As Head Coach Mike Tomlin informed us yesterday, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to avoid any major injury during the team’s victory Sunday over the Baltimore Ravens, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some scares. Three of their most important players on the 53-man roster at one point or another suffered an injury, but all were able to return.
The first injury in the game was for wide receiver Antonio Brown, who on a play in the end zone in the first half had his hand stepped on. The incident occurred at the end of the first quarter on James Conner’s seven-yard receiving touchdown.
The wide receiver had his hand looked at on the sideline after the play and spent time looking it over between offensive drives (he was shown on the bench rinsing the injured hand off with a water bottle), but he did not miss any snaps.
Early in the second half, on the second play of the third quarter, Ben Roethlisberger used play action to push the ball down the field to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who came up with a big catch for 23 yards. Ravens safety Eric Weddle hit him with helmet-to-helmet contact on the tackle.
The safety was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct—but Jesse James was also flagged for holding, a minor routine tug that he was caught doing—which resulted in the play being negated. Not for Smith-Schuster’s head though. He had to leave the game and undergo the concussion protocol, though he would only miss four plays. Those were the only four snaps in the entire game he didn’t play.
Then of course there was the injury to Roethlisberger, or as it was described after the game, the time he he got the wind knocked out of him. The Steelers were backed up to their own 10-yard line following a penalty on second and 15 when he scrambled for 12 yards.
As he ran, Matt Judon chased him down and brought him down from behind, in doing so driving the big quarterback to the ground, head and shoulder first. Roethlisberger stayed down for a couple of minutes and was forced to sit out a play.
Like Smith-Schuster’s, Roethlisberger’s gain on the play was once again negated by a holding penalty, this time on Alejandro Villanueva, adding insult to injury. Of course, Joshua Dobbs would come in for one play and complete a 22-yard pass to Smith-Schuster on second and 22 from the five-yard line.
It’s hard to imagine the offense functioning without any of these three players. Roethlisberger is a given, but they only have two starter-quality wide receivers on the roster right now, surrounded by depth such as Ryan Switzer and rookie James Washington. They were fortunately on that day to see each return to the game, especially with a short turnaround, facing the Carolina Panthers in two days.