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Which Steelers QB1 Was Better? Ben Roethlisberger or Terry Bradshaw?

Clutch Points

Which Steelers QB1 Was Better? Ben Roethlisberger or Terry Bradshaw?

Did you know, out of the eight Super Bowl appearances the Pittsburgh Steelers have been in all-time, seven of them had just two quarterbacks under center? It was the legendary Terry Bradshaw, who was a part of the Steelers from 1970 to 1983, and Ben Roethlisberger, who played for Steeles from 2004 to 2021. He announced his retirement from NFL in January 2022.

Both of these quarterbacks were successful and made a great name for themselves. In fact, both are considered rivals of each other. How? Steeler Nation compares both of them and evaluate who was better than the other to this day.

Well, today we too will dive into the debate and come to a constructive conclusion.

A Glimpse of the Illustrious Careers of Steelers’ Quarterbacks, Roethlisberger and Bradshaw

To date, Pittsburgh has had two extraordinary quarterbacks in Roethlisberger and Bradshaw. Let us study the career of both of these exceptional players.

First up, Bradshaw.

Terry Paxton Bradshaw was the first overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft. During his first season with the Steelers, Bradshaw was ridiculed for his rural roots and erratic matches. However, he proved his worth in a matter of a few years. He led Pittsburgh to eight AFC Central Championships and proved as an asset by winning four Super Bowl titles. Bradshaw also won Super Bowl MVP twice.

Steelers Terry Bradshaw

Terry Bradshaw (#12) | Behind the Steel Curtain

Bradshaw was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1978 and became the NFL’s passing touchdowns leader in 1978 and 1982. Sports Illustrated in 1979 named him “Sportsman of the Year” as well. Today, Bradshaw is part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame, and Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Honor. He was the recipient of the Bert Bell Award, which he received in 1978.

When it comes to his stats, Bradshaw threw for 212 touchdowns, 210 interceptions, 27,989 passing yards, 32 rushing touchdowns, and 2,257 rushing yards. Bradshaw had a 70.9 passer rating.

Next up, Roethlisberger.

Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger Sr. also known as “Big Ben” spent his collegiate career with the Miami (OH) RedHawks. During his time in college, Roethlisberger was named Freshman of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and Offensive Player of the Year. 

In the 2004 NFL Draft, Roethlisberger was drafted just behind Eli Manning. When the San Diego Chargers drafted Manning, it was speculated that Roethlisberger would be drafted by New York Giants. But the Giants drafted Philip Rivers as a part of the trade deal. This sent Manning to the Giants and Rivers to the Chargers. Thus, Pittsburgh got the chance and they selected Roethlisberger as 11th overall.

Roethlisberger led the Steelers to two Super Bowl victories during his time with the franchise. He was also named NFL Rookie of the Year in 2004. He was part of the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 2004, went to the Pro Bowl six times, and was named NFL Passing Yards Leader twice.

Ben Roethlisberger (#7) | Gene J. Puskar / AP

Roethlisberger holds the record for Most Career 500-Yard Passing games, Most Career Perfect Passer Rating Games, and “Most Completions in a Regular or Post Season Game.”

His career in NFL statistics speaks for itself. He has 8,443 passing attempts, 418 touchdowns, 211 interceptions, and 64,088 passing yards. He also had a 93.5 passer rating.

After the retirement of Bradshaw, the Steelers didn’t have any worthful quarterbacks for a long time. After Big Ben joined Steelers, they regained their past glory.

Similarities between the two quarterbacks?

One of the biggest similarities between both stars is their arm strength. Similar to Major League Baseball star Nolan Ryan, both Bradshaw and Roethlisberger’s strong arms compare to the pitching grip and strength of Ryan. Similar to how hard Nolan Ryan threw in baseball, both Bradshaw and Roethlisberger had cannons for an arm.  Most would agree that Bradshaw had a little more arm strength than Roethlisberger.

Bradshaw had a 13 year career in Pittsburgh, while Roethlisberger played for 18 seasons. Roethlisberger has the slight edge in career awards and records. Bradshaw is part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, whereas, Roethlisberger would be eligible for it in 2027. As mentioned earlier, Bradshaw however, is part of the College Football Hall of Fame, and Roethlisberger isn’t.

Let’s be honest! Both Roethlisberger and Bradshaw deserve praise and applause for being incredible quarterbacks on the same team during different years. Even Steeler Nation has to agree about their efforts and contributions!

With a side-by-side comparison however, Roethlisberger is ahead of Bradshaw. Roethlisberger was a phenomenal quarterback and so was Bradshaw, but critics believe that Roethlisberger could have been a phenomenal player if he played in the Terry Bradshaw era. The same cannot be said for Bradshaw.

Final Verdict

By no means are we are indicating that Bradshaw couldn’t be a successful quarterback in the modern National Football League, but it’s likely he would be more of a serviceable game manager. The same however cannot be spoken for Roethlisberger.

Both are great quarterbacks who had phenomenal career. But our slight vote is for Ben Roethlisberger for sure!


What do yinz think? Roethlisberger or Bradshaw? Click to comment below!



Author Bio:
Scott Trick is the founder of  Scott has been collecting sports cards since the early 80’s.  He loves all sports and all cards and treats them like art.  His favorite players are Robin Yount, Hank Aaron, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brett Favre.  It’s pretty obvious he is from the Milwaukee area.



  1. George Perry

    April 22, 2022 at 8:44 am

    Bradshaw by a mile. Called his own plays.

  2. Robert A. Dunfee

    April 22, 2022 at 6:08 pm

    Bradshaw. Just ask him

  3. Michael Keim

    April 22, 2022 at 6:38 pm

    Both were great. I think you really can’t say one is better than the other. Both played in different time. But I believe the team Bradshaw was on was the better team.

  4. Old School

    April 24, 2022 at 8:49 pm

    It’s not even close: Bradshaw might be the greatest of them all in big games. Just watch the Super Bowls (even IX) and you’ve got your answer.

  5. Jeremy

    April 25, 2022 at 7:50 am

    Bradshaw superbowls are all that matter.

  6. James Barnhart

    April 25, 2022 at 5:55 pm

    Bradshaw had the best season, but Roethlisberger was much more consistent, so I have to go with Roethlisberger, for sure. Bradshaw had the better supporting cast, so he won more titles. Not because he was better.

  7. James Barnhart

    April 25, 2022 at 5:58 pm

    Ben called his own plays in the highly successful no-huddle offense.

  8. Phil Balmet

    April 26, 2022 at 11:03 am

    I remember watching Terry bats birds of play and he never made me as nervous as Rothlisberger does especially in the last quarter of a game. Although Ben’s stats are impressive I think this is mainly due to the amount of games and years he played. Anyway although Ben was a great quarterback if he tried as hard in the first half as he did in the fourth quarter he never would’ve lost the game. I give the slight edge to Terry Bradshaw.

  9. Bob Davidson

    April 26, 2022 at 4:38 pm

    The Steelers of the 70’s had better players on both sides of the ball

  10. John stayer

    April 26, 2022 at 10:30 pm

    Bradshaw…both outstanding

  11. John stayer

    April 26, 2022 at 10:33 pm

    Bradshaw…both outstanding, but the more he was beat up the harder he played. Ben was a force also..

  12. Randy

    April 26, 2022 at 11:09 pm

    Bradshaw no contest . I’ve been watching the Steelers for 50 yrs . Saw both of them many times at 3 rivers and Heinz . Bradshaw had better arm and called plays himself . 4 rings , 2 SB MVP ‘s . Case closed .

  13. Michael Marshall

    June 5, 2022 at 2:05 am

    Big Ben was better. But one has to remember that he played in an era where the defensive rules were different. Both should be remembered as clutch players! It was a privilege to see them throughout their careers in Pittsburgh.

  14. Gerard Newsom

    June 5, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    Bradshaw, hands down.

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