Ben: 'This could be it'

Ben Roethlisberger will head into Monday night's game against the Cleveland Browns knowing that this might be his last game at Heinz Field in the regular season.

There has been talk over the past month that Roethlisberger will retire after the season, and while he didn't guarantee anything, he did indicate this could be his last regular season home game.

"I don't ever speak in definites or guarantees," said Roethlisberger, who is in his 18th season. "That's just not what I've ever done or who I am. 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 season, signs are pointing that way this could be it."

Roethlisberger is ranked third in the NFL for most wins in one stadium in NFL history, with 91 wins under his belt at Heinz Field. He wants nothing more than to add one on Monday night.

"I don't speak in guarantees or definites," said Roethlisberger, who is in his 18th season after being drafted in the first round in 2004. "I'll address the definite answer at some point down the road, but like I said, my focus is winning this game. If it is indeed my last regular season game there, 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, the best venue. What better way to have a last regular season potential game than on Monday Night Football against a division opponent.

"It's just special. I got a lot of focus on still for this year and this game and that's got to be it right now."

Roethlisberger said it's been a lot of things that have led him to this path, and he hasn't given up on the ultimate goal.

"It's 18 years, it's almost half my life I've given to this city, this team and the fans," said Roethlisberger. "The funny thing I know that I still have it in the tank to go out there this week and next week and give it everything I have to do everything I can to get us in into the postseason. That's always the ultimate goal, to win a Lombardi, and that's still the goal. We're not out of this thing yet."

Roethlisberger admitted the emotions have already started to hit him, even saying he was just doing what he could to get through talking with the media. But he is trying to put the emotions aside and focus on the game.

"The emotions will start to kick in," said Roethlisberger. "They already have when you think about it. But I think I'm able to put those emotions on the back burner because of the focus we have to win this game. This is a team that's hungry. I mean, it's the Browns, the division opponent, so they're hungry to come in and get a win, too.

"I can't sit here all week and just be nostalgic and think about everything that my career has been when I've got to focus on this game, because that's the most important. This is the most important game of the season for us right now."

Roethlisberger expects to have plenty of friends and family at the game on Monday night, something that has been the case for most of his career, and what he wants more than anything is to deliver win No. 92.

"I want to win the football game. That's all that matters to me. That's always been my thing," said Roethlisberger. "I found out last week I've got 91 wins in Heinz Field and broke a tie with Brett Favre for quarterbacks in one facility. To me that will always mean more than yards and touchdowns. Wins, because that's -- I am sure you can go back to my very first press conference with some of you guys that were here, all I ever said I want to do is win.

"And that's what is most important to me, and so that is what's going to be most important. I don't care if it's 3-0. I just want to win a football game, because it's so important for our season right now."

There is still that feeling of letting it all soak in around him, though, even with the game being the greatest focus. When Roethlisberger takes the field on Monday night, he will look around and say 'I love you,' like he always does, a message for his family, but a message a lot of people will be saying back to him this time.  

"I'm letting my family know I love them and thinking about them," said Roethlisberger. "My daughter loves to do it back and everyone else does in the family. It's also a little bit like I love you all fans, too, because it means a lot, these fans.

"I've been a person that I hope that the fans will say that I never quit. I've given everything I have. Shoot, last week I was begging to get back in this game down 30 with nine minutes to go. Coach (Mike Tomlin) let me go in that series but not the next one. Minnesota down, whatever, I just don't know how to quit. I'm going to give everything I have to this game, this team, this season, and just really enjoy what I think, like I said, is the best fans and the best place to play in all of football."

Roethlisberger said heading into the season he didn't know where things were going to lead
"I was excited for this season. I still am because it's not over," said Roethlisberger. "We're not having this because it's all over. We've got a really important game this week, which is going to be the most important game of the season.

"Coming in I felt like this team was special. We knew we were going to have some obstacles to overcome, and we've had them, and we've had some unforeseen ones which is what the NFL is all about. Coming into this season I've always been one that has wanted to fulfill my obligation to the team with contracts. I don't have a contract next season, so I guess the writing was on the wall from them, but kind of all of us together.

"I wouldn't say that I had my mind made up by any means, but I had my mind made up coming into this season that I was going to give it everything I have to try and win a Super Bowl."

If this is his last game at Heinz Field, if the postseason doesn't deliver a home game, then there might be nothing more fitting than it being against an AFC North opponent.

"It's an AFC North opponent. It doesn't matter which of the ones we're playing. It's a North opponent," said Roethlisberger. "We're still in it. I know if they pull up the polls, we're on the outside of it, but if we win two, we take care of our business, and I know some things have to happen and we have a chance to have another home game.

"It's always special to play these guys. Monday Night Football, everyone will be watching. There is always a little extra juice when it's AFC North football."

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