Starting running back Rashard Mendenhall was helped off the field early during the game after he twisted his knee during a run. Many people feared a serious knee injury was the result of that play, and it was confirmed by the team on Monday. Mendenhall suffered a tear to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee. Mendenhall is going to miss all the playoffs, and may even miss some of next season. The typical length of rehab for an injury of this magnitude is somewhere between 7 to 9 months.
Mendenhall has not been all that effective this season with the ball in his hand. He has rushed for 982 yards and 9 touchdowns, with 4.1 yards per attempt.
Despite his ineffectiveness, he is still Pittsburgh’s biggest threat in the backfield. With the NFL becoming a pass happy league more and more as each week goes on, it is imperative that Pittsburgh be able to control the clock in the postseason. Coach Tomlin will surely have to come up with a different game plan now that his starting back is out.
Ben Roethlisberger has proven that he is more than capable of putting the team on his back and leading them to victory. However, if they are lacking a rushing attack, defenses will be able to key in on the pass.
Only time will tell how Mendenhall’s absence with hurt the Steelers. They begin postseason play with a trip to the Mile High city to take on Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. The game is this Sunday at 4:30 p.m.