Despite fever, Big Ben starts vs. Jaguars

Updated: September 19, 2006, 2:39 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Ben Roethlisberger started in the Steelers' 9-0 loss at Jacksonville on Monday night.

Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger

Despite running a fever -- with his temperature reaching as high as 104 degrees around 2 p.m. -- and wearing protective padding around his midsection, Roethlisberger returned to Pittsburgh's lineup, barely two weeks after an emergency appendectomy. He completed 17 of 32 passes for 141 yards, was sacked twice and was knocked down several more times by a dominating Jaguars defense.

Prior to the game, Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher said, if needed, the Steelers would have been ready to make the switch to last week's starter Charlie Batch, but told ESPN's Michelle Tafoya that Roethlisberger tends to play well when he's not feeling so well.

Roethlisberger didn't miss a practice all week in his recovery from an appendectomy, and while he was listed as questionable until less than an hour before kickoff, he'd indicated throughout the week he wanted to play.

Dr. Michael Kaplan, ESPN's medical correspondent, told Tafoya that Roethlisberger's return Monday night was not without risk and termed the move "bold."

The most likely issues that Roethlisberger could encounter by playing just two weeks after surgery is pain and muscle spasms in the abdominal area, Kaplan told Tafoya. But there was also the risk that a strong hit could cause a hernia or internal bleeding to the affected area, Kaplan said.

However, Kaplan added that elite athletes have extra muscle for protection and a greater ability to withstand pain and contact blows.

Besides practicing, Roethlisberger threw to receivers last Monday and Tuesday on what were supposed to be off days. Normally, the Steelers only hold out injured players when they can't practice.

Roethlisberger sat out the season-opening 28-17 victory over the Dolphins on Sept. 7 after having his appendix removed four days earlier.

Roethlisberger missed last year's game against the Jaguars with a knee injury -- one of four games he missed in 2005 -- and watched as backup Tommy Maddox had four turnovers in a 23-17 overtime loss.

The Jaguars have beaten the Steelers nine times in 17 games since Cowher was hired in 1992, the most victories for any opponent over that span except for the Titans, who are 12-11 against Pittsburgh during the same period.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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