Ben Roethlisberger is heading to the Super Bowl for the third time in the sixth year of his career.
Generally when the topic of best QB in the NFL is brought up, there are only two players included in the debate: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
However, if Roethlisberger and the Steelers are able to beat the Green Bay Packers in two weeks, it may be time to put Big Ben’s name into the discussion of best quarterback in the NFL right now.
Roethlisberger’s problems off the field over the years have been well documented, from his motorcycle accident to his numerous run-ins with the law to his four-game suspension this year.
However, for this discussion, the focus will be on what happens between the hash marks.
This season, he was sixth in the NFL in yards per game for quarterbacks who played in at least 10 games this season at 266.7, which was higher than Tom Brady, who averaged 243.8 per game; Peyton Manning finished second in the NFL in this category, averaging 293.8 per game.
Both Brady and Manning threw more touchdowns than Roethlisberger, but Manning had 17 interceptions compared to Roethlisberger, who had five and Brady, who only had an unbelievable four interceptions all season.
Brady also led the NFL in quarterback passer rating, finishing the year at 111.0, but Big Ben was fifth at 97.0, and Manning was all the way down to 10th this season at 91.9.
Looking at this season’s statistics, these three quarterbacks are among the best in the league in most of these categories, but the category that sets Big Ben apart from these two quarterbacks is his record in the playoffs.
Tom Brady won three Super Bowls in his first four years as a starter. However, since 2004, Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season, Brady has played in two Super Bowls and won one in 2004. Brady’s playoff record since that 2004 Super Bowl win is 5-5, which includes blowing a 21-6 halftime lead to the Colts and Manning in 2006.
In those 10 games, Brady has thrown 19 touchdowns, but also 13 interceptions.
Peyton Manning, since 2004, has played in two Super Bowl, winning one against the Bears in 2006. Manning is the only quarterback of the three to go to the playoffs each of the past six years, but his playoff record is 7-6.
Four of those six years the Colts were one and done, losing their first playoff game. Peyton has the same number of touchdowns and interceptions as Brady over this span, but he played in three more playoff games.
Ben Roethlisberger in his six-year career is 10-2 in the playoffs with two Super Bowl wins and potentially a third. In those 12 games, he has thrown 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, which are very similar to both Brady and Manning.
Now, some will argue that the Pittsburgh Steelers' system of a great defense and good running game is the reason Roethlisberger has been so successful in the playoffs. However, the three quarterbacks have very similar statistics, and it could be argued that Manning and Brady have had more talent around them on the offensive side of the ball.
Manning has Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark and a top offensive line that includes Jeff Saturday, who is one of the top centers in the NFL; Brady had Randy Moss along with Wes Welker and has one of the best left tackles in the game covering his blind side in Matt Light.
This season, Roethlisberger has had to play with two rookie wide receivers and an offensive line that has been constantly shuffled around. His left tackle, Jonathan Scott, was a fifth-round pick for Detroit in 2006 and last year played on the Buffalo Bills, who had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.
The reason Big Ben has been able to succeed with these conditions is his ability to extend plays and ability to avoid the rush.
In less than two weeks, Ben Roethlisberger has a chance to tie Tom Brady for second most Super Bowl wins for a quarterback in NFL history. He will also be within one win of tying Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for most ever in NFL history.
If he is able to win his third Super Bowl in Dallas, there is no reason not to include Roethlisberger in the discussion of best quarterback in the NFL right now.