Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is hoping the MRI he is scheduled to take Friday will confirm that he sustained a high-ankle sprain in the Steelers’ 14-3 win over the Browns.
Roethlisberger stayed down in the second quarter after getting hit low by Browns defensive tackle Scott Paxson. He played the entire second half after an X-ray showed no breaks and the Steelers green-lighted his return to the field.
That clearance came after Roethlisberger received one of the biggest scares of his career.
“I thought my leg was broken, honestly,” Roethlisberger said. “One of the most painful things I’ve ever felt. I didn’t want to feel that my foot was outside of my leg.
“The plan on my part was basically to give it one or two more plays and see how I could do it. It wasn’t for any other reason than to be out there for my guys.”
Said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, “The doctors said he was OK to go. He wanted to go. We know what a competitor he is. We know his pain tolerance. We know what he’s capable of.”
Roethlisberger has the benefit of an extended break -– the Steelers don’t play again until a week from Monday in San Francisco -– to get healthy. He said the MRI will help determine the severity of his latest injury and the course of action he needs to take to play against the 49ers on Dec. 19.
Roethlisberger completed 16 of 21 passes for 280 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 79-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter preserved the Steelers’ 10th win of the season.
Afterward, Roethlisberger limped heavily as he made his way to the shower, stopping to allow Steelers trainer John Norwig to wrap his left ankle in ice.
“People want to hate on him all they want but the guy’s one of the toughest competitors in this game,” Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said.
Keisel said he was “surprised” that Roethlisberger returned at all after going straight from the field to the Steelers’ locker room with six minutes left in the second quarter.
“We came in here and didn’t see during halftime and I think everybody was kind of ready to go out without him and we get out there and he’s taking snaps from (center Doug) Legursky,” Keisel said.
Roethlisberger said the first high ankle injury he has sustained limited his mobility in the second half, and he lauded the job the Steelers offensive line did in protecting him.
“I really couldn’t drop back to pass and really couldn’t step into my throws,” said Roethlisberger, who finished with his highest passer rating of the season at 129.6. “They did such a phenomenal job of kind of keeping me clean. That was my intention of coming back. I wanted to be there for the guys and let them know I’m going to fight for them.”
Asked about his long touchdown pass to Brown, Roethlisberger chuckled.
“I’m glad he scored because I wouldn’t have made it down there if we had to run another play,” he said.
— Scott Brown