Kenny Pickett will get to stay in Pittsburgh, after being selected by the Steelers with the 20th overall pick.

No quarterbacks came off the board in the first 19 picks as defensive players and wide receivers dominated the headlines.

And, given the freedom to choose from what most considered to be an uninspiring litter at quarterback, the Steelers went with a player who already called Heinz Field home.

Pickett excelled in his final year playing for the University of Pittsburgh, leading the Panthers to an 11-3 record and an ACC title.

He completed 67.2 per cent of his passes for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

Arguably the most pro-ready quarterback in the class, Pickett delivered an accurate well-thrown ball on 82.70 percent of his passes last season, the highest ratio of anyone in the draft, according to Stats Perform data. His pickable pass rate of 2.11 percent was also best in class.

Pickett excels at throwing with timing and anticipation, frequently hitting his receivers in stride to maximise their potential to create yards after the catch.

He can make throws with pressure in his face and moves well in the pocket to escape pressure while also succeeding at breaking structure and creating with his legs.

A lack of elite arm strength to make deep throws outside the numbers is the concern with Pickett, but the Steelers were clearly not overly worried about that deficiency, catapulting him into a likely quarterback competition with Mitchell Trubisky in the first year of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins has died at the age of 24 after being struck by a car on Saturday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the 2019 first-round pick was hit by a vehicle in South Florida, where he had been training with other Steelers quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin read: "I am devastated and at a loss for words with the unfortunate passing of Dwayne Haskins.

"He quickly became part of our Steelers family upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and was one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community. Dwayne was a great team-mate, but even more so a tremendous friend to so many. I am truly heartbroken.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Kalabrya, and his entire family during this difficult time."

Haskins signed with the Steelers in 2021 after being released by the Washington Commanders late in the 2020 season.

Washington selected Haskins with the 15th pick of the 2019 draft after his stellar 2018 season with Ohio State, throwing 50 touchdowns to eight interceptions in that campaign.

Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said in a statement: "I am absolutely heartbroken to hear of the news of the passing of Dwayne Haskins Jr. Dwayne was a talented young man who had a long life ahead of him.

"This is a very sad time and I am honestly at a loss for words. I know I speak for the rest of our team in saying he will be sorely missed. Our entire team is sending our heartfelt condolences and thoughts and prayers to the Haskins family at this time."

Washington co-owners Dan and Tara Snyder added: "We are devastated to hear the news of the tragic passing of Dwayne Haskins Jr. He was a young man with a tremendous amount of potential who had an infectious personality.

"To say we are heartbroken is an understatement. Our hearts and prayers are with the members of the Dwayne's family and all of those who knew him and loved him."

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin feels lucky to add an asset as valuable as new senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores.

Flores was fired from his role as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in January following the franchise's first back-to-back winning seasons since 2003, finishing 10-6 in 2020 and 9-8 in 2021.

During the fallout of his stint in Miami, Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL, the Dolphins, Denver Broncos and New York Giants.

In it, he accused the Broncos and Giants of flawed hiring processes, alleging the two franchises only offered interviews to comply with the league's 'Rooney Rule', which requires teams to interview candidates of colour for head coaching and senior operation vacancies.

The class action brought by Flores alleged the NFL "remains rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of black head coaches, coordinators and general managers".

Flores also alleged he was offered $100,000 per loss by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross in 2019 in an effort to secure a better draft position.

All parties have strenuously denied Flores' allegations.

Flores was confirmed as the Steelers' new defensive assistant and linebackers coach last month, and Tomlin acknowledged that his decision to offer him a role was partly influenced by a desire to ensure he was not exiled from the league.

"I just didn't want him to feel like he was on an island," he told reporters on Sunday. 

"From a coaching fraternity standpoint, I owed him that. I was in position to provide that. I think that started our interactions and conversations.

"Over the course of those discussions, particularly when it became evident he was not going to get a head job, then I think the natural discussion began. 

"It really ran its course rather quickly, to be quite honest with you, because it doesn't require a lot of time to come to the realisation that you can use a Brian Flores on your staff."

Tomlin believes Flores will bring a level of experience that will help shape decision-making on every level.

"Senior defensive assistant and linebacker coach is his title, but there's help that he's going to help us and help me, in particular," he added. 

"I love sharpening my sword on his and gaining a perspective that his experiences provide, that wise counsel.

"We're talking about a myriad of things. Whether it's calendar, whether it's taking care of players, whether it's the acquisition or evaluation of talent, it's been fun to have him. His contributions are going to be significant."

JuJu Smith-Schuster has confirmed the prospect of playing with Patrick Mahomes was a key factor in his decision to join the Kansas City Chiefs.

The one-time Pro Bowler had spent his entire NFL career to date with the Pittsburgh Steelers but announced his departure on Friday.

On social media, Mahomes soon welcomed the arrival in Kansas City of a wide receiver with 323 catches for 3,855 receiving yards and 26 receiving touchdowns across 63 games in five seasons.

After Smith-Schuster secured a one-year, $10.75million deal, Mahomes sent him a Twitter message, which read: "Turn me up brotha!!!"

His new Chiefs team-mate replied: "Can't wait to get after it my boy!"

But that was not their first conversation around the move, as Smith-Schuster revealed when facing the media as a Chief for the first time.

"I had talked to a couple of guys, obviously, to make this happen. I talked to Pat a couple of times. I'd talked to Pat multiple times before even all this. I've known Pat for a while now, so, yeah, of course.

"You go into free agency, and you find out who's going to be throwing you the ball next year. It came down to Pat, and I'm excited. I'm happy with my decision."

Taken in the second round in the 2017 NFL Draft, Smith-Schuster was an instant hit with seven receiving TDs in each of his first two seasons, including a pair of 97-yard scores – becoming the first player in NFL history to have multiple offensive TDs of that distance or more.

There were 1,426 receiving yards in 2018, before a step back in 2019 was followed by a career-high nine receiving TDs in 2020.

Limited to five games by a shoulder injury while the Steelers toiled on offense with the retiring Ben Roethlisberger still at quarterback, Smith-Schuster's only score last season was his first career rushing TD.

The 25-year-old is confident the Chiefs are a good fit for him, though.

 "I just thought that this opportunity fit more for me in the sense of coming here, playing for Andy [Reid] and obviously the OC [Eric Bieniemy], Joe [Bleymaier] and everyone else," he said.

"I've seen an opportunity that I can take on and where I can improve my skills and see what I can do.

"I'm a physical guy coming in here to showcase those talents. That's what I bring with myself, in the package.

"I'm here to work. We have a great team, there are some great guys, and this is why I came to be a part of this. I came here to win."

Patrick Mahomes welcomed the arrival of a new Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver to target after JuJu Smith-Schuster secured a one-year, $10.75million deal.

Smith-Schuster announced his departure from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday.

The one-time Pro Bowler had spent his entire NFL career to date with the Steelers, with 323 catches for 3,855 receiving yards and 26 receiving touchdowns across 63 games in five seasons.

Taken in the second round in the 2017 NFL Draft, Smith-Schuster was an instant hit with seven receiving TDs in each of his first two seasons, including a pair of 97-yard scores – becoming the first player in NFL history to have multiple offensive TDs of that distance or more.

There were 1,426 receiving yards in 2018, before a step back in 2019 was followed by a career-high nine receiving TDs in 2020.

Limited to five games by a shoulder injury while the Steelers toiled on offense with the retiring Ben Roethlisberger still at quarterback, Smith-Schuster's only score last season was his first career rushing TD.

Paired with Mahomes, though, the 25-year-old can feel confident he will get his career back on track in Kansas City.

Wideout Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce will remain Mahomes' primary weapons, targeted on 28 per cent and 25 per cent of their routes respectively last season, but there is room for another option after Sammy Watkins left following the 2020 campaign. Byron Pringle departed this offseason in free agency and Mecole Hardman has yet to live up to his second-round draft status.

Superstar Mahomes certainly appears eager to link up with Smith-Schuster, quickly welcoming his signing on social media after the new man posted: "#ChiefsKingdom Let's Go!"

"Turn me up brotha!!!" Mahomes replied, to which Smith-Schuster said: "Can't wait to get after it my boy!"

Smith-Schuster had earlier posted a message thanking the Steelers fans, saying: "To all of Steelers Nation. Thank you for taking me in and making me a part of the family from the moment that I was drafted. You all took me in so quickly, and I really needed it.

"I was a wide-eyed 20-year-old who was sent to the east coast away from my family for the first time in my life, and you made me feel right at home, despite all of the loneliness I should have felt.

"These have been the best five years in my life. I owe so much to the fans who embraced me and who made playing on Sundays in Pittsburgh so special.

"It was an honour to wear the black and gold for you all! I love you! JuJu."

JuJu Smith-Schuster is leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers to join the Kansas City Chiefs, the wide receiver appeared to confirm.

The 25-year-old was expected to leave the Steelers and used his official Twitter account to post a goodbye message to the fans, before adding in a later post: "#ChiefsKingdom Let's Go!"

Smith-Schuster will receive a one-year, $10.75M deal in Kansas, according to reports.

He spent five years in Pittsburgh after being drafted from the University of Southern California, playing 63 games and making just one touchdown, which came against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2 of last season.

Smith-Schuster posted a screenshot on Twitter that read: "To all of Steelers Nation. Thank you for taking me in and making me a part of the family from the moment that I was drafted. You all took me in so quickly, and I really needed it.

"I was a wide-eyed 20-year-old who was sent to the east coast away from my family for the first time in my life, and you made me feel right at home, despite all of the loneliness I should have felt.

"These have been the best five years in my life. I owe so much to the fans who embraced me and who made playing on Sundays in Pittsburgh so special.

"It was an honor to wear the black and gold for you all! I love you! JuJu."

After four uneven years as starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears and one year as a backup for the Buffalo Bills, Mitch Trubisky was ready for a new start.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers came calling, Trubisky knew that was exactly where he wanted to play.

"My goal through free agency was to find a way to get back on the field," the 27-year-old Trubisky said on Thursday, shortly after his two-year, $14 million deal with Pittsburgh became official.

"When an opportunity arose to play for coach [Mike] Tomlin and wear a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform, I was so excited. Now I'm ready to roll and get to it."

The second overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft by the Bears, Trubisky's career never quite took off in Chicago.

He helped the Bears to playoff berths in 2018 and '20 and was reportedly well liked among his teammates, but he was never viewed as being a dangerous downfield passer. Among 41 QBs with at least 600 pass attempts from 2017-20, he ranked 24th in completion percentage (64.0), 29th in passer rating (87.2) and 35th in yards per attempt (6.73).

Part of the reason for his lack of success, however, also stems from an offense that failed to take shape under former Bears coach Matt Nagy.

Trubisky spent this past season as Josh Allen's backup in Buffalo and credits his time there as crucial in recognising the type of organisation he wanted to be a part of.

"I think I learned a lot," he said. "I was in a great organisation and the first thing that I really learned when [I got] to Buffalo is what a great culture feels like, and I already feel like that here, already in my short time in Pittsburgh.

"Culture wins. I could tell when I was in Buffalo, and I can tell it's going to be a great fit here with the culture. I'm excited to contribute to that. It was a huge year for me in Buffalo, just to take a reset and get my mind right and continue to hone my skills and just get ready for the next opportunity."

He joins a Steelers team steeped in tradition and one with an opening at quarterback following the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger.

During his 18-year career with the Steelers, Roethlisberger led the franchise to a pair of Super Bowl championships, eight AFC North Division titles and 12 playoff berths.

"They didn't really have to make a pitch to me or sell me on anything," Trubisky said. "This is where I wanted to be, play for coach Tomlin, be a part of the rich Pittsburgh Steelers history and contribute to that.”

Trubisky still must prove he is capable of being Roethlisberger’s heir apparent, however.

General manager Kevin Colbert has said before the team is comfortable going forward with Mason Rudolph, who has gone 5-4-1 in 10 starts for the Steelers since being selected in the third round of the 2018 draft.

Trubisky, though, is confident he has the skill set to win the job and earn the trust of his teammates.

"I'm in a situation where I have to prove myself back on the field," he said. "That's what I'm looking forward to doing. You're always betting on yourself in that sense, and I definitely am in this case.

"You've got to bet on yourself and trust what you're capable of."

The Pittsburgh Steelers appear to have settled on Mitchell Trubisky as the successor to Ben Roethlisberger.

According to multiple reports, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft has agreed a two-year contract with the Steelers.

The former Chicago Bears quarterback spent last season as Josh Allen's backup with the Buffalo Bills having failed to live up to his draft status.

Trubisky will now get the chance to reinvigorate his career in Pittsburgh and has significant shoes to fill after future Hall of Famer Roethlisberger retired following his 18th season in the NFL.

The Steelers had been said to be in the mix for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is available for trade as the Niners get set to start Trey Lance in 2022.

But they have instead avoided sending draft capital to another team and elected to bet on their ability to harness Trubisky's physical tools, something which the Bears largely failed to do.

The Bears traded up from the third pick to the second in 2017 to land Trubisky but, save for a 2018 season in which he was part of a team that won the NFC North only to lose in the Wild Card round to the Philadelphia Eagles, his time with the team was unsuccessful.

Chicago did get back to the playoffs in 2020, a season in which Trubisky and Nick Foles alternated at quarterback, but they suffered a meek Wild Card exit at the hands of the New Orleans Saints.

In his time with the Bears, Trubisky threw for 10,609 yards, 64 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. He also ran for eight touchdowns.

His final season with Chicago saw him record a pickable pass rate of 5.48 per cent, the fifth-worst among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts.

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers are intrigued to see what Mason Rudolph can do but will still be adding to the quarterback position this offseason.

After the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh have uncertainty over their regular starter at QB for the first time since the two-time Super Bowl winner was drafted in 2004.

Rudolph was backup to Roethlisberger over the past three seasons and has started 10 games over that span, while former Washington first-round pick Dwayne Haskins is expected to stay with the team.

The Steelers will also bring in another option, either via free agency, trade or the NFL Draft, but outgoing general manager Kevin Colbert was positive about Rudolph.

"Mason's 5-4-1 as an NFL starter, albeit in a backup kind of role, but we are excited to see what is next for Mason," said Colbert, who will step down as GM after the draft process, per ESPN.

"If we started a season today, Mason would be our starter, and we're excited to see where that can go. I'm comfortable that Mason has won more games than he's lost as a starter.

"Where that can go, we'll see. To be an NFL starter that you can win with, you gotta prove it over 16 games. I'm anxious to see that, if that's the case.

"And we're excited to see what Dwayne can provide either from competition, or maybe he evolves as a starter."

Jimmy Garoppolo has been linked as a possible trade candidate, while the Steelers have the number 20 pick in a draft which does not have a consensus top QB expected to go at the top of the order.

Colbert added: "We know we're going to add to the position. I can't tell you how, but at this point we will go to camp with four [QBs].

"If we had to start today with Mason as our starter, let's go. We'll try to build the best team around him."

Malik Willis, Sam Howell and Kenny Pickett are among the draft prospects Pittsburgh are likely to be doing due diligence on.

"The draft class of quarterbacks, there's good quality available – probably not as many as there have been in recent years, but it is what it is," added Colbert.

"This group, there's good players in it and there's good players that all have a different skill set. 

"That's what was really unique about watching them compete at the Senior Bowl, because the majority of them were there, and they're all different. 

"I know some of them will be starting quarterbacks, winning quarterbacks, and that's exciting."

Mike Tomlin said Brian Flores' resume "speaks for itself" after the Pittsburgh Steelers hired the former Miami Dolphins head coach as a senior defensive assistant.

Flores was fired by the Dolphins after a 2021 season in which he led Miami to a winning record for the second successive year.

He has since launched a class action lawsuit against the league, alleging the NFL is rife with racism and has a "disingenuous commitment to social equity".

Flores named the Dolphins along with the New York Giants and Denver Broncos as defendants.

Among the allegations from Flores is that his interview for the Giants head coaching position was essentially a sham, claiming to have inadvertently learned of their decision to hire Brian Daboll before the interview took place.

It is also alleged in the lawsuit that Flores "was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule" by the Broncos in 2019 and was never intended to be "a legitimate candidate", while also criticising the interview board.

All three teams have denied the accusations against them while the NFL said Flores' claims "are without merit". However, prior to last week's Super Bowl, commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would take nothing off the table in a review of its hiring practices.

Flores interviewed for the head coach role with the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints and, despite missing out on those jobs, will have a chance to embellish his already impressive CV with the Steelers after being named senior defensive assistant/linebackers.

"I am excited about Brian Flores joining our coaching staff given his history of developing and teaching defensive players during his time in the NFL," Steelers head coach Tomlin said.

"Brian's resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team."

T.J. Watt vowed the honour of winning Defensive Player of the Year will motivate him more after the Pittsburgh Steelers star claimed the prize on Thursday.

Watt was announced as the winner during the NFL Honours ceremony in Los Angeles, following in the footsteps of three-time winner J.J. Watt. 

He took the award after racking up 22.5 sacks in 2021 but, following a campaign in which the Steelers were eliminated in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, is only using the accomplishment as further fuel going into 2022.

"I just want to thank my parents. Mom, dad, this is insane," said Watt. "My brothers, Derek and J.J., you guys have pushed me so much to get me to this point.

"My beautiful fiancee, Dani, for being my number one supporter. My team-mates and coaches back in Pittsburgh, this is truly not possible without you guys.

"There are so many guys that put in so much work that goes unnoticed. That's everyone from the guys in the cafeteria to the guys that are taping ankles. This ones for all of you guys.

"I grew up coming to this awards show, I think five or six times, and never came home with hardware. But every time I left more motivated than the time I got here. I promise this only motivates me more.

"I feel like I'm just about to be entering the prime of my career and that's why more than ever I just want to continue to find ways to get better at this game.

"That's why I love football so much. There's always room for improvement and I'm not satisfied. I'd much rather be playing in the Super Bowl this weekend than winning this award for sure.

"To be able to be recognised as the best defensive player in the year is definitely something that I strive to be.

"I'm not huge on individual goals, but it's tough for me not to want that when I saw my brother at the height of his career win the award three times and I always just thought to myself, why can't I do that?

"I'm just so motivated. I'm very honoured to receive this award when there's so many successful and great players in the National Football League."

Ben Roethlisberger, the great Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, has confirmed his retirement from the NFL after 18 seasons.

Thursday's announcement on Roethlisberger's official website's Twitter page had been expected at some point during the offseason.

The 39-year-old's comments around the Steelers' Wild Card Round defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs made clear his time with his only professional team was over and appeared to hint at the end of his career.

Reading a statement alongside his family in a social media video post, Roethlisberger said: "The time has come to clean out my locker, hang up my cleats and continue to be all I can be to my wife and children.

"I retire from football a truly grateful man."

Roethlisberger was a two-time champion in Pittsburgh, leading the Steelers to glory at Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII. They also made Super Bowl XLV, losing to the Green Bay Packers.

The 11th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Roethlisberger won the Steelers starting job in Week 3 of his rookie season and never looked back.

He made 247 QB starts, the fifth-most of all time, with all of those coming as a Steeler.

Only the same four players again – legends Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre – can top Roethlisberger for passing yards (64,088), although he ranks eighth for touchdown passes (418).

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says "all options are on the table" as he searches for the franchise's next quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger's expected exit.

Veteran two-time Super Bowl winner Roethlisberger is yet to fully declare his intentions but it is widely anticipated he will depart the Steelers.

Mason Rudolph and 2019 first round pick Dwayne Haskins were QBs on the Steelers 2021 roster while they could explore their trade or free agency options with Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston potentially available.

"All options are on the table," Tomlin told reporters on Tuesday. "I enjoy working with [general manager] Kevin [Colbert] this time of year because we speak plain English.

"We have to improve our football team. There's two major ways you do it. You do it to free agency, and you do it through the draft.

"We have to look at what's available to us in the draft positionally. And we have to look at what's available to us, potentially, in free agency, positionally, and then we kind of bring those two discussions together.

"It kind of gives us a path in which to go about addressing our needs."

Tomlin added: "Quarterback mobility is valued not only by me but everyone. It's just a component of today's game and increasingly so."

Contracted QB Rudolph and Haskins, who joined the Steelers from Washington in 2021, were used sparingly in 2021 and would need to make a major step-up to be starters.

"Mason and Dwayne have had their moments, but they'll have to prove that," Tomlin said. "And not only in the team development process but through playing itself.

"They're guys that start that I wouldn't characterize as every-day starters. And so they'll be given an opportunity to establish themselves, and there's going to be competition. There always is.

"I think that both guys have positioned themselves to fight that fight with what they've done from a work standpoint and a professionalism standpoint in 2021."

Patrick Mahomes revealed the Kansas City Chiefs were motivated by being "p****d off" by a slow start to the Wild Card round against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 42-21 blowout win.

The Chiefs were shut out in the first quarter by a Steelers team that snuck into the playoffs as the seven seed and then fell behind when T.J. Watt returned a Mecole Hardman fumble for a touchdown.

But Mahomes took over thereafter, throwing for 404 yards and five touchdowns, a sole interception in the first quarter the only blemish on a blistering performance.

Tight end Travis Kelce also threw a touchdown on a trick play as the Chiefs turned on the style in setting up a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game with the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round.

"I think we were all p****d off at ourselves," Mahomes said in his media conference. "We felt like we weren't playing with enough energy, we felt like we weren't executing at a high enough level and not playing with enough urgency.

"So, I feel like guys really motivated themselves. We all kind of talked, it wasn't like one person talking, it was everybody talking to each other, and we came with a different urgency starting in the second quarter and carried it the rest of the game.

"Playing in the postseason games, we have young dudes who hadn't played yet, so they got to get that experience this week.

"And we have those vets that have been in here before and showed that with how Tyreek [Hill] and Trav [Kelce] stepped up in big ways to kind of get us sparked and get us rolling again."

On the matchup with the Bills, who crushed the New England Patriots on Saturday behind a sensational five-touchdown performance from quarterback Josh Allen, Mahomes said: "Yeah I mean you expect a really good football team that's going to play really hard. We're expecting a fight, we're expecting a battle. 

"They have a great offense, great defense, great special teams, and we played them in the AFC Championship last year, and we know that it's going to be another fight for us if we want to try to move on to the AFC Championship Game this year."

Ben Roethlisberger reflected with pride on an 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers as he looks ahead to the next chapter.

There was to be no magical ending for Roethlisberger as Pittsburgh fell to a 42-21 reverse against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round on Sunday.

The Steelers quarterback threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns on 29-of-44 passing, but he also had to watch Patrick Mahomes' brilliance cut open his side and end their postseason bid.

While Roethlisberger has not specifically said he is retiring, he hinted at as much after bidding a tearful farewell to Heinz Field following a Week 17 win over the Cleveland Browns.

On Sunday, the two-time Super Bowl winner, who has donned the Steelers' black and gold for his entire career, spoke glowingly of his time in Pittsburgh as he looked back on his time with the franchise.

He said post-game: "Yeah it's tough, but I'm proud to play with these guys. God has blessed me with an ability to throw a football and has blessed me to play in the greatest city, in Pittsburgh, with the greatest fans and the greatest football team and players. 

"And it has just been truly a blessing, and I'm so thankful to him for the opportunity that he's given me.

"Just a bunch of guys that fought for each other, that fought their butts off and just competed. It wasn't always pretty, but there are a lot of games that we found a way. 

"I'm so proud of this group of men and the way they fight for each other, for the black and gold, for our fans. It's just been an honour to play with them."

Roethlisberger's opposite number Mahomes finished with 404 passing yards and five touchdowns, and the veteran heaped praise on his fellow quarterback, who will next face the Buffalo Bills.

Mahomes responded in kind as he congratulated Roethlisberger on his Hall of Fame career.

"[He is] a tremendous player that I have a ton of respect for – the way he plays the game, the competitor that he is," Mahomes said. 

"He's won Super Bowls. He's a guy that I've watched growing up, and I have a ton of respect for him. That's what I told him, that if this is his last game, he did it the right way."

Roethlisberger is now hoping this Steelers team can carry on the legacy he has left behind.

"I've been here a long time, and it's been a lot of fun," Roethlisberger added. 

"Like I said, God has blessed me. We joke about the Browns and going there [in the NFL Draft], but it was meant to be that I was going to wear black and gold. Draft day I had a black suit on with a gold tie.

"I'm just so thankful. I hope that I'm able to pass the legacy of what it is to be a Steeler from Dan Rooney. We all miss him, anyone that knew him misses him. 

"Hopefully I can pass some of that on to some of the guys and they can continue the tradition of what it means to be a Steeler and get passed down.

"Whenever you get a bunch of new guys, once you start to lose some of the old regime if you will, you've got to find ways to pass it down. 

"And we've got some guys in there that will continue to do that. I gave Cam [Heyward] a big hug and told him it's on him now. It's his job to pass it down and to keep teaching and holding guys to the Pittsburgh standard."

As Roethlisberger prepares for whatever the next challenge is that is thrown his way, he remains thankful for the opportunities he has had, including the Steelers' improbable progression to the playoffs following a dramatic end to the regular season.

"We thought last week was going to be the end," he continued. "We didn't know what was going to happen and God blessed me to play another football game. 

"It didn't end the way we wanted it to. But it's a blessing to be able to play this game. I try and tell those guys how lucky we are that we get to play football for a living. We need to count our blessings and understand how lucky we are. 

"We're out there getting beat up and this and that, but we get to entertain millions of fans and throw, catch, run, do what we've all done as kids. That's our job and when we say our prayers thank God for that.

"I don't know if it's emotional because it's the end of the season. I mean, this would be emotional no matter what. We never like to lose and go out and I'll miss these guys. It'll probably really hit me come training camp time."

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