It is time for everyone to give Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger his due. With him, the Steelers are one of the best teams in the NFL. Without him, they are one of the worst. It is that simple.
Football fans have seen this scenario before. A good team is great with its star quarterback. A good team is terrible without its star quarterback. The Indianapolis Colts put on this show last season as they lost their quarterback, Peyton Manning, for an entire season and went 2-14.
When Manning sat out the 2011 season, some claimed he should have been voted NFL Most Valuable Player, because his absence had such a big impact on the Colts. Of course, this was ludicrous as only players who play are valuable. Durability is as important as talent. The first step to getting any job done is showing up.
We are seeing this now with Roethlisberger. Because of his absence, the Steelers offense can not move the ball. He brings no value to Pittsburgh on the sidelines. However, his absence proves how talented he is.
With Roethlisberger as their quarterback, the Steelers have been to three Super Bowls in the previous eight years and won two. Before he suffered a shoulder injury this season, Pittsburgh was 6-3 and on a four game winning streak. Roethlisberger was having one of his best years with 17 touchdown passes against only four interceptions. After a 2-3 start, the Steelers had pulled to within a game of the AFC North leading Baltimore Ravens.
Since Roethlisberger was injured in game number nine against the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh’s offense has all but disappeared. He left in the second quarter of the Chiefs game and the Steelers did not score again until overtime. The winning field goal was set up on an interception by linebacker Lawrence Timmons.
Against Baltimore the following week, the offense, led by Byron Leftwich, scored 10 points. Leftwich was injured in that game and Charlie Batch started Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh’s offense scored seven points. The Steelers lost both games. In 10 quarters of football without Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh offense has put together two touchdown drives. Both were aided by defensive pass interference calls.
Whenever the great quarterbacks in the NFL are discussed, everyone seems to skip over Roethlisberger. He is always called a game manager or perfect for the Steelers despite the fact that no one has led his team to more Super Bowls or won more since he came into the league in 2004. Before Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh had not won a championship in 27 years.
In 2011, Roethlisberger suffered a high ankle sprain and hobbled through the final three weeks of the season. The Steelers struggled and were defeated in the first round of the playoffs by the Denver Broncos. This year, he can not take the field and Pittsburgh’s playoff chances are in serious jeopardy.
Roethlisberger’s injury proves that he is every bit as valuable to his team as Manning was to the Colts and Tom Brady is to the New England Patriots. It, also, proves that he is one of the great quarterbacks in the NFL.
If the Steelers’ struggles offensively have proven anything it is that people need to acknowledge how great a quarterback Roethlisberger is.