PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Ben Roethlisberger is notorious for playing through pain, but during a wet, sloppy Monday night contest at Heinz Field that ended in a 16-13 overtime win for the hosts, backup quarterback Byron Leftwich knew there was no joking about the severity of Ben’s right shoulder sprain.

“I always tell him, ‘Let me know when you’re really hurt.’ When he got to the sideline, he nodded at me,” Leftwich said afterward. “That’s how I knew I was going into the football game, and that’s the only communication we had.”

Roethlisberger, who left early in the third quarter after going 9-of-18 for 84 yards and one touchdown, was taken to a nearby hospital for further evaluation, while Leftwich managed to connect on seven of 14 attempts for 63 yards.

“After about four or five plays, it got to be like riding a bike,” he offered. “I took a few hits, and I haven’t hit the ground in a while…but there are a few things I haven’t done that I got out of the way today, so that was good.”

Now comes the distinct possibility Leftwich will be pressed to lead the Steelers through their most difficult stretch of the season, which includes two games in three weeks against AFC North front-runner Baltimore.

“I haven’t been in a huddle with those guys since training camp, so it was good to get some work in. I don’t know where Ben will be health-wise on Wednesday, so I’ll be ready to practice…and, hopefully, I can get some work done with the guys,” Leftwich said.

He spoke further with 93.7 The Fan about Monday’s game, and the possibility of long-term relief duty:

The Steelers (6-3) and Ravens (7-2) meet in prime time this approaching Sunday.

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