After being drafted No. 11 in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft, in only seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger is an amazing 9-2 in the playoffs and has taken the team to four AFC Championship games, won two Super Bowls and is close to a third.
He has been unquestionably and undeniably the most successful quarterback since he joined the league.
So why do people not give Ben the credit he deserves for being one of the league's elite quarterbacks?
A lot of people argue that Ben fell into a great opportunity when he was chosen by the Steelers. And I agree, but those same people give the defense all the credit for all the wins. And that is simply ridiculous.
The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled for many years prior to Ben’s arrival with plenty of great defenses, suffering loss after loss in the playoffs. That’s if the team even made it there at all. To now say it is the defense that is the cause of their success is illogical. History itself has proven otherwise.
Ben took over a team lead by a defense that helped them to a 6-10 record just one season prior to his arrival. He took that very same 6-10 team, in his rookie season, and went undefeated at 13-0!
In the 2001 season, Pro Bowler Kordell Stewart was the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They were the No. 1 ranked offensive rushing team, had the No. 1 ranked defense in the league, and were the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. They DID NOT win the Super Bowl.
In the 2005 season, Ben Roethlisberger was the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They were the No. 5 ranked offensive rushing team, had the No. 4 ranked defense in the league, and were the No. 6 seed barely making it to the playoffs. They DID win the Super Bowl.
And, of course, now it’s said the defense won it for Roethlisberger? It doesn’t make any sense. If it’s truly defenses that win it, why didn’t the three better defenses win it for their quarterbacks in the 2005 playoffs? What separated the teams and made the difference?
How and why did the Steelers win with the No. 4 ranked defense and Ben, yet lose with the No. 1 ranked defense just a few years earlier with Kordell? The 2001 team led by Kordell even had the benefit of the best running game in the league.
The “defense theory” alone certainly does not explain it, yet there are people who try and say that is the reason...way too many people.
It takes more than defense alone, as Arizona and their 17th ranked defense led by Kurt Warner proved in the 2009 playoffs. It is heart, desire and determination that matter once you get to the playoffs, at the center of which is the quarterback.
In the 2008 season the Steelers did enter the playoffs with the No. 1 ranked defense, but in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that same No. 1 ranked defense gave up 16 points and the lead to Arizona.
Big Ben was called upon to pull out another of his amazing fourth quarter comebacks, on one of the biggest stages in the world. He did. He led the Steelers on a do or die final drive, resulting in a touchdown. Regaining the lead and resulting in a victory, in spite of his defense faltering.
The Steelers did not win the Super Bowl because of the defense! Ben and the offense determined the winning team on the final game winning drive.
Chalk up No. 2 for Ben and No. 6 for the city in which he plays. He simply wins. No matter how many people talk down on him, or don't speak of him at all. There is no denying that. Now the Steelers have a shot at No. 7 because of him.
People look at Manning behind his great offensive line, under his dome out of the elements, on a team tailor made to give a QB great numbers statistically and talk about how elite he is. Give me a break.
This year we have seen how great Manning and Brady really are when they are faced with a little pressure and their lines break down... average at best.
People overlook the fact that Roethlisberger has played behind below average offensive lines, and sometimes outright horrible ones, other quarterbacks wouldn’t last a season behind...and he has succeeded.
It would take some sort of grading curve for Ben to be judged fairly.
Roethlisberger is the ultimate team player. He has a never say die attitude that he displays nearly every single time they have the ball. His confidence in his ability to get it done has spilled over and has been contagious to every player on the team and every fan in Pittsburgh.
Every fan has a sense of where their team stands, and I tell you this much...before Ben it was hit and miss, even with our No. 1 ranked defenses. We were never sure what team would show up, or if we even had a chance. Sometimes I knew we would lose.
Since Ben arrived, I am confident every game that we have a great shot of winning. It is leadership and confidence that he has brought back to this team and town. And it is definitely NOT something that can be measured statistically.
You can keep the quarterbacks with the best statistical numbers and continue pretending they actually matter, if it makes you feel better about losing.
I'll take Ben and all the rings he brings.