The playoff prospects of the streaking Buffalo Bills took a turn for the better yesterday with the unsurprising revelation that rookie Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is expected to miss the two teams’ regular season finale. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette :

Roethlisberger has bruised ribs, and it is extremely doubtful he will play for the Steelers Sunday at Buffalo, sources told the Post-Gazette. He will, however, be ready for their first playoff game Jan. 15-16 in Heinz Field.

The Steelers had no official comment yesterday on Roethlisberger’s injury, other than to confirm it was to his ribs, the result of a late hit by Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs in their 20-7 victory Sunday against the Ravens. An MRI Sunday night showed no serious damage to Roethlisberger’s ribs.

No quarterback in the history of the game can match Roethlisberger’s 13-0 record as a starter in the regular season — not just as a rookie but in any season. Jim McMahon was 11-0 as a starter for the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears when they went 15-1 in 1985. Bart Starr started every game for the NFL champion Green Bay Packers when they went 13-1 in 1962.

Roethlisberger long ago snapped the rookie quarterback record for consecutive victories, once held by Mike Kruczek at six in 1976.

By not playing in Buffalo, Roethlisberger will have set two more rookie quarterback records, held by Dan Marino since 1983. Marino completed 58.3 percent of his passes as a rookie, Roethlisberger completed 66.4. Marino’s rookie passer rating was 96.0, topped by Roethlisberger’s 98.1.

He also will become third all-time in the NFL among rookie quarterbacks with the highest average gain per pass attempt — and the best since the 1970 merger.

Cincinnati’s Greg Cook averaged 9.411 yards in 1969, Cleveland’s Bob Waterfield averaged 9.409 yards in 1946 and the Chicago Bears’ Zeke Bratkowski averaged 8.36 in 1954. Roethlisberger averages 8.88.

So, it appears his rookie regular season is in the books. Now, Roethlisberger can set his sights on the postseason and another first: No rookie quarterback has ever started a Super Bowl. Roethlisberger will have three weeks to rest those bruised ribs and try to make a run at that one.