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Big Ben until the very end

Ben Roethlisberger final 605 regular-season passes helped the 18-year Steelers' quarterback continue to climb the NFL's all-time ladder.

His 390 completions in 2021 left Roethlisberger fifth in NFL history in that department (5,440).

His 3,740 passing yards also pushed his career total to No. 5 on the NFL's all-time list (64,088).

And Roethlisberger's 22 touchdown passes pumped his career figure to No.8 in the history of the game (418).

Following is a look back at five of the more memorable passes of Roethlisberger's final season:

No. 5: Dec. 9 at Minnesota: All He Could Do
This one wasn't even complete and it was still something to see.

First-and-10 from the Vikings' 12-yard line, just three seconds left in regulation and the Steelers behind, 36-28. Roethlisberger got the ball to tight end Pat Freiermuth just before taking a shot in the pocket from defensive tackle Armon Watts. The ball found Freiermuth just behind linebacker Anthony Barr and just in front of safeties Harrison Smith and Xavier Woods in the end zone. Freiermuth had the ball momentarily … until Smith knocked it away.

That's how close Roethlisberger came to bringing the Steelers back to within a two-point conversion of tying a game they had trailed 29-0 in the third quarter.

No. 4: Sept. 12 at Buffalo: Finishing The Job
The Steelers led the Bills, 20-13, with 3:08 left in regulation, but faced a third-and-8 and the Buffalo 41. It was time to make a play or risk letting a season-opening upset slip away by punting the ball away.

Roethlisberger delivered the former, a perfectly-timed, perfectly-placed strike to wide receiver Chase Claypool that gained 14 yards on a crossing route and achieved a critical first down.

Claypool had no choice but to catch it.

The next three plays combined to gain 0 yards, but the Bills wound up exhausting all three of their timeouts. And the Steelers were still close enough for kicker Chris Boswell to deliver a 45-yard field goal that established a 10-point lead with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter.

The Bills countered with a field goal late, but the game ended with Roethlisberger taking a couple of knees and celebrating a 23-16 victory.

No. 3 Oct. 10 Denver: Grand Opening
The Steelers got the ball to start what would become a 27-19 win over the Broncos.

Roethlisberger helped see to it that the Steelers would never trail by finding wide receiver Diontae Johnson for a 50-yard touchdown on the Steelers' sixth offensive play.

The Broncos showed blitz prior to the snap on third-and-7 from the 50. Roethlisberger apparently saw as much, and that he had Johnson one-on-one against cornerback Kyle Fuller as the widest of the three wide receivers deployed on the right side of the formation.

Roethlisberger reacted as if he knew where he was going to go before the play began. He planted at the end of a three-step drop and stepped into a throw that found Johnson in stride ahead of Fuller's dive at the Denver 14.

Johnson coasted into the end zone.

It would end up being Roethlisberger's longest touchdown pass of the season.

No. 2: Oct. 31 at Cleveland: No, Over Here
It was fourth-and-goal from the Browns' 2 with 11:08 left in the fourth quarter and the Steelers trailed, 10-9.

They also didn't have a kicker, thanks to Chris Boswell having been knocked out of the game on a fake field goal attempt late in the second quarter.

So the Steelers were going for it.

They broke the huddle and lined up with running back Najee Harris to Roethlisberger's right. But game-wrecking defensive end Myles Garrett was on the other side of the formation, so Roethlisberger directed Harris to switch sides, just in case a little help on pass protection was required.

It was, and Harris delivered it by helping offensive tackle Dan Moore Jr. keep Garrett off Roethlisberger. That allowed enough time for Roethlisberger to find Freiermuth in the back of the end zone, where he went up with safety Ronnie Harrison Jr., tipped the pass and then grabbed the carom while getting two feet down in bounds.

The catch would stand up as the game-winning touchdown in a 15-10 triumph.

Big Ben at his pre-snap, one-step-ahead-of-the-defense best.

No. 1: Jan. 9 at Baltimore: Stayin' Alive
The season came down to fourth-and-8 from the Ravens' 41 with 2:28 left in overtime. If the Steelers tied or lost their rematch with the Ravens it wouldn't matter what Indianapolis did at Jacksonville or what happened in the Chargers-Raiders game, there would be no playoffs.

Roethlisberger kept the dream alive by finding a way to navigate a pass around leaping, 6-foot-8, 300-pound defensive tackle Calais Campbell and into the hands of wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, who backpedaled across the line to gain and fell to the ground after a 10-yard pickup to the Ravens' 31.

Boswell's game-winning, 36-yard field goal came four plays later.

Coupled with the Jaguars' upset of the Colt and the Chargers and Raiders finally deciding not to play to a tie late Sunday night, Roethlisberger's final regular-season completion helped finish off a 16-13 decision and ensure one last trip to the postseason.