Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Sees Reality Set In After Ben Roethlisberger’s Final Game: ‘I Don’t Have the Words’

For a decade and a half, Mike Tomlin has been the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger under center.

When the 2022 NFL season begins, it is doubtful that Roethlisberger will be taking the snap. The end of an era in Pittsburgh has arrived after the Kansas City Chiefs thwarted the Steelers on Sunday at Arrowhead and presumably sent Big Ben into retirement.

It was an emotional scene after the clock hit triple zero, and the moment hit everybody all at once — including Tomlin. After the game, reality appeared to set in for Roethlisberger’s long-time head coach, who stepped up to the podium and didn’t know what to say.

Ben Roethlisberger’s final game brought an emotional reaction from Mike Tomlin

The expectation for weeks was Roethlisberger would retire after the season. The fact the Steelers even made the playoffs was a miracle, and even though they lost, it was still an honor to see Roethlisberger on the playoff stage once again.

Tomlin, who stood alongside Big Ben forever, had no idea what to say after the loss (h/t James Palmer of NFL Network).

“Man. He was 7. It’s been an honor and a privilege. I don’t have the words.”

Mike Tomlin on Ben Roethlisberger

What can you say?

When you spend that long with somebody, battling day in and day out, it is hard to let go. Yet, Tomlin and Roethlisberger are headed in opposite directions for the first time since they joined forces.

Earlier this month, Tomlin held back tears while discussing Roethlisberger.

That was before the playoffs began, so giving the veteran one last time to play under the bright lights surely meant the world to Tomlin.

Nonetheless, Roethlisberger is set to hang up the cleats after an illustrious career.

The Mike Tomlin-Ben Roethlisberger duo ranks among the best in NFL history

The Tomlin-Roethlisberger duo ranked in the top three before the Monday night game against the Cleveland Browns. They beat the Browns in Big Ben’s final game at Heinz Field, and they followed it up with a Week 18 victory over the Baltimore Ravens to move past Sean Payton and Drew Brees.

To say that is impressive would be an understatement, especially considering the teams Roethlisberger and Tomlin had to face year in and year out.

To no surprise, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are miles ahead, but that is a one-off in those categories. The Roethlisberger-Tomlin pairing worked, obviously, and they brought a Super Bowl trophy to Pittsburgh.

Tomlin has compiled 154 wins as head coach of the Steelers, and Roethlisberger has been there the entire time. Tomlin clinched another winning season after finishing with a 9-8-1 record — including the playoffs.

The Tomlin-Roethlisberger duo will be in history books for a long time.

What do the Steelers do now at the quarterback position?

Pittsburgh Steelers HC Mike Tomlin and QB ben Roethlisberger.
Ben Roethlisberger and Head Coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Steelers quarterback situation will be monitored for the next few months. Will they draft a rookie and trot him out in 2022?

Do the Steelers roll with Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins as they develop somebody else? Or does Pittsburgh attempt to trade for somebody like Russell Wilson or Jimmy Garoppolo?

So much to figure out, and Tomlin admitted: “all options are on the table.”

It will be a busy offseason for Pittsburgh, and Tomlin will head into the offseason without Roethlisberger for the first time in his career.

No words are the perfect way to put it.

Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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