Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stopped far short of accusing the 49ers of wrongdoing, but intimated Wednesday he suspected his bum ankle was being targeted during a game last season at Candlestick Park.The topic turned to the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal on The Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio, when Roethlisberger made passing reference to the 49ers' 20-3 victory over the Steelers on Monday, Dec. 19.
After that game, Roethlisberger called himself "the 49ers' best player." He threw three interceptions, was sacked three times and fumbled twice.
"Sometimes you get guys —- things happen under piles and, you know, the little extra twisting of the ankles and poking, things like that," Roethlisberger said. "But this whole bounty thing —- I don't know if I'd sit there and and say, 'Wow, that guy really tried to end my career.' Honestly, I don't know."
Patrick asked Roethlisberger when the last time he felt a team was going after his knees, ankles or head.
"Um, wow, that's tough," Roethlisberger said. "I don't really complain about that stuff, either. But I think when we played San Fran, I felt like there were some things going on, some extra . . . Now, obviously, I did have the ankle and I was playing, so there was kind of a bulls-eye on there anyway. But for the most part, guys play tough and you go into a game expecting it. I expect to be tougher than them."
A 49ers team spokesman declined comment.
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No 49ers players were penalized or fined for any illegal hits in the game.
Roethlisberger's status for against the 49ers was in question through pre-game warmups after he sustained a badly sprained left ankle in the Steelers' previous game.
"I really wasn't paying attention in pre-game, but with the injury he had, it wasn't really too easy for him to come back the next week and be 100 percent," said 49ers pass-rusher Aldon Smith after the game in which he recorded 2 1/2 sacks. "So it was definitely something we all had in mind."