Saturday, February 5, 2011

Big Ben will lift Pittsburgh to their seventh Super Bowl victory

Ben Roethlisberger doesn't get nearly the amount of respect he deserves for the quarterback that he is.

Forget the off-field controversies of the past two summers. Instead, take a look at what he does on it. He's one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the National Football League, right up there with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Is he elite? You bet.

It may not look pretty,
but Big Ben wins games
In this year's playoffs, the New York Jets faced a trio of great quarterbacks. They knocked off Manning and then Brady in succession -- two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. However, when they got to the last of the three, Big Ben, he was too much for them to handle.

Roethlisberger presents a unique challenge for defenses. He's hard to defend because he can get out of the pocket and extend plays. Even when you do get to Ben -- listed at 6-5 and 241 pounds -- he's hard to bring down.

"This guy keeps just bouncing off of tackles, pushing guys down like a big kid in the playground," said former Giants-defensive end and current Fox NFL analyst, Michael Strahan, on ESPN's The Herd radio show. "They don't call him Big Ben for nothing...He's a big man, he's probably 280 [pounds]. He's a lineman with an arm."

Other than Ben's natural gift of size and ability to break tackles, it's his play-making ability that separates him from the rest. If one were to just look at the box score from the Steelers' victory over the Jets in the AFC Championship, it'd appear Roethlisberger had a terrible performance -- 133 yards, 0 passing TDs and 2 INTs. However, to anyone who watched the game, he was the best player on the field. Behind a beat-up offensive line that had just lost it's best player in rookie pro-bowl center, Maurkice Pouncey, Roethlisberger made the plays when the team needed them in critical situations. None more important than the 14 yard short pass to Antonio Brown on third and six to seal the game and a trip to Dallas for the Steelers.

Ben has made plays like that all season and throughout his career. They don't always look pretty, like they do with Manning or Brady, but he always finds a way to win.

One of my favorite plays all year was during the second meeting between the Steelers and Ravens in Week 13. The Steelers were in the red-zone after a Troy Polamalu strip fumble of Joe Flacco. However, Ravens' linebacker Terrell Suggs blew past Pittsburgh's left tackle, Johnathan Scott, with an easy lane to sack Ben. However, Roethlisberger backpedaled, kept Suggs at arms length, got out of the pocket and side-armed the ball out of bounds to avoid the sack. (WATCH THE PLAY HERE). It's one of the greatest plays of the season that didn't show up on the stat sheet.

Big Ben doesn't play a style that lends himself to put up great stats. He plays on a team where he is able to take risks. With a defense as stout as the Steelers', Ben can afford to chuck it down field on third and short no matter how great the coverage is. If the ball is intercepted, Roethlisberger knows he likely just put the other team's offense on the field deep in their own territory and up against the Steel Curtain.

He may not be the greatest fantasy quarterback but he's an outstanding one in real life. His ugly style of play has put him in the position to win a third super bowl this Sunday, which would put him in very prestigious company.

Some people are counting out the Steelers in this game due to their injuries. However, there's a tremendous amount of Super Bowl experience on this team, a franchise that's only lost one Super Bowl in seven appearances. Aaron Rodgers may be playing at an extremely high level, and he may even be better than Ben on paper. However, Big Ben is the elite quarterback, even if his style of play doesn't quite look like the other ones.

Pittsburgh over Green Bay (20-17)

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