PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger is walking around with a large bandage on his broken nose and a protective boot on his painfully injured right foot.
And, at least for a moment, a smile brought on by another well-known Pittsburgh sports figure.
“Mario Lemieux told me I finally look like a hockey player,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday, referring to the Penguins’ co-owner.
The Steelers quarterback will wear a protective shield to protect a nose that so splintered while being smacked by the Ravens’ Haloti Ngata, x-rays revealed nose bones that “looked like corn flakes,” Roethlisberger said.
“I was like, ‘Oh, that’s good,’ ” he said.
Regardless, Roethlisberger practiced Wednesday as usual, and he plans to play in Sunday’s AFC North game against Cincinnati (2-10). Despite having his nose bent awkwardly during Pittsburgh’s initial series, he didn’t miss a play as the Steelers (9-3) beat the Ravens 13-9 on Sunday to take sole possession of the division lead with four games remaining.
The quarterback has been told him he can do no further damage to his nose by playing. His nose also was broken and needed surgical reconstruction following his 2006 motorcycle accident. But this injury wasn’t complicated by that rebuilding.
“They said everything looked really good,” Roethlisberger said. “I did a CT scan before the surgery (Monday) and they said everything was still holding up really well and they were really pleased with that. .. The plates and everything in my face were fine, so that’s good.”
Playing with a shield for the first time will take some adjustment, just as it does hockey players who choose to wear one after playing without it.
“We’re going to get some practice, so we’ll see,” he said. “I saw the early forecast is rain, snow, so it’ll be fun, I’m sure.”
Ngata wasn’t penalized for raking his hand across Roethlisberger’s face, but was fined $15,000 a day later for striking a defenseless player in the head. Roethlisberger had no comment about the fine, but teammate Hines Ward said he was glad someone other than Steelers linebacker James Harrison got fined for hitting a quarterback.
Roethlisberger said he asked referee Terry McAuley why there was no penalty and was told, “He was just trying to tackle you.”
Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain also was fined $40,000 for a helmet hit that caused Steelers tight end Heath Miller’s concussion. That hit also wasn’t penalized.
“But once again the referees didn’t throw any flags, so there’s still some discrepancies going on,” Ward said. “It’s finally good to see that we’re not the only team getting fines. I’m not happy the way it happened, with no penalties, but it’s good to see somebody else have to deal with it. Especially for the hit on Heath.”
While Steelers coach Mike Tomlin lists Miller as doubtful, the tight end isn’t giving up hope he might play on Sunday.
“I’ve never had a concussion before,” Miller said. “But it’s getting better every day, so that’s a good thing. I only remember what I’ve seen on TV. … It’s still a little hazy but, like I said, I’m feeling a little better every day.”
Miller must pass neurological tests that are given daily to player with a concussion before he is cleared to play.
Steelers right tackle Flozell Adams (high ankle sprain) also hasn’t ruled out playing on an offensive line that is so beaten up, the Steelers were missing three tackles and two tight ends in Baltimore.
“It’s one of those things that’s rare that we have a lot of players, not just a few, but a lot of guys who can step in and play,” Adams said.