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Published: Friday, 11/4/2005

Roethlisberger has knee surgery

Ben Roethlisberger, who reinjured his knee in Monday night's game, had a piece of cartilage removed from his right knee. Ben Roethlisberger, who reinjured his knee in Monday night's game, had a piece of cartilage removed from his right knee.

PITTSBURGH - Right up to the end, Ben Roethlisberger kept trying to tell his coach that he wanted to keep playing, that he didn't want to have surgery, that he could play with pain.

But, just as his right knee did in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens, Roethlisberger eventually gave way.

After getting a second opinion, the Findlay native had arthroscopic surgery yesterday morning to remove a piece of cartilage in his right knee and will miss Sunday's game in Green Bay and possibly the Nov. 13 home game against the Cleveland Browns.

Roethlisberger, the NFL's highest-rated passer, should be ready to return when the Steelers play in Baltimore Nov. 20, if not sooner. That means Charlie Batch, who has been elevated to the No. 2 quarterback position, will make his first start in nearly four years when the Steelers (5-2) play the Packers (1-6).

"Right now we have to continue on," said Batch, a Pittsburgh native who last started on Dec. 2, 2001, for the Detroit Lions. "Whenever your number is called you have to be ready."

His last pass in a regular-season game was Nov. 30, 2003, when he went 1-for-2 in mop-up duty for the Steelers. Since coming to the Steelers in 2002, Batch has attempted just eight passes, completing four, in the regular season.

In a 15-minute procedure, Steelers orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Bradley removed a small portion of the lateral meniscus in Roethlisberger's knee. Coach Bill Cowher said the procedure "went very well."

Cowher said his second-year quarterback did not want to have surgery, but was convinced to do so after results of his MRI exam were sent to noted orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion.

Roethlisberger was injured on the first series of Monday night's 20-19 victory against the Baltimore Ravens. Roethlisberger never came out of the game, but he told Cowher at halftime he would remove himself if he felt he were hurting the team.

The latest injury aggravated a knee injury Roethlisberger received in the season opener against Tennessee.

"He wants to play through everything," Cowher said. "But just sitting down [Wednesday] night and talking about what the options are, I think there is no question this was the right thing to do and do it now. He understands [the situation] and he's handled it very well."

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Gerry Dulac is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.

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