As if it wasn’t impressive enough that Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger led his team to a game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLIII, it was discovered that he did so with broken ribs.
Roethlisberger told Sports Illustrated that he found out the injury was more severe than initially thought after undergoing tests before the Super Bowl:
- Roethlisberger was speared in the kidney area in the AFC Championship Game. His midsection hurt so much that he had X-rays before the Super Bowl. They were negative. But a subsequent MRI told a different story. He found out last Thursday.
- “Fractured ribs,” Roethlisberger said. “Luckily, in the game, I didn’t take any big hits to make ‘em hurt. But I knew all along there was something wrong. There wouldn’t have been anything they could have done about fractured ribs anyway. It was just suck it up and play.”
Roethlisberger led the Steelers on an eight-play, 78-yard drive and hit Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone on the go-ahead touchdown pass with 35 seconds remaining in the 27-23 Super Bowl victory over the Cardinals. Roethlisberger finished the game 21-of-30 passing for 256 yards and one touchdown with one interception.
But if Roethlisberger had injured his ribs in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, why wasn’t he on the injury report? The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revisited comments from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made before the Super Bowl:
- Roethlisberger was not listed on the Steelers injury report at all before the Super Bowl, and did not miss a practice. Coach Mike Tomlin denied a report in the days leading to the Super Bowl that Roethlisberger had X-rays taken on his back/ribs.
- “Not that I heard,” Tomlin said. “Ben’s health is often the subject of inaccurate reports. He’s fine.”
The Post-Gazette received this e-mail response from NFL spokesman Greg Aiello when asked if Roethlisberger’s rib injury should have been listed on the Steelers’ injury report leading up to the Super Bowl:
- “Ben’s injury was disclosed in the required injury report the week prior to the team going to Tampa for the Super Bowl. He was listed throughout that week with a back injury. The reports that week said he did not practice on Wednesday and fully practiced on Thursday and Friday. He was then listed on Friday as probable for the Super Bowl with a back injury. The Steelers then fully cleared him to practice and play and he was not listed on the SB week injury report. We also have a pool reporter procedure for Super Bowl week. A [Pro Football Writers Association] appointed reporter attends every practice session of each team to report on the physical condition of the players. AFC pool reporter Peter King reported throughout the week that Ben fully practiced and ‘looked sharp.’ There was no doubt as to Ben’s availability. Then, of course, he played the entire game.”