Steelers coach Mike Tomlin revealed little about Troy Polamalu's injury, saying only that he was off at the hospital for an MRI. It's encouraging that the players acted as if the injury wasn't season-ending; ordinarily, they aren't deceitful enough to hide the truth. Then again, the players might not have known how significant Polamalu's problem is. No one was quite sure when he was hurt, although it is believed it happened when he tackled running back Cedric Benson for a 3-yard loss during the Bengals' first possession.
"Normally, he sits right next to me on the bench," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "He was there when we came off the field and then he was gone. It was like he's a ghost."
If Polamalu has to miss at least a few games, which seems likely, it will be a tough blow for him. He was just starting to get back to his otherworldly self after missing four games because of an injury to the same knee in the opener against the Tennessee Titans. He had interceptions in two of the previous three games and, even more significantly, showed the closing burst that separates him from all other defensive players.
If Polamalu is out for a long time, if not for the year, it might be too much for the Steelers to overcome. It's one thing having a star missing games early in the season. It's something much worse having him missing them down the stretch.