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Roethlisberger injury clouds Steelers' Super plans

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were Super Bowl favorites entering the 2016 season.

Sunday night, those predictions were tossed aside.

Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dropped an atom bomb.

Ben Roethlisberger did leave Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins in the second quarter but walked off of the field under his own power. He returned in the second half and finished 19-34 with 189 yards passing. He threw a touchdown but was intercepted twice.

With Roethlisberger out, the Steelers turn to their backup quarterback in a pivotal game.

The drop off in production cannot be understated. Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl champion that has appeared in three Super Bowls. He's thrown for over 3,000 yards in all but two of his 12 seasons.

Landry Jones was drafted in 2013 but did not debut until 2015. In seven games, Jones has three touchdowns and four interceptions. The Steelers lost the only game that he started, a 23-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on October 25, 2016. 

The loss of Roethlisberger will have an effect on wide receiver Antonio Brown. The Roethlisberger-Brown connection primarily led to Brown posting a career-best 1,834 yards in 2015. 

However, in the four games that Roethlisberger missed last season, Brown only had 235 yards and did not catch any touchdowns. Jones and Michael Vick failed to make Brown a feature element of the offense, only targeting him 31 times in that stretch.

In the four games that Roethlisberger missed in 2015, the Steelers went 2-2. Since 2005, Pittsburgh is 10-9 without Roethlisberger in the lineup.

If there is a bright side, the small potential remains that Roethlisberger could only miss one game.  

According to the Cleveland Clinic, "there is a recovery time of up to two weeks to allow time for frequent physical therapy and appropriate treating of the knee to ensure a quick return to normal activity."

Roethlisberger would not be at full strength if he returned Nov. 6 and his mobility would be an issue, but he could play against the Baltimore Ravens if everything goes according to plan. 

(UPDATE 10/19: Steelers have ruled Roethlisberger out 4-6 weeks)

For now, the Steelers are stuck with Jones. They were not likely to beat the New England Patriots next weekend with or without Roethlisberger. 

Since Tom Brady's return, the 5-1 Patriots have scored at least 33 points in both games with Brady under center. Before Brady's return, New England only scored 30 points once. Brady has thrown six touchdowns through two games and appears to have shaken off any rust that he gained during his three-game suspension. 

If Pittsburgh falls to New England, the Steelers' record will drop to 4-3. They will fall into a first-place tie for the AFC North if the Ravens defeat the New York Jets.


 

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