Ben Roethlisberger: Does the Steelers Quarterback Deserve the "Elite" Label?

Carl RagsdaleCorrespondent IIIFebruary 13, 2011

Ben Roethlisberger was one drive away from having three Super Bowl victories, which would have tied him with Tom Brady and Troy Aikman for third-most Super Bowl titles of all-time.

One failed fourth-down conversion later, the articles are being pumped out calling Roethlisberger overrated. He is a product of the defense. He is just a game manager.

Because of Roethlisberger's reputation as being one of the best clutch quarterbacks in the NFL, his failure to succeed in the clutch moment of this past Super Bowl is only fueling the fire for those who are going to call Big Ben overrated.

However, people get carried away too easily.

Super Bowl XLV was a huge opportunity for Roethlisberger to prove all of his doubters wrong and show he deserves the praise of being called an elite quarterback.

Did he screw up?

Most definitely.

Does the loss completely alter his legacy?

Absolutely not.

The general public is far too critical of Super Bowl losses. Your team misses the playoffs? It gets completely ignored. Your team makes it to the playoffs, wins two or three playoff games, but loses in the Super Bowl? You become an overrated quarterback.

Didn't Roethlisberger and the Steelers perform far better in 2010 than they did in 2006, when they missed the playoffs and Roethlisberger had the worst statistical season of his career? Most critics of Roethlisberger don't even remember his 2006 season strangely enough.

Also, look at some of the quarterbacks that were on the losing end of a Super Bowl. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Brett Favre have all lost Super Bowls. Jim Kelly, John Elway and Fran Tarkenton have all lost multiple Super Bowls.

Clearly, a quarterback can still be great even if they do lose a Super Bowl, unless you are going to try to argue the quarterbacks on that list don't deserve the 60 Pro Bowl berths, 12 NFL MVP awards and four spots in the Hall of Fame that the seven quarterbacks already have.

One criticism of Roethlisberger is that he is just a game manager, and that he can't post statistics that are on par with Peyton Manning or Dan Marino.

In terms of volume statistics (i.e. passing yards and touchdowns), Roethlisberger is nowhere near the same pace that Marino and Manning had during their careers.

That's because Manning has attempted more than 500 passes in 11 of his 13 NFL seasons and more than 550 passes in eight of his 13 NFL seasons. Marino had more than 500 passing attempts 11 times in 17 seasons and more than 550 pass attempts in seven of those seasons.

Roethlisberger? He's attempted more than 500 passes once in seven years, when he had 506 pass attempts in 2009. In that one season, he had 4,328 passing yards and 26 touchdowns.

Because of the game manager stigma, it often goes unnoticed that Roethlisberger has good passing numbers. His career quarterback rating of 92.5 is the eighth-highest in NFL history. His career 8.0 yards per pass attempt is tied for fourth in NFL history.

Roethlisberger also has had a passer rating of 97 or higher in five of his seven seasons (Manning has only one more despite playing six more years), and Big Ben has thrown for 3,100+ yards for five seasons in a row.

The point here: Roethlisberger's statistics aren't anywhere near as bad as people dress them up to be.

Then there is Super Bowl XL. People love to throw this game in the face of Steelers fans as the prime example of why Roethlisberger is overrated.

The game itself was the worst individual performance by Roethlisberger in his postseason career, but what people forget is that he had three excellent games on the road to get them to that point.

In the Wild Card game against the Bengals, Roethlisberger had three touchdowns, no interceptions and averaged 10.95 yards per pass attempt against a team that had the fifth-lowest quarterback rating allowed that year.

In the Divisional playoff game against the Colts, Roethlisberger had two touchdowns, one interception and averaged 8.21 yards per pass attempt against a team that had the 23rd lowest quarterback rating allowed that year.

In the AFC Conference championship against the Broncos, Roethlisberger had two touchdowns, no interceptions and averaged 9.48 yards per pass against a team that had the fourth-lowest quarterback rating allowed that year.

In the three games collectively, Roethlisberger's passer rating was a 124.8 (of course, that's not anywhere near as good as when Manning had a 70.5 rating in the postseason where the Colts won the Super Bowl).

That's just comparing statistics. How about Roethlisberger's comebacks?

Since 2004, Roethlisberger has 25 game-winning drives, including two playoff games and a Super Bowl.  

Did he fall short in this past Super Bowl?


But how does that diminish any of his other accomplishments?

One other thing to keep in mind is that Roethlisberger is only 28 years old. He still has plenty of time to keep adding to his list of accomplishments.

Is he a great quarterback now?


Will he go down as one of the greatest ever?

He is on pace to do so, but only time will tell.