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After Further Review: 'A special place'

It hasn't been the type of season the Steelers will soon want to repeat.

Nor should it be one that's quickly forgotten, even at 8-7-1.

Win No. 8 was for Big Ben, a 26-14, sweep-completing triumph over Cleveland on Monday night in the franchise quarterback's Heinz Field farewell.

It was everything Ben Roethlisberger wanted it to be, because the Steelers won and because of the adulation and gratitude an emotional crowd of 63,624 bestowed upon the 18-year veteran from start to finish and beyond.

It was everything Roethlisberger's teammates wanted for him, as well.

The way Roethlisberger was embraced resonated.

Don't think for a minute it didn't.

"It's special," T.J. Watt maintained in the immediate aftermath. "You pour so much into this, so much into this. So much goes in behind the scenes, the sacrifices. And it's not just yourself, it's your family. When people truly take a moment to acknowledge it and appreciate it like tonight, I don't think people truly understand how special it was. Not only for him but for us, to see how well he was received and treated.

"Pittsburgh's a really, really special place and tonight's a great night to show that."

Watt's usually more X's & O's than emotional at the podium, but that wasn't going to cut it this time and he knew as much.

He seemed determined to make sure those in attendance at Heinz Field understood the impact of what had taken place.

Cam Heyward did, too.

"We've got loyal fans," he acknowledged. "When they get an opportunity to celebrate a player like that, they relish it."

There hasn't been as much to relish this season as anyone would have initially hoped.

The win over the Browns at least kept the Steelers' playoff hopes alive.

But even Roethlisberger acknowledged those remain "slim."

Given that the Steelers will be depending on 2-14 Jacksonville to beat 9-7 Indianapolis this Sunday, he may have been overstating it.

But, if nothing else, a franchise icon was appropriately honored.

There's also this:

At 8-7-1 the Steelers clinched their 18th consecutive non-losing season since they went 6-10 in 2003.

Of the first 17 of those, 13 have been winning seasons, something the current campaign still has a chance to become this Sunday in Baltimore, even if the Colts beat the Jaguars or the Chargers and Raiders play to an unlikely tie and Week 18 proves to be the end of the road after all.

In the event that, too, isn't appreciated as much as it ought to be, understand that the team with the next-longest such streak is the Chiefs (nine straight seasons).

Roethlisberger on Monday night became the only player in NFL history to have played on a team with a record of .500 or better in 18 consecutive campaigns.

And Mike Tomlin became the only coach in NFL history to have begun his career with 15 consecutive non-losing seasons (11 of those have been winning ones, 11 and counting pending the result against the Ravens).

Such streaks are far from the ultimate.

For this quarterback, this coach, this organization and this fan base that has to include a Lombardi.

But that doesn't mean they aren't worth recognizing and appreciating.

Even in the wake of a special evening on which there was more than enough recognition and appreciation to go around.

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