I'm beginning to believe that fantasy football is starting to destroy the perception of how players should be judged.
Apparently, to be an "elite" QB in the NFL nowadays, all you have to do is throw for 4,000 yards. Even if your team doesn't make the playoffs, you're still elite because you're asked to throw the ball a lot.
There's also a lot of talk about whether or not Ben Roethlisberger deserves to be mentioned as an elite quarterback.
Most of Ben's detractors say that he only wins because of his defense and running game. That's true in small doses, but Ben is certainly a big reason why the Steelers will be competing for their third Super Bowl in six years in two Sundays.
Since Ben has been the starting quarterback for 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.
So far in the playoffs, Ben has received some help from the defense as they forced a couple of turnovers; with that being said, Ben and the offense did their job, took advantage, and turned those turnovers into two touchdowns.
Against the Ravens, Ben led the Steelers on an 11-play, 65-yard touchdown drive that eventually won the game.
Making that 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 an 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.
Against the Jets in the AFC Championship game, Ben did not play great, but he still made some clutch plays and helped his team win. He completed two passes on third downs late in the game, clinching the victory. He wasn't throwing the ball well, so he used his feet, running for three first downs and a touchdown.
For me and fellow Big Ben and Steelers fans, it's nothing new and 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.
Ben has a regular season record of 60-26, but perhaps most impressively, he is now 10-2 as a starter in the playoffs. He engineered possibly the most dramatic and great Super Bowl drive and game-winning touchdown pass in history, and in total has two Super Bowl rings and four AFC Championship appearances in just seven years.
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 to 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 become the quarterback?
The Steelers had championship-caliber teams in the 90's and in the the early 2000's, yet they never had a championship-caliber quarterback.
Kordell Stewart threw three interceptions in two home AFC Championship games. Neil O'Donnell almost single-handedly lost Super Bowl XXX.
What if the Steelers had Ben on some of those teams?
Yes, Ben was drafted to a good team and to a good franchise, but the Steelers were just 6-10 the year before Ben got here. Ben rejuvenated the Steelers, going 15-0 in the regular season in his rookie year. He made big plays and gave the team a new found energy.
People have made a big deal that the Steelers went 3-1 this year without Ben, yet the Patriots went 11-5 without Brady two years ago. Again, there's a double standard when it comes to Ben.
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 people fail to mention Ben with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. 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?
I hear a lot of people say that it's the team, not Ben. I hear people say that if you put Peyton on the Steelers, he would have multiple Super Bowls as well. That's ridiculous.
Peyton is a choke artist.
Peyton has had a top-10 defense four different times in his career (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009), including the best defense in the NFL in 2007. He's also played with more Pro Bowlers than Big Ben.
If you say to me, "Give Peyton Manning the Steelers defense," I'll say OK, let Ben throw to Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Marvin Harrison with Edgerrin James in the backfield in a dome with a perfect climate. If you want Peyton to have Ben's defense, then he has to play outside in Pittsburgh, behind Ben's offensive line, with Ben's receivers.
Are these same people suggesting that Tom Brady has never benefitted from good defenses? The Patriots have had a top-10 defense in eight of the last 10 seasons, including the best scoring defense twice.
Now Aaron Rodgers is considered an elite QB. That's fine but his defense was ranked second in the NFL this year in scoring defense. Ben got killed for winning the AFC Championship with no TD passes and two picks, and a 35 QB rating. Yet Rodgers also won the NFC Championship with zero TD and two picks.
Can someone say double standard?
Aside from having the eighth-best quarterback rating of all time, Ben has the fourth-best yards-per-attempt in NFL history.
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, before he even 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 arguing, one thing is for sure—Ben is clutch.
When his career is over, Ben may end up being the best clutch quarterback of his generation and maybe even of all-time.