Steelers Notebook: Roethlisberger returns after scary 1st-half injury
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The Steelers received a scare late in the second quarter Thursday night when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked and limped off the field with an ankle injury.
Roethlisberger went to the locker room and did not reappear in the first half. He did, however, start the second half, albeit with a noticeable limp.
Roethlisberger was sacked by Scott Paxson , a former Steeler, with 5:59 to go before halftime. His left ankle turned as he was being brought to the ground.
"I thought my leg was broken," he said. "My ankle felt like it was going to explode."
Charlie Batch , who had not attempted a pass all season, came in to play quarterback. Batch was 0 for 2 as a passer and was sacked once in two drives before the first half ended.
Roethlisberger said when he came out in the second half his intent was to see how his ankle felt for two or three plays before making a decision about playing the rest of the game.
"I wanted to be out there for my guys," he said.
Roethlisberger was not the only Steeler injured.
Starting defensive lineman Ziggy Hood had a groin injury in the second quarter and did not return. Rookie Cameron Heyward and Steve McClendon took his place. Hood does not believe his injury is serious.
"I've had them before," he said. "This one isn't as bad as I've had before. I should be back soon."
Late in the second quarter, starting center Maurkice Pouncey injured an ankle and had to leave the game. Doug Legursky moved from left guard to center and Chris Kemoeatu came in to play left guard.
Pouncey did not speak to reporters after the game, but his foot was in a walking boot when he left the locker room.
James Harrison , no stranger to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell , might be hearing from his nemesis next week for his late hit on Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy .
In the fourth quarter, McCoy scrambled out of the pocket before throwing a pass to Montario Hardesty . Harrison followed through with a hit on McCoy and caught him with a helmet-to-helmet hit that drew a 15-yard penalty. Harrison was fined for a total of $125,000 last season, a figure that was later reduced to $100,000.
Harrison does not believe the hit warranted a penalty or fine.
"He was out of the pocket," Harrison said. "And when he's out of the pocket, he's considered a runner. And I didn't think the hit was late. Once he tucks the ball, he's considered a runner. Once he leaves the pocket, he's considered a runner."
The Steelers failed to score on four tries from inside the 2 in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger said his injury played a role in the play-calling. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians asked if he could roll out, and Roethlisberger told him no.
Offensive tackle Max Starks said the Browns simply did a better job executing their goal-line defense.
"They did a good job of filling in the gaps," he said. "I give them credit."
Kemoeatu, replaced as the starting left guard last month, did not play well after coming into the game. He was called for three penalties -- two holding calls and a hands-to-the-face violation. The second holding call was a killer. It negated a first down. On the next play, Roethlisberger threw an interception.
The Browns drove the ball to the Steelers 5 on the ensuing drive before cornerback William Gay intercepted a McCoy pass in the end zone.
Browns cornerback Joe Haden was having a good night until the 3:11 mark of the fourth quarter. It was then that Haden slipped while trying to cover Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown on a fade route. Haden slipped, Brown caught the ball and, about 70 yards later, he scored the clinching touchdown in a 14-3 victory. "When I tried to plant to come back to the ball, I slipped, Haden said."
The Steelers were flagged a season-high 12 times, including two personal fouls, including Harrison's hit on McCoy..
Asked if Harrison's hit were dirty, Browns coach Pat Shurmur would not give an opinion "He was penalized, right? [The officials] felt it was, so he was penalized."
James Farrior also was called for a late hit out of bounds on McCoy in the third quarter.
"I've got a lot of respect for Farrior, but that was unnecessary," Browns tight end Evan Moore said. "It was unnecessary, and I told him that."
First Published December 9, 2011 12:00 am