Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: Why He's The Opposite Of Clutch

Alex CurtlandCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

It's a common mistake sportswriters and analysts often make—if a player is on a good (or great) team, then because of that team's success, that player is viewed as being great. 

Even championship teams have weak links.  And it puzzles me why so many sportswriters believe Ben Roethlisberger is a strong link.

First off, to clarify to Steeler fans, I do not believe "Big Ben" is a bad quarterback, or even a mediocre quarterback.  He is a top-10 QB in this league.

But because of his two rings, he is grouped into a very prestigious group of QBs that he does not belong in.

To compare Ben with a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning is absurd—Manning and Brady are winners, leaders.  Ben is not.

Vince Lombardi had this to say on winners: "(Winners) are willing to go longer, work harder, give more than anyone else."

A great QB is able to put his team on his shoulders, make up for mistakes the team has made and lead the team to victory. 

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So far in his career, Ben has not done that.

Steelers faithful will point to the Super Bowl win against the Arizona Cardinals to negate the previous statement.  Ben put together a great final drive, throwing a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with just over two minutes left to win the game. 

But Ben seems to get all the credit for that drive, when it should be Holmes who is credited. 

Holmes had 73 receiving yards and a touchdown on that drive.  He picked up a key 3rd-and-6 early in the drive and his 40-yard reception put the Steelers in the red zone. 

Holmes beating the Cardinals coverage was the reason behind the now infamous touchdown drive, not any great play Ben made. 

He just saw his No. 1 option open and threw him the ball; Holmes did the real work. 

It was a great drive, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.  The rest of Ben's playoff resume tells a much different story. 

That drive against the Cardinals aside, Ben has never played well in the big game. 

His first Super Bowl victory came against the Seahawks, where Ben completed 40 percent of his passes for 123 yards, no touchdowns and two picks. 

In the recent Super Bowl against the Packers, Ben's awful start (two picks, one for a touchdown) put the Steelers in too deep a hole for them to recover. 

In the 2004 AFC Championship against the Patriots, Ben threw three picks in a defeat.  In the 2010 AFC Championship Game against the Jets, Ben threw for only 133 yards with no touchdowns and two picks. 

Still need more evidence? 

Ben has two rings, so we assume he must be a clutch quarterback.  In reality, it's the Steelers' great defense that has brought them their championships. 

Terry Bradshaw has four rings, but he is left off numerous "top QB" lists because his defense earned him those rings.  Again, he was not a bad QB, but he was not the main reason behind Pittsburgh's titles.

Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and Co. are just as good as the "Steel Curtain" defense the Steelers had in the 70s, but Ben still receives the majority of the accolades. 

Michael Wilbon of ESPN's PTI program made this point about Ben: He wins.  His personal stats don't matter because the most important stat of all is wins. 

Valid point, but again, it's the defense earning those wins, not Ben.  If wins were all that mattered, Jake Delhomme would be a HOF (okay, maybe not a HOF, but at least a Pro Bowler).  But personal stats do matter, because typically, good personal stats translate into a victory.

Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson both won Super Bowls because of the great defenses they had.  People recognize this, and thus no one groups them in with other Super Bowl-winning QBs such as Drew Brees or Peyton Manning.

Perhaps it's because he was a high draft pick. Perhaps it's because he plays for one of the most storied franchises in the NFL.

But for whatever reason, Ben is in the same discussion as Manning or Brady. 

Don't be fooled by his jewelry, America.  There's nothing "big" about Ben's play in the big game.