PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger’s season is over. His career possibly, too.
The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback’s injured right elbow will require surgery, ending the 37-year-old’s 16th season just two weeks in. Roethlisberger shook his arm after a pair of passes with the Steelers driving late in the first half. He remained in the game through the end of the drive but watched the second half from the sideline in a white baseball cap as backup Mason Rudolph took over.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger underwent an MRI exam on Sunday night and team doctors determined Roethlisberger requires surgery. Roethlisberger will have the procedure later this week.
Roethlisberger, who led the NFL in passing last season, signed an extension in April that runs through the 2021. There was no immediate timetable on the two-time Super Bowl winner’s return.
Roethlisberger has been Pittsburgh’s starter since taking over for Tommy Maddox in Week 2 of the 2004 season as a rookie. His start on Sunday was the 218th appearance of his career, second most in the franchise’s 87-year history. He holds the club record in just about every major statistical passing category, including yards (56,545), touchdowns (363), attempts (7,230) and completions (4,651). He is 144-71-1 as a starter and is 13-8 in the playoffs, guiding the Steelers to victories in a pair of Super Bowls and an appearance in another.
His 6-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left in the 2008 Super Bowl against Arizona gave the Steelers their sixth title and is considered one of the seminal moment’s in the championship game’s history.
“Prayers up to my guy Ben on his upcoming surgery,” wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster tweeted shortly after Roethlisberger’s diagnosis was announced. “So sad to hear the news, but we’re gonna hold it down for you.”
Roethlisberger wasn’t particularly sharp in a season-opening loss to New England in Week 1 and was 8 of 15 for 75 yards on Sunday, though he did complete 5 of 6 passes on his final drive of the season, including at least two after he grimaced in obvious pain.
Pittsburgh (0-2) will now move on with Rudolph, taken in the third round of the 2018 draft. Rudolph went 12 of 19 for 112 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against Seattle in the first regular-season snaps of his career. The Steelers play at San Francisco (2-0) next Sunday.
“I am completely confident in myself, being a leader on the team and playing games,” Rudolph said on Sunday afternoon. “That’s what it all comes down to. If (Roethlisberger is out a while), I’m ready to roll.”