I was all set to write a post about how I would pick Tom Brady to lead my team into a conference championship game and beyond – to build a franchise around. However, most inconveniently, the New England Patriots managed to lose to the New York Jets, thereby ruining my article thesis. I’m sure that Tom Brady is heartbroken to have ruined my article, and I have no doubt that I will receive an apology letter from him as soon as he’s done crying on the shoulder of his supermodel wife.
So, after the Patriots game I still had to figure out which one of the four remaining starting quarterbacks I would want leading my team. Which quarterback did I settle on? None other than Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Some people may read this and wonder how I can write in support of Roethlisberger, but it’s important to note that this topic has nothing to do with off-field behavior at all. It is all about who I think will produce when championship moments are at hand, and I believe Roethlisberger will.
Honestly, I believe the most compelling argument I have in Big Ben’s favor is the fact that he has already produced in big postseason moments – he has two Super Bowl rings to prove that. The three other quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs (Mark Sanchez, Aaron Rodgers, and Jay Cutler) do not have the level of playoff seasoning that Roethlisberger does.
The stats speak for themselves. He was the first quarterback in league history to start two conference championship games in his first two seasons in the league. He has 19 fourth-quarter comeback victories. This will be his fourth conference championship game. The most important statistic here, though, is the one that I’ve already mentioned – two Super Bowl rings.
Beyond the statistics, I think Roethlisberger’s style on the field fits post-season football very well. He is a master at keeping the play alive and a master at improvisation in the pocket as well. Have you ever noticed what happens when teams blitz Roethlisberger? If it’s a defensive back who gets to him first the ensuing sack attempt often looks like a little kid trying to tackle their dad in backyard football. Big Ben certainly earned the first part of his nickname, but he isn’t just big – he uses that size to his advantage.
Circling back to the statistics that bear out his “cornerstone QB” credentials, I have already pointed out that he has two rings. However, look back at the way he won his second Super Bowl ring. He led a clutch, late-game drive to win the Super Bowl. The list of quarterbacks who have led late drives to win the Super Bowl is a short list, and the fact that Roethlisberger’s name appears on that list seems to qualify him for cornerstone quarterback status.
View Roethlisberger’s resume alongside the resumes of the other three remaining quarterbacks, Big Ben’s is much stronger than theirs for this type of debate. He may not have the gaudiest statistics or the most highlight reel plays, but he’ll make the play when it counts – and that’s what you want out of a quarterback.