Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield paid tribute to Pittsburgh Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger as the two prepared to face off in Monday Night Football.
Roethlisberger said this week that “all signs” are that the clash will be his last regular season game at Heinz Field.
The 39-year-old is set to retire after the 2021 season amid reports he has told former teammates and franchise members that he plans to end his illustrious career.
The Steelers big, a two-time Super Bowl winner, has given a strong indication that his playing days are almost over as Pittsburgh struggles to squeeze into the playoffs without explicitly confirming he will retire.
And Mayfield, who was asked about the comments, has revealed he’s a big fan of Roethlisberger even though he will look to turn down the veteran’s offer for a final playoff appearance.
“There are a lot of things that I admire about his game and respect about it, to be honest with you,” Mayfield said.
“His game, he extends the games, but he also trusts his guys completely.
“He trusts his receivers, his tight ends and all those guys to make plays for him, and he’s done it consistently no matter who’s been with him.
“When it comes to the fourth quarter or the comeback and sparks for a comeback and when a game needs to be played, he’s always been doing it for a long, long time.
“It’s something you can’t teach. He just had it, and that’s why he’s been successful for so long.”
Pro Bowler Roethlisberger has spent an incredible 18 years with the Steelers and has 163 career wins to his name, an NFL record for players who have spent their entire careers with one team.
Tom Brady is the only quarterback to win more games with a single franchise, racking up 219 wins for the New England Patriots.
The Browns are 7-8 while the Steelers are 7-7-1, but neither team is incapacitated in a competitive AFC North.
Mayfield added: “With everything in our division and the current situation for both teams, whatever Ben’s situation is, I think it’s going to be a great environment.
“To add on top of that, everything he’s given to this franchise over the years and the success that it has always had for a long, long time, I have nothing but respect for Ben.
“I expect an even better environment. Both teams will play for the probability of the playoffs at hand.
“It’s just one of those things that it all lines up where this game matters a lot, but for us we have to run it like any other game – one game at a time and do our job at the best possible level. we can. “
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski added of Roethlisberger: “He’s obviously a great player, but I’m really focused on trying to defend him on Monday night. He’s still playing at a very high level. . “
Remarkably, the Steelers have won 17 straight regular-season home games against the Browns, the third-longest home winning streak against a team in NFL history, although Cleveland won in the playoffs last season.
Pittsburgh has scored under 20 points in eight of its 15 games this season, the most of those games in a single season since 2003, when they had under 20 points nine times.
Roethlisberger, however, is 24-2-1 in his 27 career starts against the Browns.
Cleveland’s last three games have been a 24-22 win over the Ravens, a 16-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders and a 24-22 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day.
This is only the second time in Browns history that they have played three straight games with a two-point margin or more after a similar streak in 2014.