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Dan Levy
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Dan Levy

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Take Old Over Big

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It's hard to argue against a guy who, for his career, is 51-20 in the regular season and 7-2 in the post season, having led his team to two Super Bowls in four years.

That said, it's hard to argue against a guy who has helped resurrect two moribund franchises in his career, leading those teams to Super Bowls while at the helm of two of the most dynamic offenses in the last 50 years.

But that guy, until this season, started just 42 games in SIX years, compiling a record of 13-29 during that span. Until this season he hadn't suited up for a playoff game since 2001.

And he's the Hall of Famer.

That's the crazy thing about this Super Bowl -- it might be for the Hall of Fame. With three trips to the Super Bowl, and a great story to enhance his credentials on the field, Warner may have stamped his ticket already. But could you imagine Ben Roethlisberger as a Hall of Famer? People in Pittsburgh aren't even sure he's the best quarterback on his own team.

A few months back, when it was clear 'Big Ben' was playing hurt, Steelers fans were blaming him for losing winnable games and calling for him to be benched. And yes, there are fans in Pittsburgh who, THIS WEEK, started message board threads with comments like:

Can we PLEASE start Leftwich in the Super Bowl?

Now, one crazy fan does not echo the sentiments of an entire city, but when you look at the Steelers over the last few years, Roethlisberger has only thrown the ball 25 times a game, relying instead on the defense and running game to succeed. Ben's only job since coming into the league has been to not make mistakes. And frankly, he hasn't even been so great at that. In their two playoff losses under his direction, 'Big Ben' has thrown three interceptions in both. In nine playoff games, he has thrown two or more picks four times -- including two picks and zero touchdown passes in the Super Bowl -- and has thrown for more than 300 yards just once.

If there was still any doubt to this question, it should have been answered two weeks ago. Facing a ball-hawking defense that was not only the best in the NFC, but playing as well as any squad in the recent history of the franchise, Kurt Warner thrashed the Eagles for 279 yards on 21-28 passing and four touchdowns. Heck, Warner even caught a pass for four yards. He looked unstoppable in the first half, and when the Cardinals needed a late drive to put the game away, he was a master orchestrator.

In the late game, facing a Baltimore defense every bit as stout as Philadelphia's, Roethlisberger was 16-33 for 255 and one touchdown -- a touchdown that was one of the worst decisions a quarterback could make. Watch the replay of his 65-yard pass to Santonio Holmes. In the end zone camera view, you can see that when the ball was thrown, Holmes was completely covered and the pass was just chucked up for grabs. That ball had just as good a chance of being intercepted and returned for a touchdown the other way. But the defender slipped, Holmes made several spectacular moves, and the Steelers went up 13-0 instead of being down 7-6.

Of course, Phil Simms lauded Ben for getting out of trouble and finding the open man. Because he's big. And tough. And a competitor. But watching from home, that play was a microcosm of Roethlisberger's career so far -- more luck than skill.

By Dan Levy  |  January 28, 2009; 12:01 PM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Dan Levy , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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