PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger doesn't understand why the Denver Broncos thought he was pretending to have a shoulder injury, saying on his weekly appearance with 93.7 The Fan Pittsburgh that he took a painkilling shot to get through Sunday's game, the first time in his career he has done so.
The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback said he wouldn't have finished the game without it.
"Unbelievable, right? Makes no sense, but it is what it is," Roethlisberger said of the skepticism.
On Sunday, the Broncos said they weren't buying that Roethlisberger had an injured shoulder during their 23-16 AFC divisional playoff win, with linebacker Von Miller saying after the game, "I read through the bluff."
Roethlisberger said during the week of Broncos preparation that he had suffered a sprained AC joint and torn ligaments in his right throwing shoulder. Roethlisberger barely practiced during the week but threw for 339 yards in Denver, prompting Miller to say, "no, he didn't [look hurt]."
Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, a former teammate of Roethlisberger's in Pittsburgh who slighted the quarterback's leadership upon his arrival in Denver two seasons ago, said on a Broncos network pregame broadcast that he didn't think "at all" Roethlisberger had torn ligaments.
But Roethlisberger called the injury "painful" through the week and on game day, with team doctors monitoring the injury between each offensive series.
"From what I've been told, it won't need surgery," Roethlisberger said. "The ligaments will scar up and heal on their own. The only thing he could foresee ... down the road some time going in and kind of cleaning out the arthritis and where the scarring is. I don't foresee any surgeries on the shoulder anytime soon."
Roethlisberger was riddled with injuries in 2015. He missed four games with a sprained MCL and bone bruise. He nearly missed the Week 10 matchup with while dealing with a mid-foot sprain. He entered concussion protocol after a late-November hit in Seattle. The shoulder injury occurred in the AFC wild-card game, courtesy of Vontaze Burfict on a sack, prompting Roethlisberger to miss three offensive series in the 18-16 win.
Roethlisberger said the offensive line protection was better than it's been in a while, but the injuries were of the "freak accident" nature. Roethlisberger finished the regular season with 3,938 yards in 12 games (328.2 per game), 21 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 68.0 completion percentage.
"I feel like I'm playing my best football," Roethlisberger said. "That's a big credit to the guys around me. ... For me, I want to keep my arm strong. I felt like it's been, last year and this year, the strongest it's been."