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Ben Roethlisberger injury: Steelers QB could have been killed by rare rib injury

The Pittsburgh Steelers could be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for some time after tests revealed a freak injury.

Gregory Shamus

The Pittsburgh Steelers received some bad news on Wednesday about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Additional testing on his injured right shoulder revealed a more significant problem, a partially dislocated rib. The injury even threatened Roethlisberger's life with the rib being dangerously close to pressing his aorta, according to Ed Boucette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Roethlisberger suffered the injury in a Monday night win against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was initially called a shoulder injury. He was taken to the hospital immediately after suffering the injury during the game, a rare move that revealed the team's level of concern.

The Steelers have already ruled out Roethlisberger for Week 11, and reports Wednesday point toward an extended absence for the quarterback. SB Nation's medical contributor Dr. Ali Mohamadi offered some insight into the nature of the injury and the recovery process on Tuesday:

A moderate sprain may require placing the joint back into position and allowing it to heal with devices such as a sling/strap for 4-6 weeks. Worst case scenario, for a dislocation, is surgery, which is six-plus weeks for full recovery.

St. Louis Rams receiver Danny Amendola suffered a similar rare injury when he dislocated his clavicle in Week 5. He was able to return to action after four weeks on the shelf, but it is not clear how similar the two injuries are. Reports said the last documented case of an injury like Roethlisberger's was a rugby player in 1998.

There is currently no timetable for his return to action.

The injury could have implications on the playoff race in the AFC. Pittsburgh is clutching a Wild Card berth and riding a four-game winning streak into a Sunday night showdown with the Baltimore Ravens. An extended absence for Roethlisberger could open the door for a resurgent Cincinnati team to sneak into the wildcard race.

This story originally appeared at SB Nation.