August 9, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Steve McLendon (90). Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

Pittsburgh Steelers Versus Philadelphia Eagles: The Battle of the #7’s

August 9, 2012; Philadelphia, PA USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a pass under pressure by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham (54) Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE


As I look forward to the weekend game and the cross-state rivalry, I wondered if this match up could come down to how well each quarterback does. As a loyal Steelers’ fan, I’ll pick Roethlisberger any day, but I wonder how these two match up. If this is a quarterback-driven league as many analysts claim, then the quarterback comparison must stand for something. Obviously people can twist statistics to say anything they want, but I think a comparison will show these two quarterbacks have very different instincts.

If you compare, height, weight, and age – Roethlisberger has a type of advantage and Vick has another:

Roethlisberger Vick
Height 6’ 5” 6’ 0”
Weight 241 lbs 215 lbs
Age 30 32

Both quarterbacks like to extend plays, but Roethlisberger’s size helps him withstand the defensive hits better than Vick. Yet, if you need a quarterback to tuck the ball in and run, Vick’s ability to scramble out of a collapsing pocket and run for yards is better than Roethlisberger’s.

Now look at their career statistics. They both have played a similar number of games. Ben’s quarterback rating is higher. Vick’s rating probably took a hit this year with his large number of interceptions. The other numbers I chose to focus on paint a picture that probably wouldn’t surprise anyone. Ben likes to throw the ball and Vick’s rushing numbers are pretty high.

Roethlisberger Vick
QB RTG 92.7 80.5
Games played 117 115
Passing Attempts 3,433 2,693
Passing completion % 63.3 56.1
Passing TDs 173 115
INTs 101 78
Rushing Attempts 296 756
Rushing TDs 14 34
Sacks 323 255
Fumbles 55 (26 lost) 81 (37 lost)

However, within the obvious passing versus rushing dominance in the numbers, I see two quarterbacks with different instincts and I think it makes a difference in this league. It seems a bit significant that Vick is criticized for not staying in the pocket and figuring out how to get the ball to his receivers while Roethlisberger is criticized for staying in the pocket too long and taking too many hits. The critics put them on opposite ends of the spectrum, but if you bring both of them back to the center, at what point do they lose what makes them unique and qualified to be an NFL quarterback? I think this is a little bit of that going on with both teams in response to the criticisms. Both teams are worried about the long-term durability of their highly-paid quarterbacks and that’s legitimate. However, if you push them away from their instincts too much, the quarterback could become ineffective.

We scrutinize the quarterback, but he isn’t the only player on the field. These numbers don’t tell the whole story. None do. Aristotle said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” We might see dueling #7’s during Sunday’s game, but it is really about the teams. Hopefully, the bye week benefited the Steelers and they can move on from a lackluster start to the season. We all can find flaws on both sides of the ball, but when the parts come together, they need to be able to make up for problems on either side. I hope to see a game where the instincts of the quarterback don’t make or break the game.

All statistics courtesy of

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