Steelers look to win without Big Ben

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 5-4 and in the hunt for a wild card spot in the AFC playoffs. Yet, they will once again face a stiff test with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the shelf, this time with a foot injury.

Roethlisberger was hurt in the fourth quarter of Pittsburgh’s 38-35 win on Sunday at Heinz Field over the Oakland Raiders when Aldon Smith landed on him during a sack. Roethlisberger could not put any weight on his left ankle/foot and had to be carted off the field, with many believing the Steelers would be without his services for the rest of the campaign.

Of course, the Steelers have already been through this drill before. In Week 3, Roethlisberger was rolled up on during a game against the St. Louis Rams and had his left leg bend awkwardly. The result was a sprained MCL that kept Roethlisberger out for a month, while the team was kept afloat with backup quarterbacks Landry Jones and Michael Vick.

With Roethlisberger likely out this Sunday, it will once again be up to Jones to play well and save the weekend. Jones was great coming off the bench for Vick against the Arizona Cardinals a few weeks ago, completing 8-of-12 passes for 168 yards and a pair of touchdowns to earn his first career win. The following week, Jones could not replicate his success against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, tossing a pair of interceptions and throwing for just 209 yards in a 23-13 defeat.

At 5-4, the Steelers will host the Cleveland Browns this weekend. Cleveland is 2-7 but has been there until the end in almost every game this season, making it a tough out. The Browns are expected to start quarterback Josh McCown, who missed last Thursday night’s game with an injury. McCown has been prolific this season, despite having very few weapons around him.

The Steelers must find a way to beat Cleveland with Jones at the helm. The rest of the schedule won’t be doing them any favors, with trips against the Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens still upcoming. Meanwhile, they host the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. Should Pittsburgh be able to scratch out nine wins, it is in good shape to make the postseason. Getting to 10 would all but guarantee them a spot.

If Pittsburgh can make it happen, give plenty of credit to both head coach Mike Tomlin and the team. The Steelers have been without their All-Pro quarterback for half the season and lost Le’Veon Bell two weeks ago with a torn MCL and PCL. Many folks would have figured this team dead in the water after all of those hits, but the Steelers keep pressing forward.

Can they keep up the trend?

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