life features everything an NFL star could want. At 23, he became
the youngest quarterback to win a Super
Bowl title when he helped Pittsburgh win it all in 2005. He has been
linked to Hollywood starlets, and last March, he signed an eight-year
contract worth $102 million.
Big Ben is living large in Steel City. So why is he so down about
this season? When asked how he’s played, Roethlisberger said, “Um,
OK. Just OK.”
The reality is that Roethlisberger’s career numbers are just
OK. From 2004 to 2008, his completion percentage (.627) ranks 13th
in the NFL. In the same period, he has thrown 97 touchdown passes – six
quarterbacks have surpassed that – and he has the fourth-highest
interception total (66).
With Roethlisberger, you ignore the stats and simply look at the
bottom line – 48 wins, 19 losses as a starter. “He’s
always managed the game and kept them alive,” Cowboys linebacker
Bradie James said. “He’s always made that one big play
when they needed it. That’s what makes him one of the better
players in the league.”
Roethlisberger is having another lackluster season statistically.
He has completed 60.6 percent of his passes and thrown for 13 touchdowns
with 12 interceptions. But when you’re backed by the league’s
No. 1-ranked defense, you don’t have to make spectacular plays.
Routine plays are OK.
Last week’s win at New England was full of examples where
Roethlisberger simply managed the game. He was 10-for-18 for a pedestrian
105 yards in the first half. But the Patriots turned the ball over
in the third quarter on a kickoff. Two plays later, Roethlisberger
fired a pass into double coverage for an 11-yard touchdown to Hines
After another New England turnover, Roethlisberger threw a 19-yard
pass to Heath Miller that pushed the ball to the Patriots’ 7-yard
line. The drive ended with a field goal. Two more turnovers led to
10 more points, and before the Patriots knew what happened, they
were blown out at home, 33-10.
Roethlisberger finished the game 17-for-33 for 179 yards. His longest
pass went for 21 yards. Still, it was a W. “Ben’s probably
his toughest critic,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “For
me, the issue is winning, and the quarterback position, particularly
him, is central to that. “I think you can grade Ben the way
you grade our football team. Right now, we’re 9-3 and we’re
trying to be 10-3.”
Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware cautioned that Roethlisberger is
tough to bring down. “He knows how to make guys miss him and
get the ball down the field,” Ware said. “He’s
a good quarterback.”
The statistics say otherwise. But the scoreboard doesn’t lie.
At 9-3, the Steelers are one of the toughest teams in the AFC, whether
Big Ben has big numbers or not. “I just feel like I’ve
played OK football,” Roethlisberger said. “Not great,
not up to my standards. But we’ve found ways to win, and that’s
what’s important in this league.”
Swann & Stallworth
Named Best WR Tandem by SI