I’m picking the Steelers to win the Super Bowl because even when Ben Roethlisberger is bad, he’s really not bad.
I’m picking the Steelers to win the Super Bowl because even when Ben Roethlisberger is bad, he’s really not bad. Five years ago, he supposedly had the worst game of any winning Super Bowl quarterback in history, but his Win Probability Added against Seattle was higher than the Seahawks’ Matt Hasselbeck. Why?
For starters, he ran for all three of Pittsburgh’s third-down run conversions, including one for a touchdown. And he was 2-for-4 on third downs of at least eight yards, including the biggest play of the game: a scrambling 37-yard pass on third-and-28 that set up the TD that put the Steelers ahead to stay.
In this year’s AFC title game, Mark Sanchez of the Jets had a 102.2 passer rating to Roethlisberger’s 35.5, but Roethlisberger had the higher WPA. Deservedly so. Pittsburgh outgained the Jets 232 yards to 12 in taking a 24-0 lead. Sanchez never threw a second-half pass where the Jets didn’t trail by at least 12 points. Against the Ravens, Roethlisberger passed or ran for a first down on four of eight times he faced third-and-10 or more, including a 58-yard pass on third-and-19 that basically won the game. In one game against arguably the best defense in football, Roethlisberger converted as many third-and-10s as Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has in his playoff career.
Packers in rare company
The Packers head into today’s Super Bowl as one of only eight teams in 45 years not to lose a game by more than four points. Four won the Super Bowl: the 1972 Dolphins (17-0), 1984 49ers (18-1); 1989 49ers (17-2) and the 1991 Redskins (17-2). The three who didn’t win it all are the 1998 Vikings (16-2), 2006 Chargers (14-3) and 2007 Patriots (18-1).
Those seven teams, coldhardfootballfacts.com reports, averaged 1.1 losses in the regular season. The Packers lost six times. The Packers are good enough to beat almost any team fairly easily, but self-destructive enough to lose most close games. And you don’t want to be in a close game with Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger has led 26 game-winning fourth-quarter drives, more than any other NFL player in the first seven years of his career. Nine of those scored the game-winning points in the final 43 seconds. Five others were in overtime.
NFC poor sister to AFC
The AFC has won nine of the past 13 Super Bowls. New Orleans won last year, but the NFC hasn’t won back-to-back Super Bowls since the Broncos upset the Packers to end the NFC’s 13-game Super winning streak 14 years ago. That’s another reason I like the Steelers: They are the champions of a clearly tougher conference.
Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at 815-987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.