Big Ben Roethlisberger Has Already Taken His Place Among Steeler Legends

David KlinglerCorrespondent IApril 13, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scrambles against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The list of all-time great Steeler quarterbacks has always begun and ended with Terry Bradshaw.

Some of you old timers might argue for Bobby Layne to be included, but his best days were behind him by the time he spent the last five years of his career with Pittsburgh.

Bradshaw's name doesn't often come up when discussing the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, but it should. He was arguably one of the top five best big game quarterbacks to ever play the game, and the numbers prove it.

He won 14 out of 19 postseason games, four Super Bowls, and two Super Bowl MVP awards. There are those who would say that Bradshaw was merely along for the ride, but there were times when he was clearly in the driver's seat.

He posted a quarterback rating of over 100 in all four Super Bowl games. His combined rating of 112.8 ranks third in Super Bowl history for quarterbacks who have attempted at least 40 passes behind only Joe Montana and Jim Plunkett.

He threw critical fourth quarter touchdown passes in all four games that clinched victories for the Steelers. The man was clutch.

Move over, Terry—you have company.

Whether you call it "The Drive" or "The Greatest Super Bowl Ever," there is no denying that Roethlisberger's fourth quarter drive in Super Bowl XLIII was the greatest drive in Steelers history.

I know, there was that play known as "The Immaculate Reception" that would probably get some votes, but that wasn't so much a drive as it was one single spectacular play.

Big Ben was clutch all season long, rallying the Steelers in the fourth quarter five times to win games, including the Super Bowl. His outstanding performance in Super Bowl XLIII, which probably should have earned him MVP honors, should finally silence all the critics who questioned his ability to perform under the pressure of the biggest game.

Roethlisberger was unfairly criticized for his performance in his first Super Bowl appearance against the Seahawks. Although his statistics were not very good, he did not play as poorly as the numbers would indicate.

He made a couple of big plays at the end of the first half when the game was still up for grabs, including diving in for the go-ahead touchdown to give the Steelers a 7-3 halftime lead.

Then again in the fourth quarter with the Steelers protecting the lead, Roethlisberger converted several crucial third downs by passing and scrambling to keep the clock running.

Although I still have him ranked behind Bradshaw, Roethlisberger should start to be mentioned in the same breath as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning when talking about the best big game quarterbacks of today.

Who knows, Big Ben is only 27 and has plenty of time to win more championships. Before it is all said and done, he may even eclipse Bradshaw's four rings and take his place at the top of the list.

One thing I have learned—don't bet against him.