunday. (Getty Images)|
The Steelers took a gamble on Sunday against the Browns when they ran Ben Roethlisberger out to play on a high-ankle sprain, hoping the Ravens would lose and Pittsburgh would win the AFC North.
The Ravens did not lose. And in worse news, according to our Steelers Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder, Roethlisberger "tweaked" his ankle in the win over Cleveland and suffered a "setback" in advance of Pittsburgh's wild-card game in Denver on Sunday.
"I felt pretty good going in and moved around pretty good," Roethlisberger said. "[But] we got set back about a week. I don't know if I hit the ground wrong or got hit. We'll be all right."
Now, this is Ben Roethlisberger, so injuries don't mean as much as they would with any other player. I'm sorry, but the dude just plays hurt (and sometimes better when he's injured).
But this gets back to the point of risking him on the field: the Steelers, over the final three weeks, didn't play things conservatively enough at all. Putting him on the field against San Francisco was worth the risk, but not leaving him out there. Sitting him against the Rams was smart. And leaving him on the bench against the Browns would've been the wise move too, even if the Bengals had a shot at unseating the Ravens. Charlie Batch couldn't have gone 23 for 40 for 221 yards? He probably could have.
Whatever, his ankle's worse off now for playing. That means, without their top running back, the Steelers have to figure out how to protect Roethlisberger against a ferocious Broncos pass rush.
Denver recorded 41 sacks in 2011 (10th in the league; just nine behind the Vikings and Eagles) and the best example of what could happen against a good defense who can rush the passer is the loss to the 49ers.
In that game, Roethlisberger wasn't mobile, was constantly under attack and the Steelers struggled to move the ball. Granted, the 49ers are just a flat-out sick defense, but the Broncos are pretty good too.
For Pittsburgh to avoid a shocking upset at Mile High on Sunday, they'll need to make sure their gameplan doesn't involve Von Miller putting Ben on his back. Or worse, on his ankle.
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