Aside from being a great football game, Super Bowl XLIII also served to pose a couple questions, People asked:
Is Kurt Warner now worthy of the Hall of Fame?
Is Ben Roethlisberger an elite QB in today's game?
The first question is a tough call, but the second is anything but. So, to me, it's surprising that so few outside of Pittsburgh know the real answer: Yes, Big Ben is elite.
I've commented on articles about Roethlisberger before. Strangely, it seems that every time someone replies to affirm my positive statements about the Steelers quarterback, they're from the Pittsburgh area.
I click on their Bleacher Report profile, and whaddya know? They're a Steelers fan.
Not that the originators of the Terrible Towel do not have a valid opinion on it; it is their team and it is their QB, but there is nonetheless always a tendency by some to discredit hometown fans on the basis of assumed bias.
The funny thing is, it seems that many people's opinions of Big Ben have worsened after this year. Can somebody really think less of a QB after winning a Super Bowl?
It seems that these people who are underrating the accomplishment of winning a championship are fans of teams that haven't won one. Eagles and Bengals supporters are some of the noisiest, though their teams have had only modest success recently.
Roethlisberger's individual stats from this past season are used as "proof" of deficiency, but detractors don't take into account just what he was facing.
I guess it's just a philosophical difference. But wouldn't it give a better perspective to look at team stats as well? After all, if a team's running game gets no respect, it affects how defenses play the pass. If Ben has less time to throw, he is more likely to get hurried or even hit, perhaps directly resulting in an incompletion or turnover.
And it's not like drops are accounted for in terms of completion percentage.
I think some look at the success that Ben Roethlisberger has had in such a short time and wonder why their QB hasn't been able to do it.
I'll be honest with you: Odds are (depending on who your signal caller is) it's mostly because he just isn't as good.
Roethlisberger has had an amazing first five years in the league, impressing in the regular season and even more in the postseason. In my opinion, his status as one of the best in the league is certain.
In just five years, he's earned two rings. If you haven't been living under a rock, there's a good chance you rolled your eyes at that, but it must be mentioned.
It's a huge accomplishment. There is a reason that no starting quarterback in the league today not named Tom Brady has done that: It's very hard.
Big Ben has been to three AFC Championship games, has a record of 8-2 in the Playoffs, and may very well have a more extensive postseason resume if not for his injury-plagued season in 2006.
The best players shine when the spotlight is the brightest, and Ben has consistently shined in tough situations, as evidenced by not only his late-winter success but also that he already has 19 come-from-behind victories.
In the past few years, if Ben had the ball late in a close game, it was over. This year puts the icing on the cake because of what Big Ben had to work with.
Does anybody know why Peyton Manning won the MVP this past year? After all, Phillip Rivers, Kurt Warner, and Drew Brees all put up undoubtedly better stats.
I mean, if you replace Phillip Rivers' 34 TD and 11 INT with Manning's 27 TD and 12 INT, there's no way the San Diego Chargers win the AFC West, right?
If Drew Brees' 5,069 yards, 34 TD, and 17 INT are replaced by Peyton Manning's 4,002 yards and the TD/INT numbers from above, the Saints wouldn't have hung around in the Playoff race as long as they did, right?
People that watched football this year know that Manning was coming off knee surgery, playing with a banged-up offensive line, a hurt Joseph Addai and Dallas Clark, a washed-up Marvin Harrison, and a shaky defense. The Colts still went 12-4. Peyton Manning won the MVP and deserved it.
When people talk about Ben Roethlisberger's regular season, though, the attitude seems to radically change. Now, I am not arguing that he should have won MVP; I said already that Peyton Manning deserved it.
But it seems too many people that want to discredit Ben Roethlisberger's achievements only want to talk about the great defense.
They never want to mention the fact that Ben Roethlisberger was playing behind an awful offensive line, or that Willie Parker was a non-factor for most of the regular season due to injuries, or that their two high draft picks meant to improve the offense (Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed) had virtually no impact on the offense this season.
And the fact that Pittsburgh played a tougher schedule than any team in the league and still went 12-4? Completely ignored.
With a solid supporting cast, Roethlisberger can put up elite numbers. I know this because just a year ago, when Willie Parker was healthy and Alan Faneca was on the offensive line, he proved it. His 32 TD were third in the NFL ahead of even Peyton, and his QB rating was second behind only Tom Brady.
Don't 101 TD to 69 INT over five years, combined with his incredible clutch play in late December, January, and early February push Ben Roethlisberger over the top into the realm of the superlative?
Tony Romo and Phillip Rivers are two highly touted starting quarterbacks that haven't delivered when it counts nearly as much as Ben has. Heck, Romo's team has been absolutely loaded for the last couple years, as has Rivers' (until the defense fell off this past year), so why don't they have anywhere near the same success the Steelers QB has had?
How would Jay Cutler and Kurt Warner fare if they weren't playing in bad divisions and weren't given great talent at wide receiver? How would their stats differ if they weren't givne the keys to a high-octane offense, and what would the Broncos' and Cardinals' records look like?
How does Carson Palmer do with a bad offensive line? How has Donovan McNabb and the Eagles fared when Westbrook has been hurt and ineffective?
All teams have their strengths and weaknesses; there is no reason for Big Ben to be punished for having a great defense. It's a mighty struggle for any team to win a Super Bowl, and led by Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been more successful than any other team since he came into the league.
Fortunately, my team faced the champs last year and won't have to worry about Roethlisberger and the gang for a few years (barring an improbable Super Bowl matchup), but for those lucky winners that do, you better hope that your team gets a big lead somehow.
If not, odds are that Ben will take the game away from you, as he has done many times already in a young career.
You also better hope that the supporting cast doesn't improve, or he will put up numbers comparable to 2007 once again.
I do not like the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the football fan in me appreciates Ben Roethlisberger, already an elite quarterback in today's game and well on his way to being a Hall of Famer.