With one 49-word statement, the Pittsburgh Steelers season was potentially turned upside down.
Ben Roethlisberger will undergo season-ending surgery on his right elbow, the team announced just before noon Monday. The 16-year, two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback suffered an injury during the first half of the Steelers’ 28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field on Sunday.
The entire statement from the Steelers, which was attributed to coach Mike Tomlin: “Ben Roethlisberger had an MRI on his right elbow Sunday evening and it was determined by the Steelers’ medical team that surgery will be required. We expect the surgery will be scheduled for this week. He will be placed on our Reserve/Injured List and is out for the season.”
— Roto Street Journal (@RotoStJournal) September 15, 2019
Mason Rudolph becomes the Steelers starting quarterback. The second-year former third-round pick performed admirably in his first regular-season action during the second half of Sunday’s game, completing 12 of 19 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns. His lone interception was the fault of receiver Donte Moncrief.
Undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges is on the practice squad; he’s the only other quarterback signed to the Steelers after last week’s trade of Josh Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Expect the Steelers to sign a veteran in the coming days.
Roethlisberger, 37, in April signed a three-year, $80 million contract that runs through the 2021 season. He had not missed a game because of injury since October 2016 and had never appeared in fewer than 12 games in any season since he was drafted as the No. 11 overall pick in 2004.
He holds virtually every Steelers career passing records and emerged from the weekend sixth in NFL history in passing yards (56,545), seventh in touchdowns (363) and seventh in completed passes (4,651). He’s also the only player to appear in 16 seasons for the Steelers.
Sunday was Roethlisberger’s 218th NFL game — all with the Steelers — passing Hines Ward for second-most in franchise history behind Hall of Fame center Mike Webster. With Roethliberger’s age and with no immediate word on the severity of the injury, it is now fair to consider if perhaps it was his last.