Ben Roethlisberger has flirted with the idea of retirement for years. This time, however, feels different. For the first time in his nearly two-decade career, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has done more than just hint that the end is near. It may finally be within reach.
“I would say all signs are that it could be the case,” Roethlisberger said ahead of Monday night’s game against Cleveland at Heinz Field.
The 39-year-old offered no guarantees. Guarantees aren’t really his thing. Still, the signs have been there for most of his 18th season.
The two-time Super Bowl winner has spoken wistfully, solemnly to others at times during an extremely uneven season for himself and for the franchise he has long defined.
He made a point of trying to stay in the moment, but with Pittsburgh at 7-7-1 and his playoff chances at best uncertain, Roethlisberger will stand in the tunnel and run to Heinz Field as that leaving for the home team for the 135th and possibly the last time. The roar will be deafening. The emotions will be strong. The stakes will be too.
“I know I still have it in the tank to go out there this week and next week and give it my all to do whatever I can to get us into the playoffs,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s always the ultimate goal to win a Lombardi, and that’s always the goal. We’re not out of this business yet.
No, but it’s getting closer. Any chance the Steelers have has to start with a win over Cleveland (7-8), and any chance of that will likely require Roethlisberger to do what he’s done so often in front of a sea of Terrible yellow Towels: summon greatness – even if it’s just lightning – at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers.
Take a look back at some of the home highlights of a player whose life began in Lima, Ohio almost 40 years ago, and whose career will likely end there with his bust listed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton five years after its end.
Oct 3, 2004 – The Steelers selected Roethlisberger with the 11th overall pick in the 2004 Draft, but expected him to watch and learn behind veteran Tommy Maddox during his rookie season. Then Maddox fell in September with a right elbow injury. Roethlisberger led the NFL’s top-ranked defense to victory in his very first NFL start before making his Heinz Field debut against Cincinnati.
If he was nervous, the 22-year-old was not showing it. Roethlisberger completed 17 of 25 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown pass to Verron Haynes in a 28-17 victory.
“You can just see him go into his,” wide receiver Plaxico Burress said afterward. “He doesn’t let anything bother him, and that’s what I love about him.”
The victory would be the second of 15 straight wins for Roethlisberger and the Steelers in a season in which he won the offensive rookie of the year award.
December 20, 2009 – The Steelers and Roethlisberger – already two-time Super Bowl winners – were in the middle of a lackluster season (by their standards) when Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers came to town days before Christmas.
Roethlisberger beat Rodgers in a 37-36 thriller, throwing a team-record 503 yards and three touchdowns, the last on a 19-yard pass to Mike Wallace when time runs out.
“We haven’t given up,” said Roethlisberger, a mantra that has come to define a player whose 40 fourth quarter returns rank third all-time.
Jan. 23, 2011 – Tied at 24 with rival Baltimore in the divisional playoff round at the end of the fourth quarter and facing the third and 19-year-olds, Roethlisberger trusted then-rookie wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown pinned a Roethlisberger rainbow against his helmet for a 58-yard gain that led to the deciding touchdown.
It wouldn’t be the last time Brown and Roethlisberger worked together to stun the Ravens.
October 26, 2014 – Known more for his courage than his flashy numbers early in his career, the perception of Roethlisberger began to change during his long and productive partnership with offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
With Brown becoming one of the best players in the NFL as well as sophomore back Le’Veon Bell, in 2014 the group known locally as “The Killer Bs” became one of the top offenses. league electrics.
In a 51-34 victory over Indianapolis in late October, Roethlisberger lit up the Colts for 522 yards and six touchdowns, the culmination of a season in which he tied with Drew Brees for the league title by the pass (4,952 yards).
December 25, 2016 – Just days after the 44th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, Roethlisberger and Brown orchestrated the Immaculate Extension in a Christmas Day win over the Ravens.
Led by three with under 20 seconds to go and no downtime, Roethlisberger hit Brown at Baltimore 1. Brown then ignored three Ravens defenders to stretch the ball through the plane of the goal line to claim a 31- win. 27 to finish up to the AFC North title.
“Give them credit,” Ravens goaltender Eric Weddle said afterward. “Ben rolled it over.”
December 10, 2017 – A week after losing linebacker Ryan Shazier to a career-ending spine injury, Roethlisberger staged an emotional rally from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Ravens.
Roethlisberger led the Steelers to 19 points in the last 15 minutes, including a 55-yard walk in the 2:25 final that led to Chris Boswell’s winning 46-yard field goal. Roethlisberger shredded Baltimore for 506 yards and two touchdowns in a 39-38 thriller as the Steelers won their third AFC North title in four years.
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