Ben Roethlisberger Silences the Critics in Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 2 Win

Christopher Barron@chrisrbarronContributor IISeptember 17, 2012

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers QB Ben RoethlisbergerGregory Shamus/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger's performance Sunday shows just how quickly things change in the NFL

Last week, after a disappointing Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos, many were pointing the finger at Roethlisberger, claiming he's overrated—particularly after his late interception that sealed the Steelers' fate.

After yesterday’s domination of the New York Jets, many are singing Big Ben’s praises.

So which is it? 

Is Ben Roethlisberger an overrated QB or an elite QB? 

His performance against the Jets silenced the critics and proved why he's an elite QB. 

Roethlisberger detractors have always pointed to Ben’s stat lines to make the case that he's not an elite QB, at least not in the modern pass-happy NFL. It’s true that Ben has only thrown for more than 4,000 yards twice and only once threw for more than 30 TDs.  

The Roethlisberger defenders have been forced to point out that a lot of what Ben does—especially when it comes to extending plays and avoiding sacks—doesn’t show up in the box score. 

The Roethlisberger-is-overrated crowd often focuses on the strength of other facets of the team to diminish Roethlisberger’s two Super Bowl rings. The critics point to the perennial top 10 Steelers defenses and the parade of 1,000 yard rushers who have been in the backfield with Big Ben. 

It's true that Roethlisberger has benefited from a stout Steelers defense in the past. Since his rookie year in 2004, the Steelers defense has finished in the top three in fewest points allowed in six out of the last eight years, finishing no worse than 12th over that time frame. 

It's also true that the Steelers have been blessed with talented running backs. From Jerome Bettis to Willie Parker to Rashard Mendenhall, Roethlisberger and the Steelers have enjoyed a consistently successful ground game. 

So what about this win over the Jets shows why Roethlisberger is an elite QB?

The way he won undercuts the most often used criticisms of Ben.  

First, what Ben did yesterday actually did show up in the box score.

Roethlisberger was 24-of-31, completing more than 77 percent of his passes, for 275 yards, two TDs and no interceptions. That translates to a stout 125.1 passer rating. Only Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton and Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton had higher passer ratings in Week 2. 

Second, while the Steelers defense was improved over Week 1, the black and gold still were forced to play without two of their most important defensive players—SS Troy Polamalu and LB James Harrison

Indeed in Week 2, Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense did much to help the Steelers defense. Big Ben led long drives of 10, 11 and 14 plays—all ending in points on the board for Pittsburgh and subsequently allowing the Steelers defense to stay rested.

The 14 play, 75-yard drive in the fourth quarter ate up over 10 minutes of clock time, kept the Jets offense off the field and sealed the victory for Pittsburgh. 

Finally, Ben guided the Steelers to victory with almost no running game whatsoever. A shaky offensive line struggled with run blocking for a second week, and the Mendenhall-less running game was once again a liability. Starting RB Ike Redman had just 25 yards on 12 carries—an anemic 2.1 yards per carry average, which would have been even more abysmal without a 13-yard scamper. RB Jonathan Dwyer was no more successful than Redman, gaining only 28 yards on 12 carries—translating to just 2.8 yards per carry.