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What Ben Roethlisberger's return says about the Steelers' future

From ESPN - January 15, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger crossed paths in a devastated locker room and exchanged friendly pats.

"We will get there," Roethlisberger told the game's top receiver after a 45-42 loss to the Jaguars that not many outside of Jacksonville's locker room expected.

This imperfect but wildly entertaining Pittsburgh Steelers team fell a game shorter than it did a year ago, but Roethlisberger's tone seemed far more positive this time.

Last January, he openly wondered if the AFC title game stage were too big for younger offensive players, and he announced on his radio show that he would take time to evaluate his future. Fast-forward to Sunday, and Roethlisberger wasted no time reassuring Steelers fans.

"I definitely have a desire to play football. I love this game. I love these guys. It's tough, it stings, you hate to lose at home. I feel bad because I feel like I let the fans down, let my teammates down," he said following Sunday's loss. "I do not know about contracts and who's coming back, but I know the guys up front are, and that makes it good for me, so I look forward to next year with those guys."

Roethlisberger's comments are significant for several reasons, most notably that they clear up any uncertainty in the offseason. Roethlisberger announced his return for a 14th season last April, so it was reasonable to wonder if he planned a similar approach this time around as he evaluated his future.

Here's why this situation feels different: Despite the ugly Jacksonville game, Roethlisberger has every reason to like this team, particularly on offense. His comments reflect that.

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