NFL

'He has something you cannot teach' – Mayfield pays tribute to Roethlisberger ahead of MNF showdown

By Sports Desk December 31, 2021

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield paid tribute to Pittsburgh Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger as the two players prepared to do battle in Monday Night Football.

Roethlisberger said this week "all the signs" are that the clash will be his last regular-season game at Heinz Field.

The 39-year-old is anticipated to retire after the 2021 season amid reports he has told former team-mates and people within the franchise that he expects to bring his illustrious career to an end.

The Steelers great, a winner of two Super Bowls, gave a strong indication his playing days are almost over as Pittsburgh strive to sneak into the playoffs without explicitly confirming he would retire.

And Mayfield, who was asked about the comments, revealed he was a huge admirer of Roethlisberger even though he will be looking to deny the veteran's bid for a last postseason appearance.

"There is a lot that I admire about his game and respect about it, to be honest with you," said Mayfield.

"His play, he extends plays, but he also trusts his guys thoroughly. 

"He trusts his receivers, tight ends and all of those guys to make plays for him, and he has done it consistently, no matter who has been out there with him. 

"When it comes to fourth quarter or coming back and sparking drives for a comeback and when a play is needed to be made, he has consistently done that for a long, long time. 

"That is something you can't teach. He has just had that, and that is why he has had success for so long."

Six-time Pro Bowler Roethlisberger has spent an incredible 18 years with the Steelers and has 163 career wins to his name, a record in the NFL for players who have spent their entire career with one team.

Tom Brady is the only quarterback to have won more games with a single franchise, racking up 219 victories for the New England Patriots.

The Browns are 7-8 while the Steelers are at 7-7-1, but neither team are out of contention in a competitive AFC North.

Mayfield added: "With everything in our division and the situation at hand for both teams right now, regardless of Ben's situation, I think it will be a great environment. 

"To add on top of that, just everything that he has given to that franchise over the years and the success he has had consistently for a very, very long time, I have nothing but respect for Ben. 

"I am expecting just an even better environment. Both teams to be playing for the likelihood of the playoffs at hand. 

"It is just one of those things that everything is aligning to where this game matters quite a bit, but for us, we need to handle it like any other game – one play at a time and do our job at the best possible level we can."

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski added about Roethlisberger: "Obviously, he is a great player, but I am really focused on trying to defend him Monday night. He is still playing at a really high level."

Remarkably, the Steelers have won 17 straight home regular season games against the Browns, the third-longest home winning streak against one team in NFL history, though Cleveland did win in the playoffs last season.

Pittsburgh have scored fewer than 20 points in eight of their 15 games this season, the most such games in one season since 2003, when they were held below 20 points nine times. 

Roethlisberger, though, has a 24-2-1 record in his 27 career starts against the Browns. 

Cleveland's last three games were a 24-22 win against the Ravens, 16-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders and a 24-22 loss at the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day.

It is only the second time in Browns history that they have played three consecutive games decided by no more than a two-point margin following a similar run in 2014. 

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