A scary scene unfolded at Paul Brown Stadium Monday night.
Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier had to be carted off the field after he led with his helmet on a tackle attempt early in the first quarter of the Steelers’ game against the Bengals.
Shazier drilled his helmet into the side of Bengals receiver Josh Malone, causing his neck to buckle and his legs to go limp.
Shazier immediately grabbed his lower back and remained motionless on the ground for several moments before being taken off the field on a stretcher. He did not have feeling in his lower body, according to NFL.com.
Shazier immediately left the stadium in an ambulance and was taken to UC Trauma Center in Cincinnati. He kept pointing to his waist prior to leaving, according to NFL Network.
The Steelers refused to comment on his condition, describing his status as “unavailable.”
Shazier, 25, has quickly developed into the Steelers’ leader on defense since being drafted in the first round in 2014. Shazier was named to his first Pro Bowl last season after recording 87 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions.
Ryan Shazier lies on the field after an apparent back injury.
Shazier has managed to even improve his play this season. Entering Monday night, the Pro Bowl linebacker leads the team in tackles (87), interceptions (3), forced fumbles (2) and passes deflected (11).
Prior to the injury, Shazier was well on his way to a second straight Pro Bowl appearance and had a case to potentially be named Defensive Player of the Year as well.
Players and media from across the league sent their prayers to Shazier via Twitter shortly after the frightening scene unfurled.
“Everyone please pray for @RyanShazier and his loved ones! Can’t imagine what they’re going through right now,” Lions receiver Golden Tate wrote, along with a praying hands emoji.
“Prayers up for Ryan Shazier,” former Giants, Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress wrote.
“Young Lion @RyanShazier, God is able. Thoughts and prayers are with you and steeler nation,” former Ravens linebacker wrote, including a praying hands emoji.
Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier is carted off the field.
“Really hoping the best for Ryan Shazier, that didn’t look good,” Mike Golic wrote.
“Praying for Ryan Shazier. Asking for others to do the same. #SteelersNation,” former receiver Steve Smith Jr. wrote, including a praying hands emoji.
“Praying for a lot of ANGELS to protect @RyanShazier,” former Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor wrote, along with a heart emoji.
“Praying for @RyanShazier that looked bad,” Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson wrote, including a praying hands emoji.
“Prayers out to @RyanShazier! #THE,” Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper wrote, along with a praying hands emoji.
“Nothing but prayers for Shazier,” Hall of Fame running back and Steelers legend Jerome Bettis wrote.
“We sit from our couch and so freely critique aspects of the NFL thru a keypad. But every tackle is like flipping a coin with your life. Warriors. Absolute warriors. Prayers for @RyanShazier,” sportscaster Brandon Tierney wrote.