Ben Roethlisberger teared up at the end of the Steelers’ 48-37 loss to the Browns in Sunday night’s AFC wild-card clash, leaving the season behind with his future uncertain.
The 38-year-old threw four interceptions in the defeat and had a snap fly past him on a defensive touchdown for Cleveland. He faces retirement speculation not only because of his age, but also because of his iffy play late in the 2020 campaign.
Roethlisberger’s emotions were perhaps the most striking visual of a year that began 11-0 but ended with five losses in six games.
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The Steelers reportedly considered signing then-free agent Jameis Winston last offseason before Winston went to the Saints to sit behind Drew Brees. That left them with Mason Rudolph, a 2018 third-round pick, as the primary option behind Roethlisberger.
Rudolph holds a 82.7 career passer rating in 15 appearances. It’s unclear whether Pittsburgh would look elsewhere should Roethlisberger indeed decide he’s done with football.
But on Sunday night, the potential transaction dominos were a little too far off to consider. It was enough to dwell in the raw emotion of a franchise great.
If Ben does retire, it’s been such a hell of a career. 2 Super Bowls, went to 3. Youngest QB to win a Super Bowl, threw over 60,000 yards, almost 400 touchdowns. Most career 500+ yard games, with another one tonight. Thank you for everything Big Ben, we will miss you. pic.twitter.com/7VgCQczExK
— ???? (@EliteDiontae) January 11, 2021
Damn it’s gonna be tough on this app for Big Ben??
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) January 11, 2021
Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey are sitting side by side on the Steelers bench. Teammates are coming up to see them.
Have to wonder if this is the end of the road for both. pic.twitter.com/NuIAFFh4AB
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) January 11, 2021