Ben Roethlisberger has been watching football long enough that he knew his crash landing into the turf at Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium was bad. As linebacker Vontaze Burfict collided with the scrambling quarterback in the waning moments of the third quarter, Roethlisberger fell backward onto his right shoulder.
"You see so many times quarterbacks or players in general land on that shoulder and something bad happens," he said in a conference call with Denver media on Wednesday. "I just remember trying to twist there a little bit at the end, and as soon as I hit the ground I felt something kind of crunch. It didn’t feel good, so I went right to the trainers and doctors and told them, 'Hey, this didn’t feel good. Let's head in and get it looked at.'"
"I’ve had a lot of them," Roethlisberger said. "This one is a little different because of where it is. Obviously as a thrower, on your right shoulder, I probably would rather have an injury anywhere else on my body other than my right shoulder."
Later, during local media availability, Roethlisberger mentioned that he had not tried to throw a football since Saturday's game.
Though expectations are that Roethlisberger will be available, he said that he'd leave the decision to play to head coach Mike Tomlin. He'd like to play through his injury, but if he's more of detriment than a benefit, that's a decision for Tomlin.
"I would just be honest with Coach," Roethlisberger said. "He’s obviously going to make the decisions, but I will be honest with him and tell him how I feel. If he doesn’t like what he sees out there then it’s his call."
Steelers prepare for healthier Broncos secondary with Brown on the mend
Sunday's divisional-round battle offers a tantalizing rematch between Denver and Pittsburgh after their memorable Week 15 duel, but the Broncos defense will look quite different from that last matchup with the hopeful return of starting safeties
"We didn’t face them at full strength. We know that. That’s why we got lucky last time," Roethlisberger said. "It was at our place and we made the plays. Like I said, they weren’t healthy. We’re expecting a fully healthy team at their place where it’s going to be loud and probably the biggest challenge of the year for us."
It'll be an even tougher challenge if Roethlisberger doesn't have all-world receiver Antonio Brown lining up on Sunday, too. Brown, who did not practice on Wednesday, is recovering from a concussion he suffered during the Steelers' final drive in their wild-card win over the Bengals.
"Lots of faith. That’s kind of been our M.O. all year," Roethlisberger said. "We’ve been a ‘next man up’ kind of team from pretty much every single position on the football field. Obviously, he’s a special football player. If he can’t go, that hurts, but we have a couple of days. Hopefully he can get ready. If not, we’re going to have to have someone else step up."
And if Bryant can make more special plays like the front-flip touchdown catch he made in Cincinnati, the Steelers will still be in capable hands.