Ben Roethlisberger hopes his kids will remember the surreal night at Heinz Field, but he's already thinking about the Baltimore Ravens

Roethlisberger played his last game in Pittsburgh, at least it seems so. It was a win and he could come full circle with the Steelers where he started his journey.

PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger finally returned to earth two days after an emotional victory at the Monday Night Football in what was probably his last game in Heinz Field.

“He probably won’t until today,” the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback joked Wednesday morning. “Tuesday was still very special. You wake up and you realize what this week is like. It’s Baltimore week. It makes it fun.”

Roethlisberger, who assured reporters last week that “all the signs” pointed to the 26-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns being his last home game, agreed to be overwhelmed by the number of people who reached out to share messages with him. as he prepares for his likely departure from the organization after 18 years as a franchise quarterback for the Los Steelers.

“Surreal. My family and I feel a lot of love, and we are very grateful for all the fans, former teammates, the many, many notes that were written on social media, the text messages we received, the calls,” he said. . “It’s really hard to put into words. I think one of the most special things about that night is that my children are old enough to remember it. It was something that I will cherish and remember forever, and I think they will too. I can’t thank you. enough to everyone who made that night so special. “

To Roethlisberger the victory against the Browns reminded him of the victory of Jerome bettis at Super Bowl XL, organized in Detroit, his hometown, in his last game as Steeler.

“It was magical what happened on Monday night,” reiterated Roethlisberger. “I’m sure Jerome would tell you the same thing. It’s the magic of how you can end things. Obviously, we have another game, but speaking of that game at home, it was against Cleveland, which is the closest thing to my hometown in the world. AFC North, a team we’ve played against so many times, at Heinz Field. “

“I am so thankful to everyone, all my teammates who went out of their way and got something extra. I was so proud and grateful for Naj [Najee Harris] and the way he played and finished that game for us. “

After receiving a long post-match ovation, Roethlisberger met his family in front of the tunnel and hugged his children and wife before walking arm in arm with them off the field.

“That they know and understand what is happening is very good. My youngest son is 5 years old. I don’t remember much about when I was 5, but there are probably one or two things we can all remember from when we were very young. I really believe and hope this is one of those things. I know the older one will, and my daughter will. For them to understand what dad did and for them to go fight and compete and win and give everything they have, I hope it’s something they understand and it happens to them too. “

Before walking through the tunnel with his family, Roethlisberger circled part of Heinz Field, greeting fans and soaking up the electric atmosphere created by his farewell.

This week, though, Roethlisberger isn’t planning the same kind of send-off in the crowd at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium after his final regular-season game.

“Not unless [Terrell] Suggs want to join me, “he said laughing.

The Steelers (8-7-1) still have a shot at making the playoffs, but they need to beat division rival Ravens (8-8) to keep that little hope alive. Pittsburgh activated six reserve / COVID-19 roster players Wednesday before the end of the season: offensive tackle Zach Banner, linebacker Devin Bush, defensive back Arthur Maulet, running back Anthony McFarland Jr., linebacker Joe Schobert and defensive end Chris Wormley.

For Cam HeywardThe key to avoiding the emotional hangover from Monday’s win is to keep celebrating Roethlisberger.

“After the last game, it’s going to be another farewell tour for Ben,” Heyward said Wednesday. “We have to keep playing. I don’t think there will be a lot of physical demands during the week, but we have to do our best on Sunday.”

It’s a moment to close the circle: Roethlisberger’s likely last NFL game will come in the same spot where he first started in 2004, when he replaced an injured Tommy Maddox. The Steelers lost that Week 2 game 30-13, but it was Roethlisberger’s only regular-season loss as a rookie. He completed 12 of 20 attempts for 176 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

“The first game I played in the NFL was there,” he recalled. “And there was Ed Reed and [Haloti] Ngata, Suggs, [Ray] Lewis. You could go through the entire roster, and it was really tough playing against those guys. I think there is great respect. It will be great”.