Ben Roethlisberger is preparing as if Monday night's game against the Cleveland Browns will be his final regular-season home tilt at Heinz Field.
"I don't ever speak in definites or guarantees, that's not what I've ever done or who I am," the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback said Thursday. "But, 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 seasons, signs are pointing that way this could be it."
While most expected the 39-year-old Big Ben to retire following the season, Thursday's comments are the first the QB has made publicly indicating he will hang it up after the 2021 season. Earlier this month, he noted he'd talk about retirement after the season.
Roethlisberger stopped short of guaranteeing retirement, noting he's focusing on Monday's matchup as the 7-7-1 Steelers attempt to guarantee a non-losing season. Pittsburgh remains alive for a playoff berth but would need help along the way.
"I'll address the definite answer for that at some point down the road," he said. "But like I said, my focus is winning this game. If it is indeed my last regular-season game here, it's going to be one of the most important games of my career. I've been so blessed to play in front of the best fans in all of sports at the best venue, and what better way to have a last potential regular-season game than Monday Night Football against a division opponent. It's just special. So, the long-winded answer is I got a lot of focus on still for this year and this game, and that's got to be it right now."
The Steelers have finished with a .500 record or better in each of Roethlisberger's previous 17 seasons.
Big Ben's 91 wins at Heinz Field are 82 more than the next closest QB (Kordell Stewart, 9) since the stadium opened in 2001. His 163 career wins with the Steelers are fifth-most all-time since at least 1950, and the most by any QB to spend his entire career with one team -- only Tom Brady (219 with the Patriots) has won more games with one team than Roethlisberger. He's 91-32 at home in his career -- fourth-most home wins with one team in NFL history.
Roethlisberger is the Steelers' all-time leader in QB wins (163), home wins (91) and pass TDs (416).
The future Hall of Famer has been the face of the franchise since his rookie season in 2004. Under Roethlisberger's guidance, the Steelers have won 13 playoff games and two Super Bowls. Only four quarterbacks in NFL history have won more Lombardi Trophies than Big Ben, including former Steelers HOFer Terry Bradshaw (4).