The latest report that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could return for Pittsburgh's game at Baltimore provides hope for Steelers Nation. But Pittsburgh shouldn't rush back Roethlisberger from what sounds like a serious rib injury.
The availability of Roethlisberger will be a huge factor in whether the Steelers can overtake the Ravens for the AFC North title. The Steelers, though, can still make the postseason with Byron Leftwich at quarterback. Pittsburgh is 6-3 right now and can reach the targeted 10-win mark (which usually guarantees a playoff spot) with remaining games against Cleveland (twice), San Diego, Dallas and Cincinnati. The Steelers could sit Roethlisberger for the next five or six weeks and get him back for one of the final two regular-season games.
The Steelers should learn from last season, when they didn't rest Roethlisberger enough down the stretch. Pittsburgh only sat Roethlisberger for one game with ankle injury. It severely limited him in the playoff loss at Denver.
It's awfully tempting to start Roethlisberger for the rematch against the Ravens. But what would you rather have: a home playoff game as the result of the AFC North title or a healthier Roethlisberger in the playoffs? I would choose the latter.