Pittsburgh Steelers: Is Ben Roethlisberger an Elite NFL Quarterback?

Steelers Ben Roethlisberger Completes Pass in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out of the University of Miami (Ohio) with the 11th-overall pick in the 2004 draft. Standing at 6’5″ and weighing 241 pounds, he earned the nickname “Big Ben.”

The year before the draft, the Steelers finished third in the AFC North with a 6-10 record. They failed to make the playoffs. There were definitely questions and doubts circulating around him at the time. His size brought doubts about his speed and footwork and the fact that he went to a small school led people to question whether or not he can handle the pressures of leading an NFL team.

ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski recently released his rankings of the top 32 quarterbacks in the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger was ranked seventh — higher than names such as Eli Manning, Colin Kaepernick and Matthew Stafford, among others. So, this raises the question, is Ben Roethlisberger an “elite” NFL quarterback? Does his name belong with names like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady? Or does he belong with quarterbacks who haven’t yet earned the title “elite” like Matthew Stafford, Phillip Rivers, and Tony Romo?

The 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers finished with a 15-1 record and were the AFC North champions. They made it to the AFC Championship game and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. An unthinkable improvement from the year before.

The biggest story of the season, however, was rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger was the backup quarterback for weeks one and two. Tommy Maddox was the starter until he got injured during the week two game against the Baltimore Ravens. That’s when young Ben Roethlisberger stepped in. He went on to lose that game, then he went on to post a staggering 13-0 regular season record as the starting quarterback. He finished the season with 2,621 yards and 17 touchdowns and a 98.1 quarterback rating.

The next season the Steelers finished with an 11-5 record and earned a wild-card playoff berth. They went on to win Super Bowl XL against the Seattle Seahawks. Two years in the NFL and Ben Roethlisberger had a 28-6 record with an AFC championship and a Super Bowl. He had solidified himself as a force in the league and someone who should be taken very seriously. He showed that he could win games, and he was very good at it.

Roethlisberger has an ability like no other to simply take over a game and be calm, cool and in complete control. He proved this when he led the Steelers to their second Super Bowl in four years against the Arizona Cardinals. Where he orchestrated a 78 yard drive with 2:37 seconds left with the Steelers down by three. He capped it off with a beautiful game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left in the game.

Ten seasons, two Super Bowls, three AFC championships, and six playoff berths. This all points to one conclusion—Ben Roethlisberger is, in fact, elite. He proves that week in and week out and he constantly shows how valuable he is. The Pittsburgh Steelers are just a different team without Roethlisberger, which has been proven throughout the various games in which he didn’t play. Someone who produces so much and is so valuable to his team cannot be called anything but elite.