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Ben Roethlisberger's Super Bowl XLIII Performance Is Defining Moment for QB

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers drops back to pass as the Steelers are called for a safety for a holding on the offensive line during the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
David KlinglerCorrespondent IApril 23, 2009

All great quarterbacks have that one significant moment.  The one that defines them as a player.

For some, it comes early in their career.  Johnny Unitas' moment came in the classic 1958 NFL Championship game against the New York Giants

His near-perfect execution of the now-commonplace "two-minute offense" culminated in the first of two consecutive titles.

Unitas would go on to set numerous NFL passing records and also won a Super Bowl following the 1970 season.  But, most people cite his performance in "The Greatest Game Ever Played" as the defining moment of his career.

For Joe Namath, it happened when he was able to deliver on his "guarantee" in Super Bowl III against the heavily favored Colts.  His MVP performance helped destroy the belief that the AFL was a second rate outfit, unable to compete with the established NFL.

Namath's injury-plagued career ended following his 1977 stint with the Rams, but it was his performance in the biggest game of his career that ultimately got him a bust in the Hall of Fame.

For others, their moment came in the twilight of their career.  Joe Montana's 92-yard drive to bring the 49ers from behind and capture Super Bowl XXIII against Cincinnati was "Joe Cool" at his best.  His game winning touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining is one of the super bowl's most memorable moments. 

Just two years earlier, Joe had nearly been forced to retire because of a serious back injury.  This super bowl performance, which would have earned him MVP had it not been for Jerry Rice's 11 catches for 215 yards, was classic Montana: cool and calm under pressure.

And who can forget John Elway diving and spinning for a crucial first down late in the Super Bowl XXXII victory over Green Bay.  Elway had finally gotten the gorilla off his back after three previous Super Bowl failures.

Some would point to "The Drive" as Elway's defining moment, but I disagree.  I will never forget the post game celebration following the super bowl when owner Pat Bowlen held the Lombardi trophy high in the air and shouted, "This one's for John."

Which brings us to Ben Roethlisberger's defining moment.  The fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIII, 2:30 left to play and 78 yards to go.  This is the time great quarterbacks take it to another level.  As he had done all season, Ben put the team on his back and began the drive toward immortality.

He had taken a lot of criticism for his Super Bowl XL performance.  Many thought Ben was merely a caretaker for the offense.  Roethlisberger's incredible game winning drive shattered that myth and silenced the critics.

Ben is only 27 and has already won two Super Bowls.  He could win a few more before he's done, but he will always be remembered for that perfect pass to Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone.

That was the moment Big Ben took his place among the NFL's elite quarterbacks.

 

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