The final game of Ben Roethlisberger‘s NFL career didn’t go the way he wanted. Then again, when does it? The final chapter is always bittersweet, and the Pittsburgh Steelers stood no chance against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
After the game, Roethlisberger delivered some powerful quotes, and his words embodied who he has become in the last 18 years: the heart of Steelers Nation. Moreover, his comments show why the organization handled his departure the right way and stuck by him.
Ben Roethlisberger’s swan song ended in an unfortunate playoff loss, but he remains grateful for the opportunity
The first half of this game seemed like a storybook for the Steelers. The Chiefs offense was held in check, and Pittsburgh led at one point after a T.J. Watt touchdown.
But the second half was much different, and Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs to a 42-21 victory, ending Roethlisberger’s storied career.
Nonetheless, Roethlisberger expressed his gratitude for playing the game for such a long time (h/t Ed Bouchette of The Athletic):
“We thought last week was going to be the end. We didn’t know what was going to happen and got blessed to play another football game. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but it’s a blessing to play this game. I mean … how lucky are we to play football for a living? We need to count our blessings and understand how lucky we are.”Ben Roethlisberger after loss to Chiefs
The way the Steelers got to the playoffs was a movie in and of itself. It took a victory over the Baltimore Ravens (in overtime), a Jacksonville Jaguars victory over the Indianapolis Colts, and a wild Las Vegas Raiders-Los Angeles Chargers finish to send Big Ben and company to the playoffs.
A wild ride to get there and just the opportunity to play one more game is what Roethlisberger is happy about. After all, not many get to make the playoffs. Even fewer can play the game for as long as he did.
The Steelers QB gives the city of Pittsburgh love for standing by him every step of the way
“Meant to be.”
Back in the 2004 NFL Draft, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers were the first two quarterbacks selected. After that, Roethlisberger got drafted by the Steelers — and that turned out to be a perfect choice.
Two Super Bowl championships, six trips to the Pro Bowl, over 400 passing touchdowns, and just so many more accolades for Roethlisberger in a legendary career — it’s unreal. Even better, every single one came with a Steelers helmet on his head.
His comments after the game show why the Steelers made the right choice never to waver (h/t Ed Bouchette):
“God has blessed me with the ability to throw a football, and blessed me to play in the greatest city, in Pittsburgh, with the greatest fans and the greatest football team and players, and it’s just been truly a blessing.”Ben Roethlisberger
That’s overflowing gratitude from Roethlisberger — for the fans, the team, his teammates, and everybody involved in his impressive 18-year journey.
How many times could Roethlisberger have headed elsewhere in free agency? Furthermore, the Steelers could have gone younger and brought in other options under center. Yet, they were committed to him, and he was committed to the Black and Gold.
It wasn’t easy, and it had all kinds of twists and turns along the way, but Roethlisberger closed a massive chapter in Steelers franchise history.
Ben Roethlisberger’s next stop will be Canton
Is Ben Roethlisberger a Hall of Famer?
This should be a non-question. The accolades speak for themselves, and if you were lucky enough to witness Roethlisberger playing over the last 18 years, you know how valuable he was to this team.
Time and time again, questions came up about whether Roethlisberger would remain in Pittsburgh, and every time, he came back.
A rock, a warrior, a trooper — you name it. Roethlisberger’s toughness embodied Steelers Nation, his commitment to the team was contagious, and captain Cam Heyward raved about him.
Now, it is up to Heyward to take over the leadership role after Roethlisberger officially retires, and those are some huge shoes to fill.
The next stop for Roethlisberger is the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. See you soon with the gold jacket, No. 7.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference