When the Pittsburgh Steelers went into halftime of Saturday's playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens down 21-7, I had little doubt in my mind that they would come back and win.
Not just because the Steelers are a really good team and were at home, but mostly because of their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
Since Ben has been the starting quarterback of the Steelers, he's been a winner. More than that, he's been clutch in big games and in big moments.
The dictionary defines clutch as "tending to be successful in tense or critical situations." That's a perfect definition and defines Big Ben perfectly as well.
On Saturday Ben did receive some help from the defense, as they forced a couple of turnovers. That being said, Ben and the offense did their job and took advantage and turned those turnovers into two touchdown passes.
Later in the game the Ravens eventually tied it up at 24 apiece. Big Ben then proceeded to lead the Steelers on an 11-play, 65-yard touchdown drive to help win the game. Making it even more impressive is the poise that Ben possesses in these kinds of moments.
The drive had come to a halt, as the Steelers stared at a impossible 3rd-and-19. Ben decided to change the play call, drop back and toss a 54-yard bomb to rookie receiver Antonio Brown. The throw was perfect and almost went for a touchdown, but Brown's momentum carried him out of bounds. A few plays later Rashard Mendenhall carried the ball into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Now I have questions that have to be asked. Who else makes that play in that situation? What if Peyton Manning or Tom Brady would have completed a 3rd-and-19 in that situation? The media would be calling it one of the greatest plays in NFL playoff history.
For me and fellow Big Ben and Steelers fans, it's nothing new, and it certainly isn't surprising. Ben has always embraced these moments since he's been a Steeler. He has the most fourth-quarter game-winning drives and fourth quarter comebacks since he's been in the league.
After Saturday's victory over the Ravens, Ben is now 9-2 as a starter in the playoffs. He has two Super Bowl rings and four AFC Championship appearances in just seven years. A regular season record of 60-26. Engineer of possibly the most dramatic and greatest Super Bowl drive and touchdown pass in history. At some point, I just have to throw my hands up in the air and say there's an anti-Roethlisberger bias.
I know some people don't like the guy and there's a perception that he's not a good guy, but as far as being a quarterback and player goes, he's special. Yes, he has been blessed with a good supporting cast. He's been blessed by being drafted by a franchise that is committed to winning.
That being said, how many Super Bowls did the Steelers win after Terry Bradshaw retired and before Ben became the quarterback?
The Steelers had championship-caliber teams in the '90s and in the early 2000s. Yet they never had a championship-caliber quarterback. Kordell Stewart threw three interceptions in two home AFC Championship Games. Neil O'Donnell almost singlehandedly lost Super Bowl XXX. What if the Steelers had Ben in those games or on some of those teams?
What separates Ben from other quarterbacks is something that you can't teach. His physical and mental toughness is what makes him special. Ben can have a miserable first half and find a way to prevail in the end.
What I don't understand is why Ben continues to not get mentioned with the Bradys and Mannings. Is it because of his stats? Do these people not realize that Ben is the eighth highest-rated passer in NFL history? Did Ben not go 9-6 last year while throwing for over 4,300 yards with 26 touchdowns and a QB rating over 100?
My opinion is that fantasy football geeks and stat junkies get mad because they don't always have a way of understanding how Ben always seems to find a way to get a victory. It's because he's a natural winner. He has "it." "It" can't be explained, but Ben has it.
If Ben leads the Steelers to another Super Bowl this year, it will give him three in his first seven seasons, and three before he turns 30. Then you have to talk about him being an all-time great. Then you have to put him in with Brady and Manning regardless of stats or what the "experts" might think.
All I know is that despite all the stats and all the arguing, one thing is for sure: Ben is clutch. When his career is over, he may end up being the best clutch quarterback of his generation and maybe even of all time.