Terrell Owens of the Cincinnati Benglas recently called Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger "soft." I wonder if he had a chance to watch the game Sunday night between the Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens.
In a day and age where the quarterback position is protected by the officials to the fullest extent, Roethlisberger seems to be the exception. There was a play against the Buffalo Bills a few games ago, where Ben was sacked and seemed to be roughed up even after the whistle. Yet there was no flag on the play. Had it been Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, the result of the play might have been different.
That also seemed to be the play in which Roethlisberger injured his right foot, which was believed to be broken by many. Yet in that same game, Big Ben, with an injured foot, ran for a first down on a 3rd-and-18. A truly heroic play by Ben, who is willing to do anything for his team to win the game.
Then came the game against the Ravens on Sunday night. Ben, already playing with a "broken foot," was hit in the nose by Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata. This appeared to have broken Ben's nose, which looked crooked and was gushing blood.
Yet there was no flag on the play. Blatant hands to the face, a quarterback's face nonetheless, and yet no flag on the play. Again, imagine if it were Manning or Brady instead of Ben.
Just like James Harrison, Roethlisberger is a target by many on the field and off. Ben is a very disliked person around the country. Most of the dislike stems from Ben's off-field incidents, where he was accused of sexual crimes by two different females. Ben was not charged with a crime or even arrested in either case.
There also seems to be a a dislike toward Roethlisberger by some NFL fans because they think he's overrated. I hear a lot of talk by other fans that if their favorite QB had the Steelers' defense or if their favorite quarterback were on the Steelers they would have multiple Super Bowls by now.
What they fail to realize is that the Steelers have had a Super Bowl-caliber defense long before Ben was here. Yet they failed to win a Super Bowl, mostly due to the lack of talent at the quarterback position. Ben put this team over the top mentally and physically.
What those same critics of Roethlisberger fail to mention is what Ben is forced to work with offensively. Against the Ravens, the Steelers lost yet another offensive lineman to injury when tackle Flozell Adams left the game. After Adams left, the Steelers only had one official starting offensive lineman left in the game, playing with four backups.
That wasn't the only injury as Steelers tight end Heath Miller left the game with a concussion. Miller took a vicious looking hit late in the third quarter and yet there was no flag. Miller is one of the most valuable players in the Steelers offense because of his blocking and receiving abilities.
Ben's receivers weren't helping him out that much either. They were having trouble getting open for most of the night and dropped a few key passes.
With all that stacked against him, Roethlisberger kept playing and kept making plays. His stats weren't great last night—22-of-38 for 253 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. But those stats don't show the whole story. Stats do not define Roethlisberger, and they never have.
Roethlisberger is defined by his play in the clutch and for plays that do not show up on the stat sheet. Like the play last night, when Terrell Suggs had Ben dead to rights for a sack, and yet somehow Ben fought him off to throw the ball away, backhanded. I don't see any other QB in the NFL making that play. That play is the kind of play that defines Roethlisberger.
I also don't see any other QB surviving behind that offensive line. Brady and Manning are horrible when they actually get real pressure against them. Ben goes through that on a weekly basis. Ben has been sacked more than other any other QB in the NFL since 2004. He doesn't complain, it's almost as if he enjoys it.
On a team that always seems to be fighting some kind of adversity, they have a quarterback that seems to welcome it. They have a quarterback that will fight for them until he has almost anything left. That's what he did last night.
In a league where QBs are given special treatment, in league where the QBs are not supposed to be tough, Ben continues to be the exception. Other QBs might be more talented and have better stats, but I don't think any of them would fit this team better than Big Ben. It's a match made in heaven—the Steelers and their quarterback, the man of steel.
You can also read this article and much more on the very popular sports blog 412sports talk with Mad Chad.