Dutch asked me to post this...and soooo the fun begins.

Give me Roethlisberger over Peyton Manning
It is undoubtedly a very small group that would take Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to lead their team instead of Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts. But even if you do fall into that select group, there is a good chance that you wonít admit it.

After all, admitting such a thing publicly would only invite ridicule. If you live in southwestern Pennsylvania, as I do, you would be considered a homer to state such an opinion. Your credibility would immediately be attacked. You could be chastised, mocked, publicly humiliated, and perhaps even spat upon for considering such argument.

Yet, through it all, the facts are clearly on your side. The following is a question-and-answer exchange I recently had with a Manning backer on this subject. Enjoy!

Manning Backer: You only want to talk about Ben having more rings up to this point. That doesnít tell the whole story. Ben having more rings has nothing to do with him being better than Manning. Canít you see this?

Dutch Wydo: Roethlisberger has one more Super Bowl victory up to this point because he out-performed Manning at Indianapolis in the 2005 playoffs. Roethlisberger came out throwing and put two early touchdowns on the board and staked his team to what turned out to be an insurmountable 14-point lead. That was the difference in the game and the reason why Ben has one more ring up to this point.

MB: Ok, How many rings do you think Manning would have if he was the quarterback of the Steelers this decade?

DW: Just one. I donít believe he could have won a Super Bowl behind the current offensive line of the Steelers.

MB: Cmon! Donít you see that Ben has been in a better situation in Pittsburgh?

DW: Incorrect. Roethlisberger won a Super Bowl with an undrafted free agent at running back. He was throwing to guys like Cedric Wilson and Antwaan Randle El. He even had a rookie Tight End starting on that Ď05 team. This is hardly Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark.

MB: Iím sorry, but you need to consider everything. Just look at the stats. What do the stats tell you?

DW: Iím sorry, but maybe you have not considered everything. What if Roethlisberger had played his home games in a dome? Ben has played seven indoor games and boasts a passer rating of 113. He has 14 TD passes against only five interceptions. Roethlisberger has completed 68% of his throws indoors at a majestic 9.4 yards per attempt. Unfortunately, he is stuck playing at Heinz Field and has to endure mud, rain, snow, and wind, along with a revolving set of receivers throughout most of his career. Yeah, great situation! Now, let me ask you a question. If you take both quarterbacks and have to choose one to play a road game, which one would you take?

MB: I think the answer is obvious. Iím taking Manning, as he is superior.

DW: Really? What evidence do you have to support that? Roethlisberger has a 91.6 career road passer rating. Manning has a 91.6 career road passer rating. Your perception that Manning is so superior simply does not equal reality, my friend.

MB: You just donít get it do you? Ben has had a great running game in place for most of his career.

DW: Edgerrin James rushed for more than 1,500 yards four times throughout his time with Manning and the Colts. Roethlisberger has never had a 1,500-yard running back.

MB: Defense, Defense, Defense, Dutch. Peyton would have won at least three Super Bowls with that Steeler defense. Címon! Canít you see this?

DW: In eight post season losses, Manningís offense averaged just 13 points per game. As to how many points his offense scored in each loss, here is the list: 16, 17, 0, 14, 3, 18, 24, 17. Now ask yourself a question. Was his defense really the problem? Even in two playoff losses to the Patriots and Jaguars, Roethlisbergerís offense was able to put 29 and 27 points, respectively, on the scoreboard.

MB: So you are trying to say that Ben is the reason they won their playoff games?

DW: Roethlisberger has the highest postseason third-down passer rating of 121.5 last five years. Should I credit Dick LeBeau for that? Besides, before this postseason started, Roethlisberger had a better passer rating, more yards per attempt, and a higher completion percentage in the postseason than Manning. You clearly underrate Roethlisberger.

MB: Are you trying to say the Colts defense has been better than the Steelers defense?

DW: No. But Indianapolisí defense has been the beneficiary of 210 turnovers since 2003. The Steelers defense has collected 190. The Colts are 16-3 over last three seasons when their defense gets two turnovers. The Steelers are 10-4. Getting defensive turnovers can be quite helpful to a quarterback as they will get short fields to work with and convert them into quick scores. This year, the New Orleans Saints averaged 11 points per game off turnovers. The Steelers cornerbacks didnít have an interception until the final week of the regular season. In fact, the Steelers offense this season projected to score 23.8 points per game based on yards and turnover differential. A lack of defensive turnovers and consistently poor special teams held back a Steeler offense averaging 6.2 yards per play more than anything else.

MB: Go ask NFL coaches who they would rather have, Peyton Manning or Ben.

DW: Go ask NFL coaches who they would rather have, Jeff Hartwig or Jeff Saturday?

MB: Dutch, look at how Pierre Garcon has played at Wide Receiver this season for the Colts. Donít you see that is because of Peyton Manning? Peyton Manning makes wide receivers.

DW: Considering the success that Steelers receiver Mike Wallace had this year, the success that Heath Miller had as a rookie, not to mention the performance Santonio Holmes had the last half of 2006. I guess that means Roethlisberger makes wide receivers, too. Also note that Nate Washington averaged 16 yards per reception with Roethlisberger as his quarterback. The averaged fell to twelve per reception this season with the Tennessee Titans. Again, Roethlisberger makes wide receivers.

MB: I think most would agree that Manning is perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time.

DW: To be the best of all time, then you would have to project to be the best in previous generations. Considering that Manningís offense is built around great timing with his receivers, Iím not convinced he would have able to achieve so much success, say, in the 1970s when his receivers would have had their heads taken off and he was forced to scramble around and make plays. That is not his game. In fact, it wasnít until Colts General Manager Bill Polian convinced the NFL in 2004 to strictly enforce the five-yard chuck rule so that his boy could get through the playoffs. Roethlisberger is great right now and would have been great in the 1960s or 1970s.

MB: Look at how Manning attacked the Jets backup cornerback when they lost their starting corner to injury. Manning is a student of the game.

DW: Of course. Manning is the only quarterback in the NFL that has the wisdom to immediately go after a back up corner who just came into the game. Heís a genius.

MB: Who do you like in the Super Bowl?

DW: Colts 38-24. It's all about Manning!