Big Ben in 'here and now,' hopes to play for Steelers vs. Rams

The choice isn't really much of a choice for Ben Roethlisberger.

Given the option to play or rest his badly sprained left ankle Saturday against the struggling St. Louis Rams, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback would rather take the field, regardless of the pain or the risk.

"I'm in the here and now," Roethlisberger said. "That's where we are as coaches and players and a team."

Maybe, but the Steelers (10-4) also are at a crossroads.

Monday night's 20-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers likely cost the defending AFC champion Steelers any shot of securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and they need two wins and plenty of help just to win the AFC North and earn a first-round bye.

Roethlisberger gamely threw for 330 yards on basically one leg against the 49ers, but his limited mobility restricted the playbook and made every snap an adventure. He tossed three interceptions and fumbled once while failing to get the Steelers into the end zone for the first time in over two years.

He would love to atone against the woeful Rams (2-12). The Steelers just aren't sure they need him to try.

NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora cited team sources in reporting this week that the team likely will rest Roethlisberger until the playoffs.

Longtime backup Charlie Batch is 4-2 in spot starts for Roethlisberger over the last six seasons, and though the 38-year-old isn't quite as nimble as he used to be, he and fellow reserve Dennis Dixon have a better chance of getting away from Rams defensive end Chris Long than a hobbled Roethlisberger.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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