The Pittsburgh Steelers pulled off a minor miracle in the final week of the NFL season to sneak into the playoffs and keep Ben Roethlisberger’s playing career alive. They not only beat the Baltimore Ravens on the road, but also got the help they needed with the Indianapolis Colts losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Las Vegas Raiders knocking off the Los Angeles Chargers.
However, that luck ran out at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday evening against the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite the Steelers going up early in the game, the Chiefs came back to beat Pittsburgh 42-21 and advance to the next round. As a result, we have likely seen Roethlisberger play his final game in the NFL.
“Yeah it’s tough, but I’m proud to play with these guys,” the quarterback said when asked to describe his emotions when walking off the field, via ESPN.com. “God has blessed me with an ability to throw a football and has blessed me to play in the greatest city, in Pittsburgh, with the greatest fans and the greatest football team and players. And it has just been truly a blessing, and I’m so thankful to him for the opportunity that he’s given me.
“Just a bunch of guys that fought for each other, that fought their butts off and just competed. It wasn’t always pretty, but there are a lot of games that we found a way. I’m so proud of this group of men and the way they fight for each other, for the black and gold, for our fans. It’s just been an honor to play with them.”
Roethlisberger has spent his entire professional career playing in Pittsburgh with the Steelers, after he was selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. He has led the team to two Super Bowl triumphs and has been named to the Pro Bowl a total of six times during his career.
“He’s won Super Bowls. He’s a guy that I’ve watched growing up, and I have a ton of respect for him,” said Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes following his team’s victory, via ESPN.com. “That’s what I told him, that if this is his last game, he did it the right way.”
While Roethlisberger hasn’t officially announced his retirement yet, it is expected that the 39-year-old will hang up his boots. His teammates will certainly miss him if it is the end of his illustrious career.
“No. 7, man, the way he’s battled, the way he’s always given us a chance – when you talk about having toughness as a quarterback, when you talk about a guy who is going to give you everything he’s got, you can’t ask for more than that,” Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward said, via ESPN.com. “Ever since I got here…we had a guy who gave us a chance; when we started a season, you said that’s a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. There’s not a lot of quarterbacks who can do what he does.”
It’s going to be tough to for the Steelers to replace a legend like Roethlisberger, but at some point all good things come to an end and it is now time to begin looking towards the future.