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Here’s the (drinking) game within the game for Sunday night’s Super Wild Card Weekend game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs: Take a sip every time one of the NBC announcers refers to it potentially being the final game of Ben Roethlisberger’s career.

And then, please, stop early in the second quarter. Monday is a workday, and the boss doesn’t need you showing up feeling the effects of getting more hammered than a bad woodshop teacher’s left thumb.

Ben Roethlisberger has done it all with the Pittsburgh Steelers

Two Super Bowl rings in his first five NFL seasons cemented Ben Roethlisberger’s legacy as a winner. Each season since has been a matter of adding to his Pro Football Hall of Fame resume.

The numbers are worthy of that spot in Canton:

  • 165 regular-season victories to go along with a 13-9 record in the playoffs entering the Sunday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • 418 touchdown passes and 64,088 yards through the air, and a 93.5 career passer rating.
  • Eight division titles and 11 trips to the playoffs.

Now, though, it’s about the future rather than the past. By all accounts, Roethlisberger is heading for retirement at the conclusion of this postseason. Six weeks away from his 40th birthday and with 247 regular-season starts in the books, the consensus is the time is right for the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback to move on to the next chapter of his life.

Cam Heyward wants Ben Roethlisberger ‘riding this thing out to the Super Bowl’

Pittsburgh Steelers stars Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Heyward. | Getty Images
Pittsburgh Steelers stars Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Heyward. | Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have business to take care of on the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs, but there’s an elephant in the room. Fifth-year Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is among the elites in the league, but Ben Roethlisberger is the signal-caller attracting the attention. Fans and media are focusing on what is presumed to be his impending departure.

Even the Steelers’ locker room has found itself caught up in the moment.

“We all understand the magnitude of the single-game elimination,” 11th-year defensive tackle Cam Heyward said, according to Steelers Depot. “Not only will it end our season, but it could be the end of one of the greatest Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks of our generation.

“We’ve been lucky enough to call him a teammate, and I don’t think we’re ready to let that party end. What better way to have a retirement party than riding this thing out to the Super Bowl?”

Born in Pittsburgh, the son of the beloved Craig “Ironhead” Heyward understands the city’s love for Roethlisberger.

“Pittsburgh loves Ben Roethlisberger because for the past 18 years this guy has given two Super Bowls, and given his body a beating trying to make sure he played for Pittsburgh,” Heyward, a first-team All-Pro pick in three of the past five seasons, told the New York Post. “Not many people could sustain a career like he has, taking all the bumps and bruises and delivering those clutch two-minute drives at the end of a game.”.

The Pittsburgh Steelers face a monumental task in Kansas City

The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled out of the gate with three losses in their first four games and then endured another 1-3 stretch wrapped around Thanksgiving. Three victories in their final four games and some fortuitous results in games involving other contenders cemented the hard-fought trip to the playoffs.

However, the road to the Super Bowl, the idea culmination to Ben Roethlisberger’s career, contains potholes. Even assuming Pittsburgh beats the Chiefs in Kansas City, where Patrick Mahomes is 5-1 in the playoffs, the Steelers’ journey would continue at Tennessee, where the Titans are expected to welcome back injured running back Derrick Henry.

The Steelers are winless in three playoff appearances since 2016. Winning for themselves will be difficult enough. Winning for Big Ben just adds that much more pressure for the Steelers’ task this month.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.