Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Watch out for Big Ben
By John Clayton
ESPN.com

Could Ben Roethlisberger end up being the most dangerous quarterback down the stretch, playing for what could end up being one of the most dangerous teams in the final weeks?

Count on it.

Roethlisberger's 503-yard performance against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday was a warning shot to the NFL that the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't among the playoff dead yet. Even if they lose to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at Heinz Field and are knocked out of the playoffs, Roethlisberger and the Steelers plan to do collateral damage to those going against them.

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An embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 14 appeared to put the Steelers out of the playoff race. They were 6-7, the offense appeared to have lost direction and the pass defense had fallen off dramatically. But Roethlisberger put the team on his shoulders against the Packers and carried it to victory.

That's what elite quarterbacks do in what is turning into a golden age of quarterbacks. Several readers of the mailbag still aren't buying into my elite quarterback theories. I had several questioning me having Joe Flacco of the Ravens as an elite quarterback even though his numbers match up with the good ones and he won two playoff games last year.

No one questions Roethlisberger's ability. He'll go over 4,000 yards passing Sunday with one game left and he's one of the game's most dangerous quarterbacks in the final four minutes. And there is still a chance the Steelers could outmaneuver the Broncos and make the playoffs.

For that to happen, the Steelers and the Ravens have to get to 9-7 and match up against the Broncos, who lost to the Steelers and Ravens. The rest of the 7-7 teams would have to finish 8-8 or be behind the Ravens and Steelers in 9-7 tiebreakers.

It could happen, and if it does, watch out. Getting Roethlisberger back into the playoff mix would give the NFL 12 playoff teams with 12 elite quarterbacks. You'll have elite going against elite. Anything can happen.
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/column...ohn&id=4767784