Cold Hard Football Facts: Big Ben, statistically, among the best ever
Big Ben is one of the all-time leaders in two of the most important stats in football.
And now it's official.
The NFL requires that quarterbacks attempt a minimum 1,500 passes to qualify for official league records. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger entered Monday night's 23-20 overtime victory against Baltimore with 1,495 attempts.
He tossed 24 passes against the Ravens, along the way topping the 1,500-attempt-mark needed to receive the pigskin-keeping seal of approval. His career stat line now looks like this:
961 of 1,519 (63.3 percent), 12,311 yards, 8.10 YPA, 88 TDs, 56 INTs, and a 92.52 passer rating
Roethlisberger has been a Cold, Hard Football Facts favorite since he exploded onto the scene as a rookie in 2004, leading Pittsburgh to a 15-1 record and a spot in the AFC title game, and then winning a Super Bowl with the Steelers in his sophomore season.
After all, you don't win consistently in the NFL without strong play at quarterback. So when the Steelers were suddenly winning in historic fashion (the 2004 Steelers are one of the few teams in history to win 15 games), the natural place to turn for answers was the passing game.
And it turned out that Roethlisberger's historic string of victories in his first two years was accompanied by historic passing efficiency numbers -- especially for such a young player.
Now in his fifth year, Roethlisberger officially enters the record books and finds himself among some of the very best passers in the history of the game. If he can repeat his first four-plus years in the league over the next four-plus seasons, he's a bona fide first ballot Hall of Famer.
Big Ben No. 5 all-time in passer rating
As of today, Roethlisberger boasts a career passer rating of 92.52.
It's a number that puts him -- officially -- at No. 5 on the list, one spot behind No. 4 Tom Brady (92.91) and one spot ahead of No. 6 Joe Montana (92.26). In our book (yes, our book has lots of pretty pictures) that's damn good company.
Here is the top of the all-time leaderboard in career passer rating:
It's no coincidence, by the way, that every player in the Top 5 has won at least one Super Bowl. Passer rating has a lot of critics, because it's so unwieldy. But it's also a pretty good measure of success and typically has a high correlation to winning football games.
It's no coincidence, for example, that the Steelers had gone a quarter-century without a Super Bowl victory before Big Ben arrived on the scene. Efficient passers win football games.
Big Ben No. 5 all-time in passing yards per attempt
Roethlisberger's top-five spot in YPA is probably more impressive than his top-five spot on the all-time passer rating list.
After all, YPA seems to have a higher correlation to winning than does the more complex passer rating formula. The difference is not too great. In fact, the two often move in lock-step (just look at the example of Big Ben, No. 5 all-time in both categories). But YPA often seems to be a more telling stat and it tends to cut across different eras more often than passer rating (which clearly favors contemporary passers).
Yards per attempt is also an attractive indicator because it's so cut and dry that even the casual fan can comprehend what it means. Plus, there is probably no individual stat in all of sports with such a high correlation to winning (if you know of one, please share it with us).
Here is the top of the all-time leaderboard in yards per attempt:
1. Otto Graham -- 8.63 YPA
All were champions. In fact, the top three were multiple champions, and No. 1 on the list is the greatest champion.
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