'Elite QBs' headline today's game
By Mike Bires, Times Sports Staff
Published: Sunday, September 21, 2008 12:01 AM EDT
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PHILADELPHIA — In boxing, different styles often make for great fights. If that theory is applied to the quarterbacks winging it today at Lincoln Financial Field, it promises to be quite a football game.
In the green jersey will be hometown favorite Donovan McNabb. A 10-year veteran, he’s the evasive scrambler in a West Coast offense who doesn’t mind running with the football.
In the white jersey will be Ben Roethlsberger, a rising star making his first regular-season appearance in Philadelphia.
By no means is Roethlisberger a classic drop-back passer. He operates an offense that’s still based heavily on the running backs. But when he throws, it’s usually with accuracy and production.
As the NFL enters Week 3, Roethlisberger leads the league with a 133.9 passer rating. He’s also first with a 76.5 percent completion rate.
“I’ve known Ben since his rookie year,” said McNabb, a former option quarterback at Syracuse. “We’ve been communicating back and forth since then. We are very big supporters of each other.
“Obviously, him winning the Super Bowl and getting that big check, he owes me some money. I’m just happy for the success that he has had in Pittsburgh.”
McNabb, 31, has had his share of success, too. He’s played in five Pro Bowls and holds numerous team records and a few NFL records as well. He’s led the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game four times and the Super Bowl once.
Marty Mornhinweg, the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, believes that “Donovan has a chance to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer. There is little left (for him) to do here.”
Actually, there’s a lot McNabb wants to accomplish before calling in a career. He wants to win a championship. So far, he’s 1-3 in NFC title games and 0-1 in the Super Bowl.
“I’ve had a great 10 years in Philadelphia,” said McNabb, who’s battled through injuries in each of the past three seasons. “It’s had its ups and downs, a lot more ups than downs. It’s been a whirlwind. The things that I have set out to accomplish are obviously bringing a Super Bowl championship to Philadelphia.
“What better way than for Pennsylvania to have two Super Bowl champions in less than (four years). I would love to be a part of that. I’d love to be able to ride down Broad Street, hoisting up that (Vince Lombardi) trophy and hearing our fans cheering the Eagles chant.”
Maybe today’s game at “The Linc” will be a Super Bowl preview. The last time these two teams met — Nov. 7, 2004 — both went on to have sensational seasons. The Steelers made it to the AFC title game where they lost to the New England Patriots. The Eagles made it to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Pats.
Speaking of that game, it was Roethlisberger and the Steelers who got the best of McNabb and the Eagles. At Heinz Field four years ago, the Steelers rolled 27-3. McNabb was sacked four times, threw an interception and had a lowly 55.7 passer rating.
For the Steelers to improve to 3-0, harassing and stopping McNabb again is their No. 1 priority. But based on now McNabb has played so far, it figures to be a challenge, especially with the game being played in Philly.
The Eagles (1-1) may have lost to the Dallas Cowboys last week, 41-37, at Texas Stadium. But after two weeks, the Eagles rank third in the NFL in total offense, first in passing yards and second in scoring at 37.5 points per game.
Like Roethlisberger, McNabb has had a hot hand so far. He’s thrown four TD passes and no interceptions, and ranks sixth in the league with a 114.1 rating.
“McNabb’s playing unbelievable football right now,” Steelers free safety Ryan Clark said.
“Donovan’s a great guy. He’s a friend,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s an elite quarterback in this league.”
Today’s game features two elite quarterbacks. The one who plays best will probably be the winner.
Mike Bires can be reached online at [email="email@example.com"]firstname.lastname@example.org[/email]