A Look Back at Brady vs Big Ben

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A little less than 24 hours from now the Patriots will have raised the 2014 Super Bowl Champions banner, and we will be on to the 2015 season.

Their matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers is a historic one. There are the pre-game festivities, the fact that it’s the first NFL game of the year, and the historical significance of another meeting between these two quarterbacks.

Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger are about to write themselves into the NFL record books once again. Brady and Roethlisberger have a combined 9 Super Bowl starts, the most in NFL history by two opposing QBs in a regular season matchup.

The previous high was 8, which had been three times previously: Brady vs Manning in 2014, Brady vs Big Ben in in 2013, and Joe Montana vs Jim Kelly in 1994.

Seeing that this qualifies as an epic quarterback battle, let’s take a look at the previous six times that these two have faced each other:

Win/Loss Record: Brady has the upper hand on Roethlisberger in the all important win category. Brady is 4-2 in his career against Roethlisberger, and 7-2 in his career versus the Steelers. Brady is also 2-0 at home against Pittsburgh, which bodes well for tomorrow night’s game.

Stat Line: Both Roethlisberger and Brady put up good numbers when facing each other. Brady has been unstoppable against Pittsburgh in his career, with a tremendous touchdown to interception ratio of 20-3. On average, he throws for 375 yards per game at home against the Steelers to go along with 11 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. His success even dates back to the days when the Steelers were fielding one of the leagues stingiest defenses. Roethlisberger has performed well against New England’s defense too, averaging 384 yards and 9 touchdowns in his last 3 times out against the Pats.

The Games: The Patriots and Steelers have had their fair share of intriguing games when you look back at it. We will start in Ben’s first year (2004), and go from there:

*disclaimer: tons of Patriots bias.

2004 AFC Championship Game (34-20 Patriots): Steelers fans won’t remember this one fondly, as they blew an opportunity to reach the Super Bowl on their home turf. The Patriots got out to a 24-3 halftime lead and never looked back, capped by two big plays by two familiar faces. First, there was Deion Branch barely beating the Steelers coverage for a 60-yard bomb early on, and the backbreaker was Rodney Harrison’s 87-yard INT return for a touchdown right before the half. Steelers fans look away, but Patriots fans you will see Branch’s catch at 0:14 of this clip, and Harrison’s return at 1:07:

Week 3, 2005 (23-20 Patriots): This one goes down as the closest game in the matchup. In typical Tom Brady fashion the quarterback drove the team down the field in less than two minutes to setup, you guessed it, and Adam Vinatieri game-winning field goal. Vinatieri added another to his historic list of game winners in one of the hardest stadiums to kick in.

Week 14, 2007 (34-13 Patriots): This game makes the list because Tom Brady threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns, including not one, but two to Randy Moss. The Patriots made it look easy on their way to 16-0 in Pittsburgh, as Moss and Wes Welker both were huge factors (as well as Jabar Gaffney). The play of the game? A 63-yard TD catch by Moss that saw him streak right past all 11 Steelers players untouched, with nobody even close to him when he catches the ball. Do yourself a favor and watch this entire Moss highlight, but if you just want to see the catch turn to 5:44:

Week 10, 2010 (39-26 Patriots): I like to call this game the Gronk coming out party. Gronk rose to the Sunday night stage with three touchdowns catches, showing off a variety of different ways he can beat you. He had just three touchdowns combined in the previous nine games of 2010.

Week 9, 2013 (55-31 Patriots): In the most recent matchup between the two teams it was all Patriots from the beginning. The Patriots offense scored 55 points, racked up 610 yards, and had four players eclipse 100 yards of either rushing or receiving. Gronk, Aaron Dobson, and Danny Amendola all broke 100 yards receiving, while Stevan Ridley ran for over 100 as well. At the time, the Patriots offense hadn’t been its usual dynamic self, but the Patriots managed to score the most points by any team in the 2013 season.

In order to be fair, I will mention the two wins the Steelers got over Brady over the last decade. First, Big Ben actually got the better of Brady in his rookie season, as the Steelers picked Brady off twice in a 34-20 victory. Then came the night before Halloween in 2011 when the Steelers edged the Patriots 25-17.

If history repeats itself things are looking up for the Patriots in their season opener. Especially when you factor in the missing pieces for the Steelers on offense.

Le’Veon Ball and Maurkice Pouncey are the big names, but they will also be without second year receiver Martavis Bryant. Bryant’s absence actually makes a shocking difference in Big Ben’s numbers:

 

Ben Roethlisberger with/without Martavis Bryant

2014 Season

                         With      Without

Games               10             6

Pass YPG         335.9          265.5

TD-INT             24-6           8-3

Fantasy PPG   21.24         14.29

 

Nevertheless, tomorrow night marks the start of another season of football, and Steelers fans and Patriots fans alike can cheers to that.