Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger gets wish, ends last game at Heinz Field with win


Roethlisberger was emotional after the potential final game at home.

Ben Roethlisberger was emotional after the win over the Browns. (0:57)

11:52 PM

Ben Roethlisberger faced off against the Cleveland game captains by himself at the center of the field before the game.

The quarterback would normally flank the two captains on the walk to the coin toss, but they stopped short, allowing him to go ahead without them.

When Roethlisberger realized what was happening, he motioned for them to come with him, but the pair hung back. Roethlisberger stood alone at the center of the field for the final coin toss of his career.

It was the kind of gesture that was fitting of the veteran, who said earlier that he preferred to win in his home field.

Roethlisberger's greatest wish was fulfilled by the win against the Cleveland.

The quarterback attempted 34 passes in the first half, the second-most in a first half in his career. The 39-year-old became the first player in the last 40 years with at least 30 pass attempts and less than 100 yards at halftime.

He completed 24 for 46 attempts for 123 yards with a touchdown and an error.

Roethlisberger said after the game that it was probably not the way he wanted it. That's all that matters. It's been the story of my career, not always pretty but we find a way.

In the first half, the Steelers dropped back to pass on 35 of 49 plays for a designed pass percentage of 71%. Until Monday night, they hadn't won a game this season when at least 70% of their plays were designed passes. Roethlisberger has at least 40 pass attempts this season, and the Steelers are 2-7. The only other win was against Seattle.

As he's done throughout the season, Roethlisberger showed flashes of his vintage play, like a pump fake on a pass that found Ray Ray McCloud for a nine-yard gain over the middle in the red zone. He led a second-quarter scoring drive capped by a five-yard touchdown throw to Diontae Johnson.

He had an interception for the 210th time in his career, tying Terry Bradshaw for most in franchise history, and he was also sacked twice. His first half yards per attempt was the lowest of any quarterback this season. In the first half, he averaged 1.4 air yards per completion.

Najee Harris set a new franchise record for rookies with 1,172 rushing yards, but the spotlight was on Roethlisberger in his farewell game.

It was his third 100 yard rushing game, second-most by a Steelers rookies only to Franco Harris' seven. He scored his longest touchdown run of the season with less than a minute to play. Most of the players this season and most by the Steeler in the last 10 seasons had 135 rush yards after contact.

T.J. Watt is on pace for a single-season sack record of 22 as he was instrumental in Monday night's game with a career-high four sacks. The team sacked Mayfield nine times.

Roethlisberger didn't take the field for final warm ups until 46 minutes before the start of the game. He embraced Tull, who took out a full front-page advertisement in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to thank the quarterback after he ran out. Tull wore a black Roethlisberger jersey.

Art Rooney II thanked Roethlisberger for a "great 18 years," on the videoboard, but the team didn't pay much attention to the quarterback. There were no Roethlisberger moments added to the highlight reel during the fourth quarter.

After Roethlisberger was introduced, the fans at the stadium broke out into a chant of "Let's Go Ben" and he sprinted out of the tunnel. The chant rang through the stadium as fans bid farewell to their franchise quarterback.

The quarterback hugged his teammates on the sideline as the crowd chanted, "Thank You Ben." Roethlisberger took the field in victory formation at the end of the game, after a 10 second intercept of Mayfield.

He said he was so thankful for the place. I'm so thankful to be able to call this place home for almost half my life.