The Steelers might be facing the winless Lions on Sunday, but the stakes got higher Saturday night.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out less than 24 hours before Pittsburgh’s 1 p.m. ET game against Detroit at Heinz Field.
Roethlisberger had rebounded from a slow start (four touchdowns, four interceptions in his first four games as the Steelers began 1-3). He led Pittsburgh (5-3) to a four-game winning streak with six passing touchdowns and no picks.
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For the season, he has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 1,986 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.
So why isn’t Roethlisberger playing against the 0-8 Lions? Here’s what you need to know about that, and when he might return.
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Why isn’t Ben Roethlisberger playing today?
The Steelers announced Saturday night that Roethlisberger would be placed on the COVID-19 reserve list and miss Sunday’s game.
STATUS UPDATE: #Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will be placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and is OUT for Sunday’s game vs. the Detroit Lions.
— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) November 14, 2021
Mason Rudolph is expected to start in place of Roethlisberger, with Dwayne Haskins slated to be the backup.
Rudolph hasn’t seen game action this season, but he has filled in as Pittsburgh’s starter before. In 2019, he started eight games in 10 appearances. He had 1,765 passing yards with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. In 2020, he started one game and appeared in four others, completing 58.1 percent of his passes for 324 yards with two touchdowns and a pick.
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Haskins started 13 games in 16 appearances with Washington over the past two seasons. During that span, he completed 60.1 percent of his passes with 2,804 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Washington released him after Week 16 in the 2020 season. The Steelers signed him less than a month later.
When will Ben Roethlisberger return?
NFL COVID protocols state that a vaccinated player can return to the field after two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. If they do not have the negative tests, they may still return after 10 days. Unvaccinated players must be isolated for 10 days and have to be asymptomatic before returning.
Fortunately for the Steelers, Roethlisberger told “The Dan Patrick Show” that he is vaccinated.
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This means Roethlisberger could return for the team’s “Sunday Night Football” matchup against the Chargers on Nov. 21.