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Brady and Big Ben

            Forget for a moment Ben Roethlisberger’s questionable past. Focus only on his on-field accomplishments, and you’ll have to admit that when it comes to winning, only one active quarterback does it better than he does: Tom Brady. Yet, while the successes of the two quarterbacks are relatively close, their reputations as great quarterbacks are not.

            Simply talking about active quarterbacks, the debate regarding who’s the best usually boils down to Brady versus Peyton Manning, and Patriot fans resolve the issue by reminding everyone of Brady’s three Super Bowl rings. Case closed. Next in the discussion come, in some order, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, and Tony Romo in a good year. Michael Vick gets some love. And sometime before we exit the Top Ten someone will mention Roethlisberger. Even though his accomplishments track very closely to Brady’s, Roethlisberger doesn’t quite get the recognition he probably deserves.

            Consider: in pure numbers, Roethlisberger completes 63.3 percent of his passes. Brady completes 63.4. Their QB ratings are 93.5 for Brady, 92 for Ben. Yards, TD’s and INT’s favor Brady who’s been in the league longer and throws the ball more often. Suffice to say, Brady’s better. But it’s not night and day. It’s night and dusk.

Meanwhile, Roethlisberger wins 70 percent of his regular season games, second only to Brady’s 76 percent among actives. Roethlisberger has won 80 percent of his playoff games (8-2), slightly ahead of Brady’s 78 percent (14-4). Both have been aided by top defenses and great coaching, but it’s worth noting Roethlisberger’s won with two different head coaches, neither of whom gets the genius label like Bill Belichick.

In his rookie season, Roethlisberger won his first 15 starts, and he did it with extremely similar numbers as Brady’s 2001 season. Then he won his first Super Bowl in his second year. Just like Brady. And when it comes to clutch, we know Brady has gotten it done several times, but his most memorable performances ended with a field goal. Roethlisberger threw a perfect pass with :35 to go to win his second Super Bowl a couple of years ago.

None of this is to say Roethlisberger is as good as Brady. He’s not. But he’s close. And if he happens to win a third Super Bowl before Brady wins a fourth, who in New England will give him credit as Brady’s equal as a leader, a quarterback or a winner? Anyone? Imagine if it were to happen this year. Big Ben and Brady would have an equal number of rings, and a combined six of the last ten, yet one of them (Brady) is likely to be held, not just in slightly higher regard, but much higher. Strange. No?

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