Sports

Steelers’ Roethlisberger mum on future after win

PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger isn’t talking about his future.

At least, not right now.

Fresh off a 20-19 comeback victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, Roethlisberger was mum about any potential plans to conclude his 18-year career in Pittsburgh at the end of the 2021 season.

The quarterback is quietly telling former teammates and people within the organization that he expects this to be his final season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Saturday.

“I haven’t told everybody that, no,” Roethlisberger said Sunday night. “Honestly, we just got done with this game, I’m exhausted. We play in a couple hours, it feels like. That’s my focus. My focus is on Minnesota and what we have to do to get ready.

“I’ll address any of that stuff after the season. I’ve always been a one-game-at-a-time, one-season-at-a-time person. I’m going to stay that way.”

Coach Mike Tomlin said he wasn’t concerned about a Roethlisberger farewell tour distracting the Steelers’ locker room through the final five regular season games.

“There’s nothing to manage,” Tomlin said. “Ben doesn’t allow it to become an issue. Ben has been pretty solid in terms of his expressions that he’s singularly focused on what it is that we’re doing now.

“He’ll deal with those things on the other side of this journey, and I’m with him on it.”

If Sunday was indeed his final matchup against the Ravens at Heinz Field, Roethlisberger penned an memorable penultimate chapter in his storied history with the rival organization.

The Steelers’ final drive, which resulted in their first lead of the night thanks to Diontae Johnson‘s five-yard touchdown catch and Pat Freiermuth‘s two-point conversion grab, was Roethlisberger’s 51st game-winning drive, breaking his tie with Tom Brady for third-most in league history.

Roethlisberger completed 21 of 31 attempts for 236 yards and two touchdowns.

It was also his 57th win in games decided by six points or fewer, tied with Drew Brees for the most by a quarterback since 1950, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

“I’ve been doing it a long time,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ve enjoyed this game, and this game specifically, and winning at home in front of our fans, it’s awesome.”

After a stagnant first half where the Steelers trailed 10-3 at halftime and the offense possessed the ball for just six minutes and 30 seconds, Roethlisberger, rebounding from the two-interception loss to the Cincinnati Bengals a week ago, helped his team to a second-half surge. He completed 13 of 18 attempts for 156 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.

Roethlisberger was especially effective with play-action passes, going 6-of-7 for 117 yards and a touchdown off play-action in the second half after going 1-of-2 for 12 yards in the first half, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

“He plays well all the time, in my opinion,” Johnson said. “He will throw picks here and there, but at the end of the day, he is a great quarterback. A Hall of Famer in my eyes, and I’m pretty sure in everyone else’s eyes, as well. But at the end of the day, it’s a team game, so we all played as one. We knew the end goal was to obviously come out on top, and we just have to keep it up.”

Roethlisberger, who was given a game ball in the locker room by Tomlin afterward, led two fourth-quarter scoring drives, each capped with touchdown throws to Johnson, who finished with eight receptions for 105 yards and two scores.

With the win, the Steelers (6-5-1), have a 17.4% chance to make the playoffs, up from 9.5% before kickoff, according to ESPN’s FPI.

“I just think when we needed a play, Ben came through,” defensive lineman Cam Heyward said. “The savviness to get the guy offsides and reset the downs, the naked play where we got to Diontae, Chase [Claypool] coming through with some big plays. Offensive line started playing well. Najee [Harris] started hitting downhill a little bit. Benny Snell hit downhill.

“There was a multitude of guys, but Ben helps orchestrate that.”

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