Ben Roethlisberger’s last game at Heinz Field
Ben Roethlisberger faced the Cleveland Browns’ game captains alone at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ midfield logo minutes before what was likely his final game at Heinz Field kicked off.
Cam Heyward and Derek Watt, fellow Steelers captains, would ordinarily surround Roethlisberger on the walk to the coin toss, but they stopped short, allowing Ben Roethlisberger to proceed without them.
When Ben Roethlisberger noticed what was going on, he smacked them in a fun manner, but they continued to stand back. Ben Roethlisberger kept walking until he was alone at midfield for what could be his 18th and last coin toss at Heinz Field.
“We knew if we told Ben ahead of time, he’d say, ‘No, don’t do that,'” said the group. Heyward remarked. “So we took it away from him.” He was irritated, but we wanted to give him as many chances as possible to rejoice. “
It was the kind of simple tribute befitting the veteran, who remarked earlier that, in what was likely his final farewell to his home ground, he preferred winning Monday night to pomp and fanfare.
With a 26-14 victory over the Browns, the Steelers granted Ben Roethlisberger’s biggest dream.
“I’m extremely grateful to these people and this area.” There’s no place like it, “Roethlisberger remarked during a postgame interview with ESPN, tears in his eyes.
Ben Roethlisberger arrived four hours before kickoff Monday night for his regular pregame routine, but he didn’t hit the field for final warm-ups until 46 minutes before kickoff.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin remarked, “Ben did a pretty excellent job of setting the pace.” “He was completely concentrated.” It was business as usual, so he was simple to follow, and I believe that was how everyone felt about him. Obviously, it was a very emotional night, but he did a terrific job of laying the groundwork for that approach all week.
Ben Roethlisberger was greeted by Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull, who thanked the quarterback with a full-page advertisement in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday. Tull also donned a Roethlisberger jersey, which was black.
On the video board during pregame warm-ups, Steelers owner and president Art Rooney II hailed Roethlisberger for a “wonderful 18 years,” but the Steelers were scant on further accolades for the quarterback. There were no more Roethlisberger highlights added to the highlight reel during the fourth-quarter play of “Renegade.”
Ben Roethlisberger was the final player to be introduced individually, and he dashed out of the tunnel to a standing ovation from the 63,624 fans, who chanted “Let’s go, Ben” after his presentation. The chant reverberated across the stadium as fans, many of whom had brought farewell signs, said their goodbyes to their franchise quarterback.
Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt stated, “Everything was pretty cool and collected throughout this whole week, during the warmup.” “It’s really ordinary.” Until you took a step outside and felt the vibes. All seven jerseys and signs were visible.
“It was an atmosphere like I’d never experienced before.” It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was incredible for him because of his admirers. I’m grateful they were able to help him in that way. It was a memorable evening.
The Steelers retaliated with a spirited, complementing performance.
While the pass rush racked up nine sacks, including a career-high four from Watt, Roethlisberger completed 24 of 46 passes for 123 yards, one touchdown, and an interception on 24 of 46 attempts, including 34 in the first half. Ben Roethlisberger set an NFL record for fewest passing yards in a single game with at least 45 pass attempts with that effort, and he averaged 1.75 air yards per completion, his lowest since ESPN began tracking air yards in 2006.
“It’s weird because, other than the win, it’s probably not the way you wanted it,” Roethlisberger remarked. “And that’s truly all that matters.” And that’s been my career’s story: not always pretty, but we make it work. “
Najee Harris had his greatest performance as a pro, amassing 188 yards on 28 runs to help the offense. His big night helped him shatter Franco Harris’ 1972 franchise rookie rushing record, giving him 1,172 yards on the ground this season. In the final minute, he also scored a 37-yard touchdown.
Roethlisberger added, “He’s a hell of a football player.” It’s as though he ran possessed tonight.Some of the things he did were quite exceptional, and he was instrumental in our success.
Ben Roethlisberger wrapped up his postgame interview and lingered on the field for 12 minutes after taking a knee in victory formation thanks to Tre Norwood’s interception. He spun slowly in a circle with his thumb, index, and pinky fingers outstretched to inform the spectators at Heinz Field that he loved them.
Throughout the game, he strolled around the perimeter of the south end zone, high-fiving and thanking supporters who traveled, making posters and shouting “Thank you, Ben” and “Let’s go, Ben.”
Afterward, Ben Roethlisberger stated, “This is home.” I was born in Ohio, but I’ve always called this place home. These fans and this place have always meant a lot to me and my family. I’ve always maintained that they’re the best sports fans in the world, and I’ll continue to say it until the day I die.
I don’t know how I’ll ever put into words seeing all the posters, shirts, and towels, and hearing people applaud me going out of the tunnel, all that stuff. I wish I could put it in a bottle and keep it forever. But I’ll do it in my head and here. “
Tomlin sat back and observed as the quarterback made his way around Heinz Field, reflecting on their connection.
Tomlin stated, “I was relishing the last 15 years with him.” We’ve gone through a lot, man. We’ve seen quite a bit. It’s been an incredible journey. It’s been a privilege to be a part of and appreciate. “
Surrounded by cameras, Ben Roethlisberger cut back across the field to the sideline and hugged Rooney before taking a seat on the bench, where he sat with longtime center Maurkice Pouncey following a playoff loss to the Browns a year ago. He sat alone this time.
Ben Roethlisberger remarked, “I just wanted to sit down and take it all in.” “Just try to soak up every second of this place because it’s so unique, and the fans are so unique.” For them, I wanted to win this game more than anything. Obviously, we still have a bigger problem—we have another game to deal with. We have a limited chance of making the playoffs, but we must persevere. “
He got up and headed toward the tunnel, where he was joined by his family after a little while. He hugged everyone before walking into the tunnel with his wife and three children.
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