Rings Are Thing For Roethlisberger

Even Charles Woodson can't explain how Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has slid under the radar. Nonetheless, while Aaron Rodgers seeks his first Super Bowl ring on Sunday, Big Ben is going for a third that would put him in elite company.

DALLAS -- To be considered truly great, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers needs to win a Super Bowl ring. He'll get his shot on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

His counterpart in that game, Ben Roethlisberger, has won two Super Bowl rings. With a third, he'll join Troy Aikman and Tom Brady as three-time champions and trail only fellow Pittsburgh legend Terry Bradshaw and Rodgers' childhood idol, Joe Montana, both of whom are four-time champions.

Nonetheless, on the pantheon of great quarterbacks in the NFL, Big Ben's name almost never is mentioned, even though his 8-2 career postseason record trails only Bart Starr's 9-1 in terms of winning percentage in NFL playoff history. There's plenty of talk about Brady and Peyton Manning and Rodgers, too. Somehow, Roethlisberger is underrated at a position in which winning isn't everything – it's the only thing.

"You always hear that you are judged by the rings that you have and here is a guy with two rings," Packers cornerback Charles Woodson said. "For him not to get the respect of other quarterbacks who have won multiple rings, I am not sure why that is. This is a guy who is just as tough as they come. A guy who makes plays at any moment in the game, always keeps his team in the game and always keeps plays alive. Why he's not considered one of the best – I'm not sure, but he is definitely is in our book."

Part of it's because of the off-the-field problems that swirled around Roethlisberger and led to a season-opening, four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. Roethlisberger was in no mood to reflect on what it means personally to get back to this stage. That'll have to wait for another week. While the accusations have sullied his reputation – he never was charged with a crime for whatever happened with a 20-year-old girl at a Georgia nightclub in March – they didn't ruin the Steelers' season.

Left with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch to keep the season from falling apart, Pittsburgh shockingly won its first three games. With Roethlisberger back under center, the Steelers went 9-3 to finish the regular season at 12-4. In the playoffs, Roethlisberger and Co. avenged two of their regular-season losses. After Roethlisberger rallied the Steelers out of a deep hole against Baltimore, they bolted to a 24-0 lead against the Jets before hanging on to win the AFC championship.

"That's what has made this year and this whole team so special," receiver Hines Ward said. "By not having Ben, a lot of people wrote us off and really didn't give us credit. Dennis Dixon came in and did a phenomenal job. Charlie Batch came in and did a phenomenal job. We found a way to be 3-1. We were maybe a minute and 10 seconds away from starting out 4-0. Now you have Ben coming back and he had to prove everybody wrong, that he's a changed man. To have that hunger and desire and determination that he wants to go out and he wants to lead this team and have another great year, he's done that. I think by going through that it made us a closer team, because we had different guys stepping up. That's the reason that we're here."

Roethlisberger barely missed a beat upon returning to the lineup, finishing with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. Roethlisberger, however, never has been about the numbers. He's topped 4,000 passing yards just once – last year, when they missed the playoffs. And in his seven years as a starter, he's finished in the teens in touchdown passes five times.

Still, all Roethlisberger has done is win. And with one more win on Sunday, he'll be one of just five quarterbacks with three Super Bowl rings.

"Since I've been a little kid, I've wanted to win the Super Bowl, so I've always wanted to win," he said. "If you need extra motivation to win a Super Bowl, there's probably something wrong with you."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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