Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger taken off the field on a cart.
PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sustained a concussion while being driven into the ground by two Cleveland Browns defenders late in the second quarter of an essentially meaningless game Sunday.
As Roethlisberger delivered a 4-yard pass to tight end Heath Miller over the middle, he was leveled by Willie McGinest at about shoulder level and D’Qwell Jackson at the quarterback’s knees. Roethlisberger’s head struck the ground hard as McGinest, possibly playing his final NFL game, drove him backward.
Roethlisberger was seen moving his arms and legs and talking before being placed onto a stretcher and then onto a cart that took him off the field. His helmet was taken apart while he was on the field, a precautionary move so his neck could be stabilized.
As he was being driven off the field, Roethlisberger lifted his left arm and raised his thumb to the fans. The gesture drew a loud cheer from a crowd that stayed silent during the nearly 15 minutes Roethlisberger stayed on the turf.
Roethlisberger was hurt with 1:48 remaining in the second quarter of a game in which he was expected to play only the first half. He was taken to a nearby hospital in an ambulance for precautionary tests.
The Steelers, already locked into the No. 2 spot in the AFC’s playoffs, could not improve their playoff position by beating the Browns. But coach Mike Tomlin wanted Roethlisberger and the other starters to play most or part of the game because they won’t play again until Jan. 10 or 11.
Because the Steelers’ 31-14 loss at Tennessee on Dec. 21 made certain they couldn’t claim home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, Tomlin didn’t want his regulars going three weeks without taking part in a game — even one that meant little to their season..
Before getting hurt, Roethlisberger was 9-of-14 for 110 yards and an interception that came after Pittsburgh had driven to a first down at the Browns 20 late in the first quarter.
Heinz Field has a grass surface, which generally is more forgiving than artificial turf when a player is driven into the ground.