The Star Democrat

LAST STOP?

Roethlisbe­rger ready for regular-season finale against longtime rival Ravens

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisbe­rger acknowledg­ed his emotions were still high in the hours following a 12-point win against Cleveland on Monday night.

The Steelers quarterbac­k insisted Wednesday morning he’s solely focused on Sunday’s regular-season finale at Baltimore, a game that will play a role in determinin­g Pittsburgh’s playoff fate. But the 18-year veteran allowed himself to reflect one more time on his final game at Heinz Field.

“My family and I just felt so much love,” Roethlisbe­rger

said. “We were so thankful — from the fans, former teammates, the texts, and all of the many notes that were written on social media. It’s really hard to put into words. Like I said after the game, I wish I could bottle it up and keep it forever.”

Roethlisbe­rger tried his best to soak it in with a victory lap around the stadium after Monday’s win against Cleveland. He also shared a moment with his wife Ashley and the couple’s three children before walking into the tunnel and out of sight.

Roethlisbe­rger said it was special that his children are old enough to be able to remember the night.

“For them to know and understand what’s going on is pretty cool,” Roethlisbe­rger said. “It’s something that I’ll cherish forever and I think they will, too.”

Now, Roethlisbe­rger will play his final regular-season game Sunday at Baltimore, the place where it all began.

During Roethlisbe­rger’s rookie year, Tommy Maddox entered the season as the starter, but he hurt his elbow during a Week 2 game at Baltimore. Roethlisbe­rger, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2004 draft, replaced Maddox and never looked back.

But the rivalry runs deep with the Ravens. And Roethlisbe­rger vividly recalls the battles against Ravens defenses that frequently featured Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and more. The Ravens plan to honor Suggs at Sunday’s game.

“You never walk out of those games feeling fresh,” said Roethlisbe­rger, who is

 ?? AP PHOTO ?? Steelers quarterbac­k Ben Roethlisbe­rger greets fans after Monday night’s 26-14 victory over Cleveland.
AP PHOTO Steelers quarterbac­k Ben Roethlisbe­rger greets fans after Monday night’s 26-14 victory over Cleveland.

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