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'Where did that come from?'

Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL-leading 5,129 passing yards were accompanied by a league-leading 16 interceptions.

The latter, to an extent, is part of the cost of doing business the way Roethlisberger does it for the Steelers.

“I’m a guy that’s gonna take chances,” he assessed after his 2018 season had been completed. “I could probably not throw some of the passes that have gotten intercepted and take a sack or not force some balls here and there that end up being good plays, but that’s the way I play the game.”

It was a lot more spectacular than maddening this season, as Roethlisberger’s career-high 34 touchdown passes will attest.

One of the most memorable of those, a 38-yard strike to wide receiver Antonio Brown on Dec. 2 against the Chargers, was representative of Roethlisberger at his best.

He initially held the ball behind ample protection after completing a five-step drop, eventually flushed left to buy a little more time and then finally hit Brown running across the back of the end zone away from double-coverage.

“Sometimes you want to say, ‘Where did that come from?’” offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner observed in the wake of the Chargers game. “And then other times you’re like, ‘Where did that come from?’ It’s just a matter of how you say it.

“That throw he made the other day (against the Chargers), not many people are making those throws. And the ones that are, you know their names, (Aaron) Rodgers, (Tom) Brady, (Drew) Brees, we’re talking about the best players in the game.

“And then sometimes you just say, ‘C’mon Ben, you can’t make that play every time, sometimes it bites you.’”

The Steelers trust Roethlisberger’s instincts and his ability to execute throws a lot of other quarterbacks wouldn’t attempt enough that they’ve commenced negotiations on a contract extension for Roethlisberger, Steelers president Art Rooney II confirmed last week in a conference call with Steelers Nation Unite members.

“We’ve already started talking to him and his representative about extending that contract,” Rooney said. “I think Ben has some good years left. I’d still say he’s close to being in the prime of his career.”

The Steelers also trust Roethlisberger’s experience and his leadership.

“I think he’s able to stand up and, after 15 years of being a leader of this team and caring, I think he’s able to stand up and say ‘my bad,’” Fichtner said. “That’s part of the game, too.

“I’m not afraid to say it. I don’t think he’s afraid to say it. And that’s kind of what we’re hoping to develop amongst our group. If I make a mistake, they make a mistake, hey, I’ll own up to it, to my buddies, my teammates, and I’m gonna try not to make that mistake again.”

Roethlisberger’s 5,000-yard season was historic on a league level as well as in Steelers’ history.

Only Brees (five times), Brady, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Matthew Stafford had eclipsed that milestone previously.

Patrick Mahomes also did so in 2018.

The last of Roethlisberger’s 16 interceptions, conversely, stood as an example of what can happen when you put the ball in the air an NFL-leading 675 times, despite the best of intentions.

Bengals safety Shawn Williams’ 58-yard pick-six in the second quarter of the regular-season finale occurred on a play on which the Steelers were convinced the Bengals had jumped offside.

“Never would have thrown it if I didn’t think we had a free play,” Roethlisberger said. “Sometimes, fluky things happen.

“But we’ve also had some big plays happen when things like that happen.”

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