This Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger will be starting his third Super Bowl in only seven seasons in the league. He is a perfect 2-0 in his first two.
There are only three quarterbacks in NFL history with a better record than Big Ben: Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw are both 4-0 and Troy Aikman is 3-0 (Bart Starr and Jim Plunkett are both 2-0). A win this Sunday will put him in some elite company.
This week’s game figures to be Ben’s toughest Super Bowl opponent yet. The Green Bay Packers are coming in as the sixth seed out of the NFC, but don’t let that fool you. They’ve won their last five games going back to the regular season. Their last two losses came with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers out with a concussion.
The Packers bring the No. 5 ranked defense against the pass, led by breakout linebacker Clay Matthews. Matthews had a superb year, tallying 13.5 sacks and being the driving force behind the entire Packers defense. He also finished second in the AP’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting, coming up two votes short of winner Troy Polamalu.
The Steelers are largely considered favorites to win the game (though not according to Las Vegas odds makers). With having so much of their roster still there from five seasons ago, this team has been here before; twice, in fact. They bring the second best overall defense and the stingiest run defense from the regular season.
Ben Roethlisberger himself is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro. His 3,200 passing yards rank as his fourth highest total of his career and he missed the first four games of the season.
Let’s take a look at Ben Roethlisberger’s first Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks in a highly disputed game, 21-10. Many people attribute poor officiating for the Steelers victory.
Ben had a pretty awful game. Although he had a one-yard rushing touchdown, he only completed 43 percent of his passes, threw zero touchdowns and two interceptions. He would finish with a 22.6 rating, the lowest in Super Bowl history by a winning quarterback. But he won, which is all that matters to many people.
Three years later, Ben and the Steelers would return to the Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals. Ben had a similar game as his first appearance until the Steelers’ last drive of the game. With 2:37 left on the clock, Ben led the Steelers down the field for 78 yards on eight plays in two minutes and two seconds. Roethlisberger capped off the drive with a six-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, who made a sensational catch in the corner of the end zone.
Prior to that last drive, Ben had another subpar game. He was 16-of-23 for 172 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. If not for an epic defensive collapse by the Cardinals, Kurt Warner would have been enjoying his second Super Bowl MVP award (31-of-43, 377 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT).
As I said earlier, Ben Roethlisberger is 2-0 in Super Bowl games. However, here are his stats in the two games: 30-of-51 (59 percent), 379 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT with a pedestrian rating of 64.1. The numbers aren’t great by any standard, but all a quarterback is ever judged on is wins and losses. Still, you have to wonder if his poor play in key situations will come back to haunt him.
Ben Roethlisberger will be 29 next season. He has a solid supporting cast of backs and receivers, a rookie phenom of a center anchoring the offensive line and a head coach who seems like he knows the right way to continue the franchise’s historic lineage of winning. Roethlisberger could just be starting his Super Bowl tour.
Big Ben’s biggest obstacle will be the offseason. In 2006, it was the motorcycle accident. In 2009, it was the Lake Tahoe sexual assault incident. Then, last year was a second sexual assault investigation in Georgia.
He’s already served one suspension this past season and has seemed to save his reputation in the city of Pittsburgh. However, if he doesn’t clean up the act for good, he could find himself on the unemployment line (unless Al Davis is still here).
There are three players Ben will always be compared to. The first is Joe Montana.
Joe Montana is widely considered the gold standard when comes to quarterbacks, and rightfully so. Let’s compare Montana’s numbers: 83-of-122 (68 percent), 1,142 yards, 11 TD, 0 INT, with a rating of 158.3. Granted, Montana had four games to play in, but in three of those four he earned MVP honors.
The next player Ben will always be compared to is Terry Bradshaw.
Being the Steelers quarterback, you’re always going to be compared to the franchise leader, Terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw was a Steeler for 14 years. In that time he won four Super Bowls. Here’s a look at his numbers: 49-of-84 (58 percent), 932 Yds, 9 TD, 4 INT, 124.3 rating. Again, he played in four, but he won two MVP awards of his own.
The last comparison would be Tom Brady.
Seemingly, all of this generation’s star quarterbacks are compared to Tom Brady. Love him or hate him, he’s a winner. Brady is 3-1 in Super Bowl games, has won two MVP awards and has some amazing stats to boot: 100-of-155 (65 percent), 1,001 Yds, 7 TD, 1 INT, 127.5 rating.
A win this Sunday puts Ben Roethlisberger at 3-0. At 28 years old, he could end up with at least five. However, without the stats to support him, should he be placed in the same class as the game’s elite Super Bowl-winning signal-callers?