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Tomlin says he wasn't benching Big Ben vs. 49ers, despite injury

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Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he never thought of benching Ben Roethlisberger the previous night, despite the quarterback's bad ankle and shaky performance during a 20-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

"He's a competitor, and I am not going to deny those guys those opportunities," Tomlin said. "His teammates have an appreciation for that. I think that is how we are built.

"There are some points where I wish we had performed better. No issues in terms of considering pulling him at any juncture in the game."

Tomlin acknowledged during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio that Roethlisberger, who "obviously" wasn't 100 percent but still good enough to play, was impacted by the injury.

"I'm sure it did," Tomlin said. "A lot of his game is predicated on mobility and so forth. But he wanted to give it a shot, we wanted him to give it a shot. We don't make any excuses for what we tried to do last night."

Tomlin's stance directly contradicts what Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. According to Roethlisberger, Tomlin wanted to remove him late in the game, but the quarterback refused.

"I said, 'No, I'm not putting (backup QB) Charlie (Batch) in that situation and I'm not quitting on my guys,'" Roethlisberger said. "I started this thing and I'm going to finish it."

Roethlisberger, who suffered a high ankle sprain during a victory over the Cleveland Browns the previous week, threw for 330 yards Monday but coughed up three interceptions.

The quarterback also insisted that he didn't receive painkiller injections before playing in the game.

"We heard that (ESPN analyst) Steve Young and those guys say that before pre-game, 'Oh, he'll go shoot it up.' No, we don't do that," Roethlisberger told the Tribune-Review. "They would never put me out there and endanger me or anybody on this team. There was no injection; there was two Tylenols and two Advil."


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Going forward, Tomlin told SiriusXM there "certainly" is a concern about making Roethlisberger's injury worse. Tomlin said a judgment on Roethlisberger's status will be made on a week-to-week basis, but from what he could tell, there wasn't additional damage done to the quarterback's ankle.

Tomlin also said Tuesday that running back Mewelde Moore suffered a medial collateral ligament sprain and wouldn't be available this week, and running back Rashard Mendenhall has sore ribs but likely will be able to play Saturday. Linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring), center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) could all return this weekend.

Tomlin said linebacker LaMarr Woodley left Monday's game because of fatigue, not because of any serious issue with his hamstring.

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