Pittsburgh Steeler Ben Roethlisberger and Indianapolis Colt Peyton Manning began their NFL careers as starters. Both have won Super Bowls. Both have been league MVPs. But who’s the better quarterback?
In most ways, both quarterbacks are evenly matched. Good size, great arm strength, natural leaders...but in some ways Peyton is better, where in other ways Roethlisberger is better.
Year One: Rookie –v- Rookie
One particular area where Roethlisberger has been better is his completion percentage. Sure, Manning has thrown for more yards in every season so far, but that’s because of two simple reasons: Big Ben has been injured, and Eli’s big brother has thrown a lot more passes in each game.
In Manning’s first year, he threw about 35 passes each game, but Roethlisberger threw around 21 passes on any given Sunday.
Manning completed nearly 57 percent of his passes where his AFC-rival, Roethlisberger, completed just over 66 percent of his passes. In Manning’s first season in the NFL, he threw 575 passes and completed 326 of them. In Roethlisberger’s first season, he completed 196 of 295 passes.
In Roethlisberger’s first year, he threw close to an average of 21 passes a game. The Steelers’ receivers averaged a whopping 13 yards per catch in Ben’s rookie campaign. In Indianapolis, the Colts were averaging a very respectable 11 yards per catch in Peyton Manning’s first season.
Year Two: A Season Under Their Belts
In the second season of both of their careers, Manning started all 16 games, whereas Roethlisberger only started 12 games. Despite playing in two fewer games than his rookie season, Roethlisberger came about 200 passing yards away from tying the previous year’s totals, in large part to his increase in yards per completion.
Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft, had about 400 more passing yards in his second season than in his first. Since I was not living in America at that time, I am guessing that the Steelers had a really good running back and really good fullback.
In his second season, Roethlisberger threw fewer completions in fewer attempts. He threw 295 passes and completed 196 of them. Roethlisberger managed to throw for 2,385 yards that season. Peyton Manning had thrown 575 passes and completed 331 of them for 4,135 yards.
Year Three: The Best One Yet
Both Roethlisberger and Manning had very good third seasons. Most, if not all, of their stats increased. Peyton Manning completed 357 of his 571 passes. His completion percentage increased to 62.5 percent, not to mention he threw for 4,413 yards.
Roethlisberger, the former Miami (OH) quarterback, threw for 3,513 yards. He threw 469 passes and completed 280 of them. Roethlisberger’s percentage of completions at the end of the season was 59.7 percent. I think this was the best year yet for both Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning.
In their fourth year, they both had an okay season, but not as good as their third season. Ben Roethlisberger only threw for 3,154 yards and completed 264 passes out of the 404 he tried. In that season, Roethlisberger, the youngest Super Bowl-winning QB, was healthy enough to start 15 out of the 16 games.
The 1998 Heisman runner up completed just over 62 percent of his passes (343 passes out of 547) for 4,134 yards. On the other hand, Pittsburgh’s Gridiron General completed 65.3 percent of his passes.
My Conclusion: Big Ben Rocks
After four years, it looks like the former Tennessee Volunteer, Peyton Manning, is better at the majority of the stats. However, I think the stats would be a lot different if the younger and perhaps more talented Roethlisberger threw about 100 more passes a season. In my opinion, Big Ben is better because I think he just makes better throws and better decisions with the ball.