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Steelers can survive Ben Roethlisberger’s latest injury

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ high-powered offense was going to take us on a thrill ride this year

There have been a few unfortunate cart rides mixed in, but if nothing else the 2015 season has been an emotional roller coaster.

Ben Roethlisberger rode his second cart of the season in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field.

Usually the terminus of that transportation line is an early offseason. It was for Maurkice Pouncey, Kelvin Beachum and Le’Veon Bell.

Roethlisberger, though, appears to once again be showing how fitting it is that his “Big Ben” moniker is inspired by a timepiece.

Throughout his career, he’s taken a lickin’ and kept on tickin’.

Roethlisberger’s season survived Mark Barron’s dive at his knees at St. Louis in Week 3, and it looks like it will survive an Aldon Smith sack that crunched his left foot on Sunday.

The Steelers’ franchise quarterback has a mid-foot sprain, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It wasn’t clear how long he would be out, but he could miss as little as two weeks.

The news could have been worse, and it was just one more hairpin turn in Sunday’s wild emotional ride.

Antonio Brown tore up the Steelers record books, establishing new franchise highs with 17 receptions and 284 receiving yards. DeAngelo Williams ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

Brown totaled 306 yards from scrimmage and Williams had 225, marking the first time in NFL history that a team had one player with 300 or more yards from scrimmage and another with 200 or more in the same game, according to Pro Football Talk.

Williams’ performance, while not surprising, was particularly uplifting in the wake of Bell’s season-ending injury last week. It reinforced the notion that the Steelers can make the playoffs without Bell. Despite starting just three games this season, Williams is 15th in the NFL with 480 rushing yards.

In avoiding their first three-game losing streak since their 0-4 start in 2013, the Steelers forced four turnovers for the first time since a 27-11 win at Cleveland in Week 12 of that season. That’s always nice to see considering how elusive turnovers have been for this defense since 2011.

One of those takeaways came after Martavis Bryant maneuvered his way to a 14-yard touchdown reception on a screen to give the Steelers a 28-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. Roosevelt Nix forced Taiwan Jones to fumble on the ensuing kickoff and rookie Anthony Chickillo recovered at the Raiders’ 6-yard line.

Another member of the Steelers’ rookie class, tight end Jesse James, perhaps was rewarded for his dominant blocking on Bryant’s touchdown when Roethlisberger tossed a four-yard TD pass to him to increase the Steelers’ lead to 35-21 with 11:28 to go.

The Raiders were back in the game when Jamize Olawale scored on a 19-yard touchdown run less than two minutes later.

Still, it was a feel-good afternoon. Williams was shredding yet another defense. Brown once again looked like the best receiver in the league. Rookies were contributing and the Steelers’ defense was making game-changing plays.

Then Roethlisberger got hurt. Again. And again it looked bad.

Maybe it was time to chalk this up as an injury-cursed season, give up any hope for a deep playoff run and seek consolation in witnessing the continued development of Landry Jones.

Jones led the Steelers’ game-winning drive that resulted in Chris Boswell’s 18-yard field goal with two seconds left. In doing so, he seemed to finally establish some kind of working relationship with Brown. That will be important going forward.

But Roethlisberger will be back at some point, and this is no time in Steelers history to concede any season to any rash of injuries.

Roethlisberger is 33 and time is running out for him to deliver another Lombardi Trophy or two to Pittsburgh. Considering the beating he’s taken in his career, it’s hard to see him playing 16-game seasons at 38 the way Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have.

If the best-case scenario comes to fruition, Roethlisberger would miss just one game. The Steelers (5-4) host the Browns on Sunday then have their bye. Even without Roethlisberger and Bell, the Steelers don’t deserve to make the playoffs if they can’t beat the Browns at home.

The Steelers play at Seattle in Week 12. If Roethlisberger has to miss a third week, at least a non-conference loss won’t hurt the Steelers when it comes to tiebreakers. It’s conference wins the Steelers need to stock up on. They currently occupy the second wild-card spot in the AFC and own a crucial tiebreaker against the Raiders (4-4) but are still just 2-4 in the AFC.

That conference record will have to improve with Roethlisberger in street clothes. But the Steelers are getting used to that.

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets

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