Roethlisberger Deserves Elite Recognition

By Charlie Magovern

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Prior to Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, Rex Ryan’s dismantling of so called “elite” quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road in consecutive weeks was the reason why many were picking the Jets to fly to Dallas in two weeks.

Who could blame them? Both Manning and Brady have won Super Bowls and have been known to stupefy defenses with their arms on a weekly basis. If they could stop the Colts and Patriots, then certainly Ben Roethlisberger would merely be a warm-up before facing Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Speaking of Rodgers, multiple sports personalities started comparing his performances this postseason to those of the “elite,” which always included Brady, Manning, Drew Brees and even Phillip Rivers, but not Roethlisberger.

But as we all know, on Sunday Roethlisberger and the rest of the Steelers offense put up 17 first half points and held on for a 24-19 win at Heinz Field. Though most of the offense came courtesy of Rashard Mendenhall’s breakout performance, it was Ben’s arm that sealed the game for the black and gold.

Ben’s completion to Antonio Brown with 2:38 remaining added to many plays that have showed us why he deserves to be mentioned in the “elite quarterbacks” conversation and why a third Super Bowl ring easily puts him into Hall of Fame territory: he knows how to win and will do it in multiple ways.

Making this argument using statistics is pointless because Roethlisberger’s playoff stats, particularly in his two Super Bowl wins, would make you wonder if he decided to play left-handed. Therefore Roethlisberger’s greatness comes from the fact that he is a clutch player who rises up at just the right occasion.

Just look at Super Bowl XLIII. He threw for 256 yards with one touchdown, an interception and a decent 93.2 rating. What that stat line doesn’t tell you is that he led a game-winning drive that ended in probably the most memorable reception in Steelers history (except for maybe that Lynn Swann one from the 70s).

If you can remember, the window that Big Ben had to squeeze that throw into was the size of a McKinley’s takeout box, but the stakes were much higher than a five-dollar turkey sandwich.

Some players, like Manning, Brady or Brees are exciting to watch precisely because they completely dominate defenses.

Roethlisberger is just as thrilling to see because you never know when he is going to make a play that completely changes a game. Though his methods aren’t as consistently dominating, in the end he is just as much of a winner as any other quarterback in the league today, making him 100 percent deserving of elite status among NFL quarterbacks.

If the Steelers are able to take down the Packers, a team very similar to themselves, on Feb. 6, Roethlisberger will tie with Brady and Cowboy great Troy Aikman for second on the all-time list for Super Bowl wins by a quarterback. Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw stand atop the list with four each, and with Roethlisberger only being in his seventh year, it’s not unreasonable to see him eventually joining them.

Even if he doesn’t make it to four, Roethlisberger has proved that he deserves to be classified among the all-time greats because of the most important stat line: wins.