Steelers Notebook: Roethlisberger says he's OK after hit
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walks off the field with Dr. James Bradley (right) and Dr. Tony Yates yesterday.
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who left yesterday's game in overtime after taking a blow to the head, appeared to be lucid in the Steelers' locker room after their 27-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
"Needless to say, it was a concussion-oriented thing, so I doubt he was going to come back into the football game," coach Mike Tomlin said.
However, Roethlisberger said in the locker room that while he did not know if he received a concussion or not, he felt OK.
Roethlisberger left the game with 12:21 remaining in overtime after he scrambled and was sacked near midfield. Linebacker Derrick Johnson's knee hit Roethlisberger in the head as the quarterback hit the ground.
Charlie Batch entered the game at that point, the first time the veteran backup has taken a snap since the 2007 season.
Starting left guard Chris Kemoeatu also left the game with a sprained MCL in his right knee. A similar injury kept safety Troy Polamalu out for four games but offensive linemen normally can return more quickly because of the nature of the position.
Todd Haley could not have asked for a better moment as Kansas City's rookie head coach. An Upper St. Clair High School graduate and former Steelers ballboy, Haley's Chiefs opened the season with five consecutive losses.
But with his dad, former Steelers player personnel director Dick Haley, wearing a Chiefs jacket in attendance, young Haley's team won its second consecutive game and third in the past five.
"They're the model for what we're striving to get to and that's something that's been going on for a long time, since I've been a young kid in Pittsburgh," Haley said.
Haley was the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals last season and talked last week about how difficult it was to see the Steelers mount that final drive to beat them in Super Bowl XLIII.
He got some payback yesterday, and he also nearly saw an identical play to the one that helped beat his Cardinals in the Super Bowl when James Harrison returned an interception 100 yards in that game for a touchdown. Yesterday, linebacker Andy Studebaker intercepted Roethlisberger 2 yards deep in the end zone and returned it 94 yards to the Steelers' 8, where Rashard Mendenhall tackled him .
"I wish Studebaker would have scored on the interception," Haley said. "That would have been full retribution. I was thinking I'd finally be able to put that interception return away."
Steelers -- S Troy Polamalu and DE Travis Kirschke because of injuries, FB Carey Davis, G Kraig Urbik, OT Tony Hills, DE Sunny Harris, WR Shaun McDonald and No. 3 QB Dennis Dixon.
Chiefs -- LB Mike Vrabel and G Andy Alleman, both starters; CB Donald Washington, RB Dantrell Savage, LB David Herron, LB Justin Rogers and TE Jake O'Connell.
When Hines Ward caught Roethlisberger's 8-yard touchdown pass for a 10-7 lead late in the first half, it ended a stretch of nearly 86 minutes (85:50) in which the Steelers' offense did not score a touchdown. It hadn't gotten six since Ward scored in the final minutes at Denver Nov. 9.
"I thought we drove the ball pretty well," Ward said, "but we dropped some balls, got stripped, had penalties, you can't do that."
Yesterday's eight Steelers penalties were a season-high. They hadn't had more than six in any game this year.
The Steelers allowed three sacks, meaning they've allowed Roethlisberger to be put on the ground at least three times in seven consecutive games.
Kansas City linebacker Studebaker yesterday became the first player from Wheaton College to start an NFL game, and it was a pretty impressive start. He intercepted two passes.
With yesterday's 97-yard touchdown run on the opening kickoff by Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, the Steelers have been burned by touchdowns on returns in eight consecutive games, four on kickoff returns in the past five games. Two of the others came on interception returns and the other on a fumble.
Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor has a long history of playing great coverage and putting himself in position to make an interception only to drop the ball. It happened at the worst possible time yesterday -- in overtime -- when he couldn't hang on to a Matt Cassel pass at the Steelers' 23. On the next play, Cassel threw a 61-yard pass to wide receiver Chris Chambers to set up the winning field goal.
"If I make that play, it might have been a different game," Taylor said. "That's what I'm sitting here telling myself. Doesn't matter if you have great coverage. It's all about finishing."
First Published November 23, 2009 12:00 am