No NFL team wants to see the face of their franchise rolling around on the ground grabbing his knee.
When you are the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger has already led you to two Super Bowl titles, and remains your best hope for another, it’s an especially disconcerting feeling.
There was Roethlisberger in the second half of the Steelers’ 12-6 victory at St Louis on Sunday, riding off the cart with his left knee stretched in an awkward position. After the game, team officials said they were sure their quarterback had not broken his leg, and might have also escaped serious damage.
Later on Sunday, media reported that Roethlisberger has an MCL sprain and a bone bruise, per a source informed of the injury. The Steelers’ quarterback is expected to be out four to six weeks, but it seems Roethlisberger did not suffer any damage to his ACL – which would’ve theoretically ended his season.
“He is being evaluated,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said after the game. “I gave you all the information I have. I will give you some more when I get it.”
Nobody in Pittsburgh wanted to see the start of the Michael Vick era. The former Falcons and Eagles quarterback was decent on Sunday, completing five of six passes for 38 yards, but the Steelers need Roethlisberger to return if they expect to make a postseason run.
But it was a strange day all around in St Louis. Two hours before Roethlisberger went down, a pre-game fireworks display went haywire and embers fell on the turf, setting it ablaze. Stadium workers quickly doused the fire and had to vacuum the ashes and fire retardant before the game could begin.
Forget the scorched turf in St Louis, the Patriots once again seem to be on a scorched earth mission. They trampled the Jacksonville Jaguars 51-17. They are 3-0 in this year in which they were supposed to start the season without Tom Brady and have been dealing with constant allegations of cheating. So far they have outscored opponents 199-70, and Brady today threw his 400th touchdown pass against the beleaguered Jaguars. The last time they played with such anger, blasting every team they played was 2007 – the year they were caught videotaping Jets team signals in what became called “Spygate.” That season they went 16-0, scoring less than 27 points only twice.
The Cowboys are looking at about a month without their franchise quarterback Tony Romo. For a half on Sunday they looked just fine with Brandon Weeden as his replacement, especially with Joseph Randle tearing through the Falcons early on. But it doesn’t matter who is playing quarterback for Dallas if the Cowboys can’t stop their opponents. Atlanta receiver Julio Jones scored two second half touchdowns as the Falcons scored all 22 second half points in a 39-28 road win.
The feelgood story of the day was supposed to be the matchup of the McCown brothers, Luke and Josh. Luke was replacing the injured Drew Brees in New Orleans and Josh had regained his starting job in Cleveland.
But it was not a happy ending for either brother. Josh played well enough, throwing for 341 yards and two touchdowns, but he was outplayed by the Raiders’ second-year quarterback Derek Carr, who is quickly becoming a star. Carr threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns and, running back Latavius Murray ran for 139 and a touchdown in Oakland’s 27-20 victory. The surprising Raiders are now 2-1.
Luke McCown’s day wasn’t as productive as his brother’s. He had 310 passing yards and no touchdowns, but he still managed to push the Saints to within five points of beating Carolina for what would have been his first game-winning drive since 2007. It fell short and the Panthers won 27-22.
This spells trouble for New Orleans, who are 0-3 and in serious danger of seeing their season collapse. Given the salary cap troubles that forced them to jettison talented players before the year, the Saints’ record is understandable, but few teams have ever come from such a bleak start to make the playoffs.
This is the position in which Baltimore finds themselves after losing 28-24 to Cincinnati.
Less dire is the situation of the Indianapolis Colts, who played for the AFC Championship last year and were expected to be Super Bowl contenders again. Despite early struggles in their first two games and a defense that allowed Marcus Mariota to throw for 367 yards, Indianapolis managed to win their first game, 35-33 against the Titans, although quarterback Andrew Luck was not sharp in throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble.
The besieged Eagles also won their first game, beating the Jets 24-17.
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