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AFTER HIS FIRST two seasons one thing could be said about Ben Roethlisberger: He was never the reason the Steelers lost. That changed in 2006, after a summer motorcycle accident led to a skid out of a season: 23 interceptions (compared with 20 total in his first two years) and 18 touchdowns. Fans in Pittsburgh wondered if Roethlisberger and his keen decision-making would ever be the same.
This year he hasn't been the same; he's been better. But like the other players on this page, Roethlisberger has had his career year overshadowed—in his case, by Tom Brady's season for all time. In morphing from a game-management QB to a gunslinger, below-the-radar Ben is second in the AFC with 22 touchdown passes ( Peyton Manning has 16), and perhaps more impressive, he has only seven interceptions. Against the Browns on Sunday he directed a fourth-quarter comeback with a 30-yard touchdown run and a TD pass. When will everyone notice? How about Week 14, when the Steelers play the Patriots?
CHAD JOHNSON gets the TV spots and does the big celebrations, but teammate T.J. has gotten the TDs this year—10 already.
IN A DISAPPOINTING Eagles season he has turned bailout passes into highlight-reel material. He has been the most well-rounded back in the league, including LT.