An MRI taken Friday confirmed that Ben Roethlisberger sustained a high-ankle sprain in the Steelers' 14-3 win over the Browns.
The Steelers' quarterback is in a walking boot -- and in a considerable amount of pain -- after getting his left foot folded under his leg Thursday night.
Roethlisberger played the entire second half after suffering a ghastly looking injury, and that was telling to Dr. James Gladstone.
"It either means it's not that severe a sprain, or he's just a remarkably tough guy," said Gladstone, the co-chief of sports medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
The latter is not in question, not after Roethlisberger completed 8 of 12 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown in the second half and then was barely able to walk after the game.
Roethlisberger received one of the biggest scares of his career after getting sacked by Browns defensive tackle Scott Paxson. The resulting injury raises serious questions about whether the two-time Super Bowl winner will be able to play Dec. 19 when the Steelers visit the San Francisco 49ers.
Low-ankle sprains are more manageable than high-ankle sprains, Gladstone said, because the injured ankle can be taped and generally prevented from rolling. High-ankle sprains, Gladstone, are actually more like lower leg injures.
Center Maurkice Pouncey didn't play in the Super Bowl last season after sustaining a high-ankle sprain two weeks earlier in the AFC Championship Game.
Like Roethlisberger, Pouncey suffered a high-ankle sprain last Thursday night, putting his availability for the Steelers' next game in question.
The Steelers get extra time to rest; they have 11 days off before their next game. High-ankle sprains, however, can take months to fully heal, Gladstone said.
Roethlisberger surprised his teammates -- and even himself to a degree -- by making it through the entire second half against the Browns.
"I really couldn't drop back to pass and really couldn't step into my throws," said Roethlisberger, who nevertheless finished with his highest passer rating (129.6) of the season. "The plan on my part was basically to give it one or two more plays and see how I could do it. It wasn't for any other reason than to be out there for my guys."
There were plenty of testimonials to Roethlisberger's toughness in the Steelers locker room after the team had held off the Browns.
"I told him I'm happy to be his teammate," said wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger before the latter got hurt. "He's a warrior in every sense. He's going to go out there and lay it on the line for his teammates."