An argument can be made that Ben Roethlisberger should have been the Steelers’ Most Valuable Player in 2007. But there’s no debate this year. “Big Ben” is the man.
On Thursday, Roethlisberger was named MVP by a vote of his teammates.
“To me, of all of the awards I have ever won, being a team MVP voted on by your teammates and a team captain are probably two of the most special awards that I could ever win,” Roethlisberger said. “This means more to me than any other award. It tops them all. It was touching. I had to hold back some emotions when Coach (Mike Tomlin) said it.”
Two years ago, Roethlisberger had an MVP-type season when he re-wrote the team records book by throwing 32 touchdown passes and compiling a 104.1 pass rating.
But instead of Roethlisberger, the Steelers chose outside linebacker James Harrison, who had an outstanding season that included 8.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles. Still, there were several Steelers who believe Roethlisbrger was snubbed by his own teammates.
But that wasn’t the case this year.
“Statistically, I think so,” Roethlisberger said when asked if this was his best season.
This year, Roethlisberger became the first Steelers’ quarterback to ever throw for 4,000 yards in a season. He’s also set team records for most completions in a season (319), most passing yards in a game (503) and most 300-yard passing games in a season (five).
“It’s an honor when you can do things like that, especially with the rich, storied tradition here that’s been here in Pittsburgh and with the Steelers,” said Roethlisberger, who’s thrown for 4,108 yards and 23 TDs with a 98.9 passer rating going into Sunday’s regular-season finale in Miami.
Roethlisberger is the first quarterback to win the MVP honors since Kordell Stewart in 2001. The only other QBs to win the award are Neil O’Donnell in 1995 and Terry Bradshaw in 1977 and ’78.
“I never missed a practice (this year), the first time in six years I never missed a practice,” Roethlisberger said. “I think that has translated on to the football field and my play has been better, whether it’s the no-huddle or understanding offenses better, I think you could say it has been one of my better years.”
Roethlisberger is also proud of the fact that this is the first time in Steelers’ history that a quarterback has thrown for 4,000 yards, two wide receivers (Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes) have racked up over 1,000 receiving yards and a running back (Rashard Mendenhall) has surpassed 1,000 rushing yards.
“I always want to help those guys any way I can get those yards,” said Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ first-round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. “I think I was stat-watching more than those guys were for them. Hines has had 1,000 yard seasons before, Santonio never has. For him to get that meant a lot for me. Knowing you are their quarterback and helped them get all of those yards means a lot. Those things mean more to me than my individual records.”
Of course, Roethlisberger takes more pride in team success than any individual awards.
He has a 59-26 record as a starter in regular-season games. He’s 8-2 in playoff games he’s started. And he’s won two Super Bowls.
“To me, it’s always about winning and championships,” Roethlisberger said. “Hopefully, we’ll get into the playoffs (this year) and see what we can do.”