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Big Ben To Play 'Likely' Final Game At Heinz Field On Monday

By John P. Wise/KDKA-TV

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The clock is winding down on Big Ben's time with the Steelers.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters Thursday that while he doesn't speak in definites, Monday's home game likely will be his last at Heinz Field. It was his first public indication that he will retire after this season.

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The Steelers, 7-7-1, welcome AFC North rival Cleveland on Monday night, as both teams are outsiders battling for a wild-card spot.

"I don't ever speak in definites or guarantees," he said. "That's just not what I've ever done or who I am. But, you know, looking at the bigger picture, I would say that all signs are pointing to this could be it. Regular season, that is. I know we still have a chance to potentially get a playoff game there if things fall our way and we take care of business and things have to happen. But in the grand scheme of things, in terms of regular season, signs are pointing that way. This could be it."

Roethlisberger has been the Steelers starting quarterback since his rookie year in 2004, leading the team to three Super Bowls, and winning two of them. To date, he's thrown for 63,721 yards, fifth on the NFL all-time list, and has thrown 416 touchdown passes, eighth all-time.

"It's been great," Steelers fan Ken Kniess told KDKA-TV on Thursday. "It's been a real good experience watching Ben."

Big Ben's three 500-yard, regular-season passing games are an NFL record, as are his four overall 500-yard passing games. He most recently turned the trick in Pittsburgh's playoff loss to Cleveland last year.

In the opinions of most experts, Big Ben is a lock to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And some local fans in the Strip District on Thursday expressed their support for No. 7.

"I think he's had a good run, and I wish him nothing but the best of luck in the future," Steelers fan Lisa DeVita said.

The Ohio native has a career record of 163-81-1, and if past performance is any indication of how things might go Monday, the Steelers' chances of beating Cleveland, 7-8, are pretty good. Pittsburgh is 29-6-1 against the Browns in the Roethlisberger era, including 17-1 at home.

Pittsburgh won in Cleveland, 15-10, in the teams' first meeting this season, back on Halloween.

On Dec. 4, Big Ben told former Steelers and others in the organization that this season likely would be his last with the team.

ESPN NFL insider Field Yates tweeted Thursday that if Roethlisberger, who doesn't have a contract for next year, retires after this season, he will have spent all 18 years of his NFL career as a Steeler, which would be the longest tenure for any quarterback in NFL history with the same team. Big Ben's 163 career wins are No.  5 all-time, and No. 2 for a quarterback with one team, according to Tom Brady won 219 games with New England before bolting for Tampa Bay following the 2019 season.

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