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Looking Back On, Reflecting, And Remembering The Career Of Ben Roethlisberger

By: Mike Darnay/KDKA-TV

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- After 18 seasons, two Vince Lombardi trophies, 165 wins, 418 touchdown passes, 64,088 yards, six Pro Bowl selections, and three trips to the Super Bowl, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is hanging up his cleats and calling it a career.

Roethlisberger has announced his retirement after nearly two decades with the Steelers.

His career, spent entirely in Pittsburgh, was filled with ups and downs, but ultimately he leaves behind a legacy that will leave a mark on the Steel City far past his retirement -- one worth remembering. 

'With the 11th pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Ben Roethlisberger'

For the first time in nearly 25 years, the Steelers drafted a quarterback in the first round of the draft, with the two previous selections being Terry Bradshaw in 1970 and Mark Malone in 1980.

2004 NFL Draft
NEW YORK - APRIL 24: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is seen after being selected 11th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2004 NFL Draft on April 24, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

The 6'5" Roethlisberger, from Miami (Ohio), was the third quarterback drafted in the 2004 class, with Eli Manning selected first overall and Philip Rivers fourth.

Ben Roethlisberger #7
1 Sep 2001: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Miami Ohio Redhawks throwing the ball during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines defeated the Redhawks 31-13.Mandatory Credit: Danny Moloshok /Allsport

Little did the Steelers know at the time, but less than six months later, the Ohio native would launch into the spotlight when injuries forced the team to play the young quarterback.

A record-setting rookie year

After taking over for injured veteran Tommy Maddox in the second week of the 2004 regular season, Roethlisberger went 13-0 as starter, leading the Steelers to a 15-1 regular season record and home field advantage through the postseason.

During Roethlisberger's 13-game win streak to start his career, the Steelers ended long winning streaks for the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles,

The Steelers earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs before defeating the New York Jets 20-17 in overtime in the Divisional Round.

AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 23: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches from the sidelines against the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2005 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The win in the divisional round set up an AFC Championship Game rematch from three years prior against the New England Patriots.

Roethlisberger's magical rookie run came to an end at the hand of Tom Brady, losing 41-27, falling just short of the Super Bowl.

'The Tackle'

One year after heartbreak in the AFC Championship Game, the Steelers appeared to be a team of destiny in 2005, rattling off multiple wins in a row to clinch a spot in the postseason.

After defeating the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers headed to Indianapolis to take on Peyton Manning and the No. 1-seed Colts in the Divisional Round.

A late fumble by Jerome Bettis led to one of Roethlisberger's greatest feats -- oddly enough, one that came when he didn't have the football in his hands.

2005 AFC Divisional Playoff Game - Pittsburgh Steelers vs Indianapolis Colts - January 15, 2006
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) was able to turn and make a game saving tackle of Indianapolis Colts defensive back Nick Harper (25) as Harper returned a fumble by Steelers running back Jerome Bettis during the closing minutes of the Steelers 21-18 win over the Colts at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 15, 2006. (Photo by Don Larson/Getty Images)

After Bettis fumbled the football inside the Indianapolis 5-yard line with barely a minute left, Colts defensive back Nick Harper picked up the ball and headed the other way. A shoestring tackle by Roethlisberger saved the game -- and ultimately the Steelers season.

The Colts eventually made their way into field goal range, but Mike Vanderjagt would miss his attempt at tying the game, and the Steelers held on for the 21-18 win.

A win the following week in Denver in the AFC Championship punched the Steelers' ticket to Super Bowl XL.

One for the thumb

One year after falling a game short of getting to the Super Bowl, the Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl, with Bill Cowher and Jerome Bettis reaching the top of the mountain for the first time during their careers -- a feat that had eluded both franchise cornerstones.

Roethlisberger, at 23, became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to win the Super Bowl, leading the Steelers to be the first No. 6 seed to do so.

Super Bowl XL - Pittsburgh Over Seattle 21-10
Feb 05, 2006 - Detroit , Michigan, USA - Pittsburgh's head coach BILL COWHER grabs his QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER in the final three minutes during a time out during the second half of Super Bowl XL between the Seattle Seahawks (NFC) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) at Ford Field. (Photo by Bob Leverone/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Roethlisberger didn't play his best in the big game, completing 9-of-21 pass attempts, throwing two interceptions, but scoring on a rushing touchdown. Hines Ward was named the MVP of the game.

Bettis announced his retirement after the game, having won the Super Bowl in his hometown of Detroit.

A close call

Less than six months after becoming the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl, Steeler Nation held its breath as Roethlisberger was involved in a serious motorcycle crash in downtown Pittsburgh.

Crashing into a car outside the Armstrong Tunnel at the intersection of 10th Street and 2nd Avenue, Roethlisberger broke his jaw and nose, requiring extensive facial surgery at Mercy Hospital.

Roethlisberger Motorcycle Crash
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Roethlisberger wasn't wearing a helmet in the crash.

The crash brought the discussion surrounding professional athletes and the riding of motorcycles back in the national spotlight. The year prior, Kellen Winslow, Jr., was injured in a motorcycle crash, tearing knee ligaments and forcing him to miss the season.

Roethlisberger would recover in time for the 2006 preseason.

One for the other thumb

In 2006, the Steelers missed the playoffs, failing to defend their 2005 crown, going 8-8 in Bill Cowher's final season as head coach. Mike Tomlin was hired as his replacement, with the team falling out in the Wild Card round in 2007.

In 2008, the Steelers became the first team to win six Super Bowls, winning one for the other thumb.

Super Bowl XLIII
TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Mike Tomlin and Dan Rooney look on after defeating the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Steelers defeated the Cardinals 27-23. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images)

Roethlisberger fared much better in the Super Bowl this time around, going 21-of-30 for 256 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

Super Bowl XLIII
TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01: Santonio Holmes #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches a 6-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Steelers won the game by a score of 27-23. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

His touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter goes down as one of the best plays in Super Bowl history, with a toe-tapping catch in the end zone by Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left in the game.

Sexual assault allegations

The following year, in 2010, news broke that Roethlisberger was being investigated by police in Milledgeville, Ga., on accusations of sexual assault.

The District Attorney held a press conference the following month, announcing that his office would not be filing charges. Shortly afterward, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that Roethlisberger was suspended for the first six games of the 2010 season for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

The suspension ultimately would be reduced to four games.

The accusations came less than one year after a lawsuit was filed, accusing Roethlisberger of rape at a Nevada hotel.

That lawsuit ended in 2011 when both parties agreed to a settlement.

Coming up short

The Steelers started their season in 2010 with a 3-1 record in Roethlisberger's absence while he served his suspension, with Big Ben returning to the lineup for the team in Week 6 against the Browns.

Roethlisberger played in all 12 of the team's remaining games, going 9-3, leading the team to a 12-4 record and a No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.

A win over the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round punched the team's ticket back to the AFC Championship Game for the fifth time in 10 years. After a New York Jets upset win over the No. 1 seed New England Patriots, the AFC title game again was played in Pittsburgh.

A win at frigid Heinz Field over the Jets and it was back to the Super Bowl for Roethlisberger and the Steelers for the third time in six seasons.

Super Bowl XLV
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Steelers fell short of a record seventh Super Bowl, losing to Aaron Rodgers, Pittsburgh-native Mike McCarthy, and the Green Bay Packers.

This was the most recent Super Bowl appearance for the Steelers, who have not played in the title game since 2011.

Setting records at Heinz Field

The 2014 season would be one of Roethlisberger's best, statistically.

Roethlisberger passed for 4,952 yards in the 2014 season, which coincided with one of Antonio Brown's best seasons, when the receiver had 1,698 yards.

In Week 8, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts would come to town, with Roethlisberger and Luck both slinging the ball across the field for nearly 1,000 yards combined.

Indianapolis Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 26: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers drops back to pass during the game against the Indianapolis Colts on September 26, 2014 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Roethlisberger set a Steelers record that day, passing for 522 yards, a franchise single-game record.

Big Ben and Brown

While 2014 was a big season for Ben and Brown, it was just one of many during a several-year period while the two racked up big numbers for the black and gold.

From the 2013 season through the 2018 season, Brown eclipsed the 1,000 mark each year, totaling 9,145 yards, averaging 1,524 per year.

Roethlisberger passed for more than 26,000 yards and 127 touchdowns in that timeframe, averaging almost 4,400 yards per season.

AFC Championship - Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates with Antonio Brown #84 after a touchdown by DeAngelo Williams #34 during the second quarter against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Steelers reached the Divisional Round in 2015, falling to the Broncos in Denver, before getting back to the AFC Championship Game in 2016, coming short of getting back to the Super Bowl at the hands of the New England Patriots, yet again.

Beating up on the Browns and Bengals

One constant for Ben Roethlisberger throughout his career was the success he had when facing the teams from the state he grew up in.

During Roethlisberger's 18-year career, when playing the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, Roethlisberger was more often than not on the winning end of games.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stiff arms Briean Boddy-Calhoun #20 of the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

In 68 games against the two opponents, Roethlisberger finished his career with a record of 54-13-1.

Roethlisberger had specific success on the road against the two teams, when playing in his home state of Ohio, going 27-6-1 as a visitor in Cleveland and Cincinnati.

A major elbow injury

Roethlisberger's career would come into question when an injury that required surgery sidelined him for nearly a full season.

During the second game of the season against the Seattle Seahawks, Roethlisberger left the game with an apparent elbow injury.

The following day, the team announced that Roethlisberger underwent elbow surgery and that he would miss the remainder of the season.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 06: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers talks to head coach Mike Tomlin during the game against the Baltimore Ravens on October 6, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Doctors told Roethlisberger he would either need to have the surgery to repair his elbow or he faced retirement. He would return for the 2020 season.

Comeback from injury

After missing almost the entire 2019 season following elbow surgery, Roethlisberger returned for the 2020 season with hopes of leading the Steelers and still contending for the franchise's seventh Super Bowl.

In his return from injury, he passed for more than 3,800 yards, leading the Steelers to an 11-0 record before falling in four of the team's final five games, ending their regular season with a 12-4 record.

The Steelers faced AFC North Division rival Cleveland in the Wild Card round at Heinz Field, and the game seemed doomed from the start.

On the first play of the game, the ball was snapped over Roethlisberger's head and the Browns scored a defensive touchdown. A comeback effort fell short, with Cleveland winning the game, 48-37.

Browns Steelers Football
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) sits on the bench next to center Maurkice Pouncey (53) following a 48-37 loss to the Cleveland Browns in an NFL wild-card playoff football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

One of the lasting images of the game and the moment was Roethlisberger sitting on the bench next to center Maurkice Pouncey, who announced his retirement at the end of the season.

'One last time'

Leading into the final weeks of the 2021 season, it was becoming more and more clear that the end of the road for Roethlisberger's career was approaching.

Ahead of the Steelers' Week 17 game against Cleveland, Roethlisberger acknowledged that it would likely be his final game in front of the fans at Heinz Field.

On Monday Night Football, it was Ben's night. Roethlisberger led the team to a win over Cleveland, and as the game ended, it was an emotional night for Big Ben and for all of Steeler Nation.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 03: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on after his final game at Heinz Field where he defeated the Cleveland Browns 26-14 on January 03, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

After the game, Roethlisberger said he wasn't expecting to get another chance to take the field at the end of the game, but mentioned how there's no better play in football as an offensive player than to be able to take a knee, saying, "I'm glad I got to do it one last time."

From a moment sitting on the bench by himself, to a victory lap around Heinz Field, to an emotional embrace with his family, Roethlisberger's last game in Pittsburgh couldn't have ended in a better way.

Not done yet

While the Steelers were a longshot to qualify for the playoffs, on the final day of the regular season, the Steelers found a way to get in -- with some help.

The Steelers rallied to come from behind to beat the Ravens on the road in Baltimore, winning on a Chris Boswell field goal in overtime.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JANUARY 09: Pittsburgh Steelers fans hold up signs for Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter in the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

Two more things needed to happen for the Steelers to get into the playoffs, however.

The Jaguars, with only two wins on the season, beat the Colts, who needed to win to make the playoffs.

The Steelers' playoff hopes were increasing, with the remaining only thing needing to happen -- anything but a tie on Sunday Night Football between the Chargers and Raiders. Las Vegas led by 15 points in the fourth quarter, with Los Angeles coming back to tie the game and send it overtime.

A Las Vegas field goal as overtime expired punched the Steelers' postseason ticket, setting Pittsburgh up for a Wild Card Weekend matchup with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Wiped out in the Wild Card round

Roethlisberger's final game in a Steelers uniform ended with a loss in Kansas City, falling to the defending AFC Champion Chiefs, by a score of 42-21.

Going into the game, Roethlisberger was coy, saying "we probably aren't supposed to be here" and his mid-week comments were ultimately accurate.

The Steelers offense sputtered through the game, unable to put points on the board until late, while the Chiefs offensive juggernaut put five touchdowns on the board in just over ten minutes of game time.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 16: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts as he walks off the field after being defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs 42-21 in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

In the loss, Roethlisberger threw for 215 yards, passing Joe Montana and Brett Favre, moving into third place on the NFL's list of all-time playoff passing yards.


Less than two weeks after the Steelers' season was ended in Kansas City, Roethlisberger announced he was retiring from football.

"The time has come to clean out my locker, hang up my cleats, and continue to be all I can be for my wife and children," Roethlisberger said in a video. "I retire from football a truly grateful man."

Tell us below! More coverage of Ben's retirement announcement >>

Posted by KDKA-TV | CBS Pittsburgh on Thursday, January 27, 2022
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