On Monday evening longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger entered Heinz Field for the last time as an active player. He left the stadium as he usually does—with a victory—with the 26-14 Steelers win ensuring that the Cleveland Browns (7-9) will finish with a losing record in 2021.
In his post-game interview with Lisa Salters of ESPN, the 18-year veteran admitted that his own performance wasn’t what he was hoping for.
“You know what, it’s funny because it’s probably not the way you wanted it other than the win. And that’s all that really matters. That’s kind of been the story of my career. It’s not always pretty but we find a way. And man did our defense step up tonight,” he added, making reference to a defensive effort that included nine sacks, including four by Defensive Player of the Year favorite T.J. Watt. “It was just so much fun to be out here. These are the best fans in sports and the best place to play.”
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Ben Roethlisberger Takes a Knee
Unlike last year’s finale—also against the Browns, albeit in the postseason—this year’s game came to an end exactly as he wanted it to, in the victory formation.
After Steelers rookie running back Najee Harris rumbled for 37 yards in the final minute to put the game out of reach, rookie safety Tre Norwood intercepted Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, giving Big Ben the chance to kneel down and accept congratulations on the victory, as he has done so many times before.
“I didn’t think I was going to going to take the field again but it’s the best play in football when you’re an offensive player to take a knee and so I’m glad I got to do it one last time,” said Roethlisberger during his interview with Salters.
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Roethlisberger Takes a Victory Lap
But the kneel down near midfield was only the beginning in terms of emotional moments. Before leaving for the locker room Roethlisberger took a seat on the bench on the Steelers sideline.
He also took a victory lap, high-fiving Steelers fans as he made his way around the stands.
After his lap around Heinz Field he took the opportunity to hug his wife and three children before walking up the tunnel to the locker room.
The 39-year-old knows he’s got at least one more game to play before his Pro Football Hall of Fame-worthy career comes to an end. Fittingly, it will be at the same venue where he made his regular-season debut in 2004—at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
“We still got another game,” he told Salters. “I’ll be excited and ready to go for that but this is just an awesome place.”
Roethlisberger finished his final home game having completed 24 of 46 pass attempts for 123 yards with one touchdown and an interception. He has won 98 career games at Heinz Field, tying him with Hall of Famer Brett Favre for the third-most wins all-time at a single venue.
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