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Ben Roethlisberger Injury: Pittsburgh Steelers Doomed on Monday Without Big Ben

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass against the Cleveland Browns during the game on December 8, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Michael MillSenior Analyst IIIDecember 16, 2011

Pittsburgh fans should still be restless heading into the weekend after news that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger only participated in limited reps during Steelers practice Friday.

Roethlisberger is nursing his ankle, which was injured in last weekend's game against the Cleveland Browns.

Coach Mike Tomlin said that for Big Ben to start this Monday, he would have to participate in at least one practice leading up to the game.

He has practiced, but his status is still up in the air.

The situation couldn't happen at a more critical time for the Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are currently in a dead heat in the race for the AFC North. Each are sitting at 10-3 records.

Both are virtually locks for the playoffs, but a first-round bye is still on the line.

If Roethlisberger doesn't start this week, it could be that one setback that pushes Pittsburgh back enough to force them to settle with a wild-card berth.

The San Francisco 49ers are the surprise team of the league this season after the addition of head coach John Harbaugh.

The team is playing with a fire on offense and defense.

The 49ers are shutting down teams on the ground. They rank at the top of the league in rush defense, which has been the key to their league best 14.0 points allowed per game.

If the defense has any weakness, it's the secondary.

If the Steelers are going to win this game, it's going to be because of their success throwing the ball.

They won't have that success unless it's Roethlisberger under center.

If Big Ben can't go on Sunday, it will be 37-year-old Charlie Batch taking over.

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