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Mike Tomlin vague about why Ben Roethlisberger didn't return to game when medically cleared

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a rib injury after taking a big hit near the end of the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Josh Dobbs took his place behind center in the third quarter, but Roethlisberger returned with the Steelers trailing 17-14 late in the fourth quarter.

Roethlisberger cleared long before he returned to game

Head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that Roethlisberger could have returned earlier but didn’t give a clear explanation why he didn’t enter the game when he joined the sideline in the third quarter.

“He got looked at at halftime, he got treatment, he came back out,” Tomlin said. “We were waiting to see if he was going to able to come back in. He was. Probably could have come in a series or so sooner, but we were in the rhythm and flow of the game. He was ready to go when he got back out there.

“He was medically cleared when he got back out there. Obviously, he wasn’t back out there at the start of the third quarter.”

Steelers lose late

Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a go-ahead touchdown. But the Raiders responded for a late score of their own to take a 24-21 lead with 21 seconds remaining.

Roethlisberger gave the Steelers a chance on the ensuing possession, connecting with James Washington, who lateraled the ball to JuJu Smith-Schuster to set up a 40-yard field goal attempt. But Chris Boswell slipped on the game-tying attempt, allowing the Raiders to block the kick and secure the unlikely win.

Roethlisberger expects to start next week against the New England Patriots.

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Ben Roethlisberger returned from an injury scare against the Oakland Raiders. (Getty)
Ben Roethlisberger returned from an injury scare against the Oakland Raiders. (Getty)