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Roethlisberger questionable for Sunday's regular-season finale

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Ben Roethlisberger's ribs are only bruised and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher listed the rookie quarterback as questionable for Sunday's regular-season finale at Buffalo.

The game is meaningless for the Steelers, who have clinched home-field advantage for the playoffs in the AFC. The Bills are fighting for a wild-card playoff berth.

The last thing you can do when you go into any football game is to diminish the importance of it,'' Cowher said.Certainly you're going to keep the big picture in mind, but we're going to prepare this week as we always have, to go up there and win this football game.''

The Steelers are riding a franchise-record 13-game win streak, while the Bills are riding a six-game win streak that has put them in position to earn a playoff berth after an 0-4 start. The Bills need to beat the Steelers and have either the New York Jets or Denver Broncos lose in order to clinch a spot in the playoffs.

Cowher said his plans for the game would not change even if another playoff berth were not dependent on the outcome.

This is not about what we owe anybody. It's what we owe ourselves. This is how you play the game,'' he said.We've got to play the game the way we know how to play the game. Those aren't things you can turn on and off, and if you think you can turn it on and off you're going to be mistaken and be led down a road that's going to be very disappointing.''

Roethlisberger was hurt Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens when he was driven into the turf by Terrell Suggs during a third-quarter touchdown pass to Jerame Tuman. Roethlisberger returned for three plays on the next series before leaving the field for good.

Roethlisberger was taken to the hospital as a precaution and an MRI revealed he suffered bruised cartilage in his ribs. Although Roethlisberger is listed as questionable, Cowher said adding a quarterback to the roster is ``a distinct possibility.''

Cornerback Deshea Townsend has been ruled out of the Buffalo game with broken bones in his hand. Cowher said Townsend should be questionable for the first playoff game.

Sunday, Townsend will be replaced at right cornerback by Chad Scott, who was the starting left cornerback before injuring a quadriceps muscle Oct. 17 against the Dallas Cowboys. Willie Williams will remain at left cornerback.

Listed as doubtful for Sunday's game are Jerome Bettis, with a sprained ankle, and left outside linebacker Clark Haggans, who could miss his third consecutive game with a groin injury.

Running back Duce Staley (hamstring) and inside linebacker Kendrell Bell (groin) are questionable.

Cowher hopes Staley can start at running back and allow Bettis to rest, even though Bettis is only 59 yards shy of what would be his ninth 1,000-yard season.

I'm not looking at records or looking to appease any of that,'' Cowher said.We've got to do what's in the best interests of this football team as we prepare our quest for what everybody wants, and that's a championship. I don't think you can deviate from that just to serve the individual purposes of players.''

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