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Monday, December 19, 2011
Roethlisberger will start against 49ers

By Jamison Hensley

SAN FRANCISCO -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will start tonight against the 49ers despite moving gingerly during warmups.

Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger is wearing a protective brace on his left leg to stabilize his high-ankle sprain. He injured his left ankle 11 days ago against Cleveland and was considered a game-time decision after being limited in practice Friday and Saturday.

This is an important game for the Steelers, who would take control of the AFC North and gain an inside track for the AFC's top seed with a victory.

San Francisco has recorded 32 sacks in 13 games this season, which ranks in the middle of the NFL. If Roethlisberger can't finish the game, Charlie Batch would replace him.

The biggest challenge for Roethlisberger is throwing deep because he can't follow through on his passes (he can't put all of his weight on his left leg). But the Steelers don't need to throw the ball deep to generate big plays in the passing game. Wide receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown have the speed and elusiveness to take short passes and turn them into big gains.