In an ESPN poll Monday afternoon, 48 out of the 50 states in the country agreed that they would rather have Aaron Rodgers quarterback their team this Sunday over two-time Super Bowl Champion Ben Roethlisberger.
Is it just me or is that number a little absurd? Clearly, Roethlisberger doesn’t put up the fantasy statistics that Rodgers does—The Packer QB does have the most talented group of receivers in the league. I’ll even give Rodgers the advantage in the stronger arm category, even prompting Roethlisberger to recently say his passes “wouldn’t even get wet in a car wash.”
But with the game on the line, like in Super Bowl XLIII against the Cardinals, Big Ben delivered a fourth-quarter comeback, something every NFL fan is all too familiar with the 6’6” monster. In his seven NFL seasons Roethlisberger 25 game-winning drives and 19 fourth-quarter comebacks. One of those comebacks happened in dramatic fashion in the divisional round against the Ravens, when Big Ben tossed a 60-yard bomb right into the hands of receiver Antonio Brown.
In the three years that Aaron Rodgers has led the Green Bay Packers, he’s had just three fourth-quarter comebacks and only five game-winning drives. The only game-winning drive he led this season was in Week 17 against a Chicago Bears team who had already clinched a first-round bye.
All five of the Packers losses were by four points or less. Aaron Rodgers had chances in several of those games but came up empty-handed.
Check out these tables to further compare these quarterbacks play as far as the fourth quarter is concerned.
Aaron Rodgers—2010 season
1st Down %
Ben Roethlisberger—2010 season
1st Down %
The following evidence shows the Roethlisberger gets better as the game goes along. The best stat I love about Ben compared the ARodg is the first down percentage in the fourth quarter. Big Ben leads an offense in the fourth, which has its easiest time converting critical first downs, while Rodgers struggles in the fourth, not even converting 40 percent.
If the Steelers enter the fourth quarter trailing the Pack by 10 points, I honestly wouldn’t even be scared in the slightest. Roethlisberger has proved he has what it takes to win a football game late. It isn’t going to the prettiest or the most memorable, but time and time again Big Ben has prevailed.
If the Packers enter the fourth quarter trailing AT ALL, I honestly would panic if I were a cheesehead. When Rodgers is on against most teams in the NFL, the games usually aren’t even that close. But that lack of close game experience combined Dick LeBeau’s defense and the pressure of the Super Bowl is going to be too much for Rodgers.
With a game as evenly matched as the Packers-Steelers showdown will be Sunday, I am going to lean towards a quarterback who plays his best when it matters the most… in the fourth quarter.
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