Maybe this isn’t Ben Roethlisberger’s season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback was back in the shotgun for the first time since suffering an MCL injury in Week 3, but he didn’t last a whole game. In the fourth quarter against the Raiders Sunday, Roethlisberger left the game after being sacked. Initially, the Steelers feared a broken bone, but Big Ben merely has a “mid-foot sprain,” according to ESPN. While the injury certainly doesn’t bode well for the Steelers, it should only keep Roethlisberger on the sideline for a few weeks.
Roethlisberger’s injury was the most noteworthy thing to happen to an ASN-affiliated player during Week 8, but it certainly wasn’t the only thing. Key running backs and receivers scored game-changing touchdowns, two players who touched the ball just once scored, cornerback Antwon Blake forced his first fumble of the season and Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick put in a stellar performance while playing injured.
All the while, Tony Romo (broken clavicle) of the Dallas Cowboys and Josh McCown (bruised ribs) of the Cleveland Browns could only sit and watch while recovering from injuries.
This week’s ASN Top 10 most noteworthy happenings in the NFL:
Though Roethlisberger left Sunday’s game against Oakland on a cart with an injury for the second time this season, he also avoided a major injury for the second time this season. After guiding the Steelers to a 35-21 lead in the middle of the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger (Miami Ohio) suffered a more minor injury (mild sprain) after being sacked by Aldon Smith. The game was Roethlisberger’s first since straining his MCL in Week 3. On Sunday, he completed 22 of 44 passes for 334 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
No one was stopping Edelman (Kent State) on the Patriots’ first drive Sunday. The veteran wide receiver pulled in a pass from Tom Brady, juked and then dove over the goal line dragging a Washington Redskins defender with him. The touchdown came one play after Edelman took a huge hit and gave the Patriots a 6-0 lead that they would never relinquish. The score was Edelman’s seventh of the season. He caught five passes for 55 yards and is currently ranked No. 17 among receivers in the NFL.
Blake, a cornerback out of UTEP, forced a fumble and led the Steelers in tackles with nine (eight solo, one assist) in Pittsburgh’s 38-35 victory against Oakland. The forced fumble was Blake’s first of the season and his 48 tackles through eight games are the most he’s ever had in a season.
The wide receiver out of Cornell scored the first touchdown of his career and the Jaguars’ only touchdown of the game on a 20-yard pass from Blake Bortles with 2:21 to play. Walters caught five passes for 55 yards. The touchdown reception was his longest reception in Jacksonville’s loss. Walters originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Chargers. He played on San Diego’s practice squad for two seasons and bounced around the league before signing with the Jags in March.
One reception for eight yards and one touchdown. That was Bradshaw’s statistical line in the Colts 27-24 victory against the Denver Broncos. And though Bradshaw’s numbers paled in comparison to leading receiver T.Y. Hilton (FIU, five catches, 82 yards), his one catch was a difference maker — Bradshaw (Marshall) caught an Andrew Luck pass in the flat and scored in the fourth quarter to open a 24-17 lead. The score was Bradshaw’s second of the season.
Another player who made the most of opportunity this weekend? How about Olawale (North Texas), who had one run against the Steelers and he used that one chance to score not just his first touchdown of the year but the first of his three-year career. Olawale, a fullback, took the handoff and raced 19 yards into the end zone in the middle of the fourth quarter. The score wasn’t enough as the Steelers beat the Raiders, 38-35, on a field goal with 4 seconds to play.
Playing with torn ligaments in his left thumb, Fitzpatrick guided the Jets to a 28-23 victory against Jacksonville. Fitzpatrick (Harvard) completed 21 of 34 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzpatrick tossed a 7-yard score to Eric Decker in the first quarter and a had a 20-yard completion to Brandon Marshall in the fourth quarter that won the game. Fitzpatrick is tied with four other players at No. 12 in the league for touchdowns with 13.
The veteran running back scored his second touchdown of the season on Sunday when he caught a 29-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers in the middle of the fourth quarter to cut the Panthers’ lead to 37-22. Carolina won the game, 37-29. Starks (Buffalo) carried the ball 10 times for 39 yards and caught six passes for 83 yards, a season-best for total yards (122). His previous best was 119-yard performance, highlighted by a 65-yard touchdown run against San Diego on Oct. 18.
The Louisiana Tech grad was key to the 49ers passing game with three receptions for 70 yards — a personal best this season. Patton, a third-year wide receiver, averaged 23.3 yards per catch, second only to Week 4, when he caught two passes for an average of 26.5 yards per reception. The 49ers slipped past Atlanta, 17-16.
The punter out of Toledo was busy in the Titans’ 34-28 victory against New Orleans, punting five times for a 46.4-yard average. He put two punts inside the 20 and had a long of 56 yards as Tennessee beat the Saints, 34-28. Kern is ranked fourth in the league for total punting yards with 1,982.
Louisiana Tech grad Tramon Williams was credited with seven tackles in the Browns’ Thursday Night Football loss to Cincinnati. … Corey Graham (New Hampshire) was the Bills’ second-leading tackler with eight solo tackles in Buffalo’s 33-17 defeat of Miami. … Andrew Sendejo (Rice) was credited with seven tackles and .5 sacks in the Vikings’ 21-18 victory against St. Louis. … Jaguars cornerback Jonathan Cyprien (FIU) had a combined 13 tackles, his second-most in a game this season, in Jacksonville’s 28-23 loss to the Jets. … Cowboys strong safety Barry Church (Toledo) was credited with a team-leading eight tackles (four solos, four assists) in Dallas’ loss to Philadelphia. … Titans running back Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky) led Tennessee with 19 receptions for 88 yards, including a long run of 38 yards in 34-28 overtime win against the New Orleans Saints.
Above: Ben Roethlisberger suffered a mid-foot sprain after being sacked by Aldon Smith in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)