February 06, 2011
Greatest Quarterback Debate Tabled For Now
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Green Bay Packers did the pro football world a wonderful service, and we all owe them one.
Nobody outside of western Pennsylvania, especially the good people of New England, wanted to see Ben Roethlisberger win a third Super Bowl. Winning that third Vince would have opened up debate regarding Big Ben and Tom Brady, which of the two is the real quarterback of the 2000s. The people of Indianapolis are happy, too, as they still believe Peyton Manning is the best thing since the real best quarterback in Colt history, Johnny Unitas.
But the rest of the nation is most likely still disgusted at Roethlisberger, who was arrested on sexual assualt charges last spring. The charges were dropped, but prevailing sentiment for Roethlisberger has been mostly adverse since that incident despite the presumption of innocence in our nation. Roethlisberger is no longer the feel-good story he was when he was a rookie in 2004, winning his first 15 regular season games. Instead, he is like Michael Vick minus the conviction, and Vick seems to have gotten more vindication than Roethlisberger because Vick did pay his debt to society.
Instead, it was Aaron Rodgers and the Packers who came away from Super Bowl XLV covered in glory. Rodgers fired three touchdown passes in his first Super Bowl, and came away with game MVP honors as the Packers outlasted the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25 at Cowboys Stadium, the first Super Bowl ever played in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
The Steelers made things interesting, almost pulling off a record Super Bowl rally. Pittsburgh trailed at one point, 21-3, and did get as close as three points in the fourth quarter. Twice in history the winning team rallied from ten points down, the last being New Orleans last year.
But turnovers bedeviled the Steelers all game long. The Steelers committed four turnovers, and Green Bay converted them into 21 points. The margin of victory for Green Bay would have been greater had the Packers not had as many dropped passes as Pittsburgh had turnovers. Jordy Nelson had two dropped passes, and James Jones dropped a sure touchdown pass early in the third quarter.
Rodgers finished with 24 of 39 passing for 304 yards and a 111.5 rating. Despite being hit often all night long by the Steeler defense, he never wilted and did not throw an interception. Rodgers was sacked three times, but never lost his poise and led his team like he'd been on this stage many times over. He also showed a great deal of maturity in dealing with the many drops by his receivers, never losing his cool and remaining in control.
Roethlisberger is knocked often times for his bad numbers in victory. He completed 25 of 40 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns. But his two interceptions knocked his passer rating down to 77.4. Big Ben is noted for being able to negate several poor plays by making a big play when he has to (ask Baltimore, they'll agree with you). On Sunday night, he made some good plays in bringing his team back, but in the end he simply did not make enough.
The debate over Roethlisberger's place in history gives Patriot Nation a look at what the other side thinks when Brady is judged. Patriot fans bristle when fans in other cities champion the cause for other quarterbacks who put up gaudy numbers but don't win championships. Roethlisberger is a quarterback who epitomizes the concept "win ugly". It's never about how you win as long as you win.
But fans of Manning, Dan Marino, and perhaps Dan Fouts and Jim Kelly, hate quarterbacks who win without the big numbers, and hate anyone who desecrates their big number quarterbacks. Miami fans perhaps have more reason to gripe than Indianapolis fans, as Marino is second all-time in passes completed, passing yards and passing touchdowns (trails Brett Favre in all three categories), but since Marino lost the only Super Bowl he played in, many fans don't put Marino in the highest pantheon of great quarterbacks. Manning has one Super Bowl win, but he is becoming more famous for his postseason failures than his one success.
The fact that Brady remains ahead of Roethlisberger in Super Bowl wins is huge for Patriot Nation. For at least one more season, you cannot rank Roethlisberger ahead of Brady. If you compare the two careers, Brady blows Roethlisberger out of the water. But three Super Bowl wins each would cast some doubt on Brady's superiority by the national doting football public.
Roethlisberger's legal issues are really irrelevant. All that does is make non-Steeler fans happier that he didn't win the whole thing in the season after he allegedly raped a girl in Milledgeville, Georgia last March. Despite not being charged, the accuser did not recant her charges and Roger Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for six games in the 2010 season, later reduced to four games. But this incident, combined with a similar incident in 2008 at Lake Tahoe (where charges again were not brought), casts Roethlisberger in a negative light.
What would have made this a real unique Super Bowl is if Philadelphia had made the Super Bowl and not Green Bay. Then you would have had Roethlisberger versus Vick, and one of the two bad boys would have had to win. Vick, who served time in federal prison on charges related to dog fighting and animal abuse, gained a bit of props this season as he took over for Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb to become the entrenched starter for the Eagles. But not everyone is enthralled with Vick's comeback, especially dog lovers nationwide. The quarterback issue would have completely overshadowed the specter of an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl.
But Green Bay won it. The Packers last won a Super Bowl at the expense of your Patriots. Rodgers won a Super Bowl MVP, something that Favre did not do. The Packers overcame a game-ending collarbone injury to Charles Woodson and still won the world championship. The trophy named for the iconic Packer head coach of yesterday comes back home for the fourth time. Packer fans are admired by most everyone nationwide, and even though most folks up here thought their team would be the AFC representative, no one in these parts should be sorry that Packer Nation is celebrating tonight.
The Steelers have six Super Bowl wins, but the Packers have 13 NFL championships, most in league history. The Packers and Celtics both dominated their sports in the 1960s, and both teams lead their leagues in championships won. And they both wear green jerseys.
Six days from now, ball meets bat and the smell of leather prevails in the Florida air. Life is good.
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