Rashard Mendenhall goes down with right knee injury

AP

The Pittsburgh Steelers are having a bad day in many ways, but the biggest is that they’ve lost running back Rashard Mendenhall to a right knee injury.

Mendenhall was tackled at the end of a carry in the first quarter at Cleveland and immediately grabbed his knee in obvious pain. He limped off the field and then to the locker room and will apparently not return.

Mendenhall was off to a good start, with 38 first-quarter yards, but he’s going to fall short of his third straight 1,000-yard year, having left with 928 yards so far this season.

The big question facing the Steelers is whether they’ll have Mendenhall in the playoffs, or whether they’ll have to rely on backup Isaac Redman and undrafted rookie John Clay.

It doesn’t appear that the Steelers will get a bye week for Mendenhall, Ben Roethlisberger and their other banged-up players to rest: Pittsburgh needed both a win and a Baltimore loss to get a bye, but in the third quarter the Steelers are tied 6-6 and the Ravens are winning 17-3.