Why Big Ben is Still Elite

By Brandon Wallace

SAN DIEGO, CA – Over the last season and a half, presumably longer, there has been a lot of discussion over the up and down play of Pittsburgh Steelers‘ all-pro quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. Does he still have it? Is he overrated? Is his heart still in the game?

I’m here to tell you… Big Ben is everything you want in a franchise quarterback, and more.

Here are three key reasons why I believe Roethlisberger is still elite:

  1. As of Week 7 in the NFL’s 2018 season, Ben Roethlisberger leads the league in passing yards (2,033), and he’s third in completions (170).
  2. Big Ben is averaging about 354 yards per game after averaging about 283 last season. His career high average is about 328 (NY Times).
  3. Since 2004, Big Ben has 40 game-winning drives. That’s tied for 6th all-time, dating back to 1960 (Pro Football Reference). That includes four game-winning drives last season against Indianapolis, Green Bay, Cincinnati, and Baltimore. Not to mention last week’s thriller back in Cincinnati. Oh, did you forget that quickly? Let me refresh your memory:

Ok, so I know what you’re thinking. With every little bit of good, comes a lot a bit of bad with Big Ben. In week 4 this season against the Baltimore Ravens,¬†Roethlisberger was everything but stellar. He finished the game 27/47, 1 TD and 1 INT. He consistently missed open receivers, and this may have been the peak of the “poor Wi-Fi connection” drama among the future Hall of Fame quarterback and his 4x All-Pro wide receiver, Antonio Brown.

Roethlisberger’s inconsistent play dates further back to his 3 INT game in the season opener this year against Cleveland, and even further back to last season’s 5 INT game against Jacksonville in Week 5.

There’s no question, for every couple of “great” games Roethlisberger seems to stream together, he’s due for a game that leaves us scratching our heads. A game that doesn’t seem to match up with his usual dominance and level of play.

One thing is for sure though, the Steelers have lived and died on Big Ben’s “backyard football” style of play for the past 14 seasons. If we’re going to praise Big Ben for back-to-back 6 TD games, for being the only quarterback all-time with 3 500-yard passing games¬†in his career, for his game-winning drive after game-winning drive, then we’re sure as hell going to have to be patient when his connection with his wide receivers is sometimes “spotty;” when he hangs onto the ball just a little too long trying to extend a play; and when he very seldomly throws the ball to the other team with the game on the line. Ben can and will still deliver. He’s capable of game-winning drives and still has championship pedigree. He’s already proved it this season and he will continue to do so moving forward.

Big Ben is elite. I could go on about how he was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2004, how he’s a 2-time Super Bowl winning quarterback, or how he’s a 6x Pro Bowl Selection, but the proof is in the pudding; the “what have you done for me lately” factor. In 2018, Ben Roethlisberger already has three 3-TD passing games and 4 games where his passer rating is over or at least 100.7. He is currently ranked at no. 9 among eligible quarterbacks (34) this season in Total QBR, and he’s tied for 8th in passing touchdowns.

Even with the “consistent inconsistency” that comes from having Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, there’s no quarterback I’d rather have behind center for the Black and Gold and our season is just getting started.


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