When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft, fans were hopeful that he could be the final piece needed to complete the seemingly endless pursuit of "One for the Thumb."
Eight seasons and two Lombardi Trophies later, fans in Six-burgh are able to flash two thumbs up at the mention of their favorite football team, knowing both digits are represented in the ring column.
And, luckily Steelers Country, "One for the Pointer Finger, Index Finger, Middle Finger or Pinky" is an immediately attainable goal. After all, the franchise will return a talented roster in 2012, featuring a franchise quarterback that has already proven his championship pedigree, thus relegating that "Dan Marino monkey" that hangs on so many signal-callers' backs into the unspoken "Closet of Kordell."
While one has to take the good with the bad regarding the style of play from the never-say-die gunslinger, the pros far outweigh the cons.
For every unnecessary turnover or sack, there are two Houdini-style miracles, and the rest of his game (which is to say, the bulk of it) consists simply of great physical skills and aplomb at the most important position.
Opponents often describe sacking Roethlisberger as trying to chop down an oak tree.
All the while, No. 7 has been consistently chopping down defenses, among the league leaders in yards per pass, a statistic heavily correlated with winning and entertainment. And, one other small tidbit...
He's second in winning percentage among active quarterbacks, only trailing a man named... oh, trust me, you know who!
En route to two world championships and a career that is arguably developing toward Hall of Fame enshrinement, Roethlisberger has rewarded loyal Steelers fans with a number of breathtaking performances.
So, which are the top dozen? Please note that this is a countdown, above all else, of the quarterback's most impressive performances, regardless (well, at least somewhat) of when the game occurred.
In order, considerations include statistics (obviously), overall performance and game magnitude. In other words, playoff wins and championships are not automatically given top placement. This is a list of the finest 60-minute moments in the first half of an illustrious career.