Adding to the Colts' 45-10 blowout loss to the Steelers on Sunday night was the fact that starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck left the game early with a neck and shoulder injury.
It appeared as if Hasselbeck was pulled in the fourth quarter in large part because of the score, but he also was dealing with injuries. Head coach Chuck Pagano said after the game that Hasselbeck will be further evaluated but that he "should be ok." Hasselbeck said that he underwent x-rays and is in "a little bit of pain," saying that the area of concern is "neck-ish." He further clarified that he actually suffered two injuries during the game - one in the first quarter and one a little later on, but he added that neither of them was a knee injury. When asked about his status for next week's game against the Jaguars, Hasselbeck was non-committal, saying that he doesn't know about his status but that he hopes he'd be able to go.
The injury that everyone noticed tonight came in the third quarter of the game, just another of the many hits he took on the night. On one particular play in the third quarter, center Jonotthan Harrison was pushed back into Hasselbeck and what looked like into the quarterback's leg, and Hasselbeck stayed down on the field getting looked at by trainers for a moment. He then walked off the field under his own strength and was further evaluated by trainers while Charlie Whitehurst warmed up, but Hasselbeck went back in the game. NBC had a sideline report during the game that said that Hasselbeck was given a full neck evaluation and that the training staff applied a heating cream to his neck to keep him lose. After coming back in the game for a little while, however, the Colts pulled him and inserted Charlie Whitehurst into the game. They ruled Hasselbeck out for the remainder of the game with a neck and shoulder injury, but it likely had just as much to do with the score (38-10 at that point in the fourth quarter) as it did with the injury. He took a beating tonight and there was no reason for him to stay in a game that was already out of reach.
It was a disastrous game for Hasselbeck and the offense, as they managed just ten points all game. Hasselbeck completed 16 of 26 passes for 169 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions while also losing a fumble. For as reliable as Hasselbeck has been so far this season, he turned the football over three times tonight and was just off in a number of other areas. He didn't see open receivers (like Frank Gore wide open on fourth down). He missed open receivers (like Andre Johnson near the end zone). He made stupid decisions and bad throws (like the first interception). The Colts had great field position in this game (especially early on) and weren't able to do much at all, and that started with their quarterback.
With that said, however, having to play without Hasselbeck would make things even worse for the Colts, especially considering the fact that their remaining four games are all winnable. The Colts can't rush Andrew Luck back from his injuries too soon as it's a medical issue before a football issue, but recent reports make it sound as if Luck should be back in the next few weeks - either in week 15 or 16. Next week, however, it seems to be up to Hasselbeck, so the Colts need him to be able to play. Otherwise, it would likely be Charlie Whitehurst. At this point, there's not a ton of information but we assume Hasselbeck will be able to go, but it's a situation worth watching.
UPDATE: Chuck Pagano said on Monday that Hasselbeck suffered a sore/stiff neck and a mild rib separation on Sunday but is expected to practice this week and play on Sunday vs. the Jaguars.