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Big Ben after 5 INTs: 'Maybe I don't have it anymore'

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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The Jacksonville Jaguars' secondary shook Ben Roethlisberger to his core on Sunday afternoon, picking off the bulky veteran five times. After Pittsburgh's surprising 30-9 home loss, Big Ben caught himself once again questioning his own future in football.

When asked by reporters after the game if he was doing anything differently under center, Roethlisberger replied, "I don't think so, but maybe I am. Maybe I don't have it anymore. I'm not playing well enough."

Two questions later, he course-corrected. Asked if he is doubting his game, Big Ben responded, "Nope. If anybody in this room ever has that doubt, they probably aren't here. You know what I'm saying? Professional athletes shouldn't have doubt."

Roethlisberger's five interceptions were a career-high and the most thrown by a quarterback since Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed six in September 2016. But Big Ben acted unfazed by his career-worst outing.

"Yeah, that's the way the ball bounces sometimes," he said. "When you play this game long enough, you're going to get those games."

A confluence of unfortunate events preceded Big Ben's five-pick affair. A public spat between Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown over the quarterback missing his wide-open star wideout in Pittsburgh's Week 4 victory dominated the headlines leading up to this one. Surrounded by top talent at every position, the quarterback also hasn't had a very consistent statistical season, entering this game having not tossed for over 300 yards and completing just 62 percent of his passes. 

But this also isn't the first time in the last five months that Roethlisberger has publicly suggested he is losing a step and/or that this might be his final season in football. One of the offseason's most overcooked storylines was that Big Ben was seriously considering retirement at the end of the 2016 season and continues to do so.

"Age," Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in July of his reasons for retiring. "It's just, it's 14 years; that's a long time. I think the average life expectancy in the NFL is 3 years, maybe 3.5 now.

"I've been blessed to do this a long time. I think it's just seeing my kids growing up, and in the offseason I love getting to spend time with them, and then I come here and football season just has to take up so much of your time."

On Sunday, it wasn't so much injuries and his health as it was poor performance that inspired Big Ben to consider football mortality in front of scribes.

While we don't expect Roethlisberger to physically quit on the Steelers, who despite the setback are still the runaway favorites to win the AFC North, but it's fair to wonder whether the quarterback's heart is really in this season. After all, once you start talking about retirement, you've already retired.

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