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Mosca
10-01-2008, 01:14 PM
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/football/nfl/10/01/chff/1.html

By Kerry J. Byrne, Special to SI.com, ColdHardFootballFacts.com


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:

1. Steve Young -- 96.81
2. Peyton Manning -- 94.25
3. Kurt Warner -- 93.52
4. Brady -- 92.91
5. Roethlisberger -- 92.52

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
2. Sid Luckman -- 8.42
3. Norm Van Brocklin -- 8.16
4. Warner -- 8.14
5. Roethlisberger -- 8.10

All were champions. In fact, the top three were multiple champions, and No. 1 on the list is the greatest champion.

(part 2 to follow)

Mosca
10-01-2008, 01:15 PM
The Old School factor

There's another reason Big Ben stands out in the eyes of the Cold, Hard Football Facts.

At the risk of tossing out a cliché (one we'll quickly polish into a shiny Cold, Hard Football Fact with supporting data), Roethlisberger is an Old School quarterback -- a rare modern manifestation of the type of passer you might have seen in an earlier, mud-and-spittle era of pro football.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, quarterbacks generally handed the ball off more often than they passed it -- just like Big Ben does today. But when they did pass, it was typically a high-risk, high-reward downfield throw -- much like those passes Big Ben throws today.

(Of course, the true romantic might envision Big Ben back in the 1940s, slinging the ball down field on offense and then muscling up on defense a la Sammy Baugh. Big Ben certainly seems built like a linebacker, while Baugh, one of the best passers in history, was also a great defensive back.)

To put Big Ben in our comfort zone -- that is, to discuss him through the pigskin prism of raw data -- Roethlisberger is a throwback performer statistically.

In recent years, offenses have focused on short, high-percentage, low-risk passes more than they did in the past. Think the Montana-Brady school of passing theory, which was made possible by the rule changes of 1978 that spawned the Live Ball Era. (Brady and Montana might be as close statistically as any two passers in history.)

Montana entered the NFL in 1979, just in time to take advantage of the new rules, and under the right coach to take take advantage of the new rules, Paul Brown disciple Bill Walsh.

Before Montana, teams tended to throw down the field more aggressively. Montana parlayed new-school offense into four Super Bowl victories and a reputation as the best ever at his position. Brady, before his injury this year, had taken the conservative strategy even further, turning a low YPA average (especially before 2007) and an extraordinarily low INT rate into an historically high passer rating and three Super Bowl victories.

So in recent years, per-attempt averages have generally declined in the NFL, while passer ratings (which reward high completion percentages and low INT rates) have skyrocketed.

Just three active players, for example, are in the top 15 all time in YPA (Warner, Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning). But every player in the Top 20 all time in passer rating began their careers in the Live Ball Era (1978-present). Fifteen of those in the Top 20 are still active.

Roethlisberger is the rare player high on both lists. The old-school style of the Pittsburgh offense has helped him put up a YPA average similar to those seen in the 1950s. But the fact that defenders can no longer prison-shank receivers, offensive linemen and even quarterbacks, has allowed Roethlisberger to translate that high YPA into the high passer rating more typical of contemporary football, too.

The risk of being Ben

Roethlisberger is not a perfect quarterback. Of course, nobody is.

In Big Ben's case, he takes too many sacks and throws an inordinate number of picks relative to the number of times he drops back to pass.

Roethlisberger has attempted 1,519 passes in his career. But he's actually dropped back to pass 1,680 times -- if you include the 161 sacks he's suffered (an average of about 40 per year and nearly three per game). He's also thrown 55 INTs.

So that's a total of 216 negative pass plays (sacks + INTs) in just 1,680 dropbacks -- or a negative pass play on 12.86 percent of every drop back. That's a high number of negative pass plays by modern standards. To put it into perspective, compare Roethlisberger to the two players widely regarded as the best contemporary quarterbacks:

• Big Ben suffers a negative pass play on 12.86 percent of dropbacks (216 in 1,680 dropbacks)

• Brady suffers a negative pass play on 7.49 percent of dropbacks (289 in 3,856 dropbacks)

• Manning suffers a negative pass play on 6.39 percent of dropbacks (353 in 5,721 dropbacks)

The high number of negative pass plays certainly reinforces Roethlisberger's Old School cred. After all, negative pass plays were far more common before the Live Ball Era, when defenses were given greater leeway to play aggressively. Old School-cred or not, they're called negative pass plays for a reason: you don't want 'em.

But the greater concern for Steelers fans should be the declining numbers.

Big Ben's average per attempt has consistently declined, from 8.88 in his rookie year of 2004 and 8.89 in his Super Bowl-winning year of 2005, to 7.81 last year and a career low 7.69 so far this year.

He's on pace for just 16 TD passes this year, which would be a career low. And his 93.3 passer rating so far in 2008 would be the lowest except for his 2006 season that was marred by so many on- and off-the-field issues and injuries. Pittsburgh's once-proud offensive line has struggled this year, too: Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times in four games, which puts him on pace to be taken down a career-high 60 times.

They're trends that can be overcome. As Big Ben matures (he's still only 26), maybe he'll learn to become the more conservative, high-percentage, low-risk, quick-release passer that defines the modern game. Maybe the Steelers will find a few more weapons to put around him -- much like the Patriots did in 2007 for Brady, with historic results.

But for now, Steelers fans will have to settle for a quarterback who stands today among the most productive ever.

And that's official.

X-Terminator
10-01-2008, 01:24 PM
Those Cheating Bastard*-loving assclowns can still lick my balls.

fansince'76
10-01-2008, 02:15 PM
Those Cheating Bastard*-loving assclowns can still lick my balls.

What he said. :coffee:

missedgehead
10-01-2008, 02:22 PM
I love Ben. Love him to death, but I don't care what the stats say, as I am not a stats person and I am not a fantasy nerd. I go by what I see on the field, and rings and lots of other things that I think are much more important than stats. IMO, Joe Montana is the measuring stick. Montana is, was, and IMO, always will be the MAN. Period.

stlrtruck
10-01-2008, 02:46 PM
I love Ben. Love him to death, but I don't care what the stats say, as I am not a stats person and I am not a fantasy nerd. I go by what I see on the field, and rings and lots of other things that I think are much more important than stats. IMO, Joe Montana is the measuring stick. Montana is, was, and IMO, always will be the MAN. Period.

Don't forget before there was Montana was this kid with the Louisana Draw - Terry Bradshaw is the LEGEND that created the MAN

missedgehead
10-01-2008, 03:28 PM
Don't forget before there was Montana was this kid with the Louisana Draw - Terry Bradshaw is the LEGEND that created the MAN

Even though Terry is my all time favorite Steeler QB and , sorry, I think Terry will always be the best QB the Steelers will ever have, I just think Joe was a bit better than Terry. I liked his accuracy, intangibles, calmness in the pocket, etc better than Terry. Just a little bit. Not much though.

Blitzburgh_Fever
10-01-2008, 03:47 PM
Those Cheating Bastard*-loving assclowns can still lick my balls.

Haha such a Steelers attitude. It's interesting to see, but CHFF can get off my quarterback. I refuse to let him be this years Brady. I also refuse to let Polamalu be this years Sanders (even though Sanders was last years Polamalu, and Polamalu was the year priors Ed Reed, and Ed Reed was the previous year's Ed Dawkins, et cetera).

These media types can go salivate over some other team, Pittsburgh doesn't give a damn about you (except for Terry and Jerome, :hug:)

SteelersMongol
10-01-2008, 08:41 PM
Those Cheating Bastard*-loving assclowns can still lick my balls.

Yes. Those Cheating Bastard*-loving assclowns can still lick X-Terminator's balls. :chuckle:

SunshineMan21
10-01-2008, 09:28 PM
Don't forget before there was Montana was this kid with the Louisana Draw - Terry Bradshaw is the LEGEND that created the MAN

You know, this might be blasphemy, but Ben is a much, much, much better QB than Bradshaw.

I agree rings are important when you judge QBs, but you also have to look at the team around the player. You don't honestly think Eli Manning was the best quarterback in the league last year, do you?

Guys like Franco Harris and Mean Joe Greene are much more deserving of the title of top Steeler than Bradshaw . . .

Mosca
10-01-2008, 09:42 PM
You know, this might be blasphemy, but Ben is a much, much, much better QB than Bradshaw.

I agree rings are important when you judge QBs, but you also have to look at the team around the player. You don't honestly think Eli Manning was the best quarterback in the league last year, do you?

Guys like Franco Harris and Mean Joe Greene are much more deserving of the title of top Steeler than Bradshaw . . .

Let's put aside the fact that Bradshaw played his first couple years on a team that was pretty sad. And they had different learning curves.

I would say that they are remarkably similar in so many ways. Both scramble, both love to gamble on the long down field plays, both can take the game onto their backs and win it...

Not only is the on field game different, the economics of the game are different, too. No one is going to put together a team like any of those from that era, it isn't economically feasible.

I didn't see anyone saying that Bradshaw was "top Steeler" of that era... but I'll put to you this; he is the only guy from those teams of the '70s who I would say that if you pulled him, we don't win. Take any other one player, and replace him with his backup, and I could see the Steelers still taking the Super Bowl. But not without Bradshaw. And just like Eli Manning, Bradshaw might not have been the best QB of his era, either.

hizmi
10-01-2008, 09:49 PM
That's some excellent analysis that actually coincides pretty well with most subjective views of Ben.

It's interesting to see his high YPA vs. his high negative plays %. Throw in Willie's high yds/carry vs. his low success rate and you can see why our offense can run so hot and cold.

iloveben7
10-01-2008, 10:13 PM
But for now, Steelers fans will have to settle for a quarterback who stands today among the most productive ever.

And that's official.

I'm perfectly alright settling with that because that's pretty impressive. And we didn't need this article to tell us that Ben's one of the best QBs to ever play the game.

lilyoder6
10-01-2008, 10:14 PM
ben sucks.. trade him.. lol

iloveben7
10-01-2008, 10:16 PM
i think we need to stop all the stupid sarcasm too

SunshineMan21
10-01-2008, 10:27 PM
Let's put aside the fact that Bradshaw played his first couple years on a team that was pretty sad. And they had different learning curves.

I would say that they are remarkably similar in so many ways. Both scramble, both love to gamble on the long down field plays, both can take the game onto their backs and win it...

Not only is the on field game different, the economics of the game are different, too. No one is going to put together a team like any of those from that era, it isn't economically feasible.

I didn't see anyone saying that Bradshaw was "top Steeler" of that era... but I'll put to you this; he is the only guy from those teams of the '70s who I would say that if you pulled him, we don't win. Take any other one player, and replace him with his backup, and I could see the Steelers still taking the Super Bowl. But not without Bradshaw. And just like Eli Manning, Bradshaw might not have been the best QB of his era, either.

I think all I need to prove my point is that on his career Bradshaw had around a 51% completion percentage and 212 TDs versus 210 INTS . . . Bradshaw's reputation as a legendary QB is in my opinion less a reflection of his skills and more of a reflection that he was in general a decent QB in the regular season who played very, very well when given a chance to shine in the Superbowl.

In four SB appearances, all of which we won, Bradshaw threw 9 TDs and 4 INTs . . . while Ben didn't play too well in his one Superbowl appearance thus far. So Bradshaw was more "clutch."

I can understand the argument that stats aren't the whole story in football, but Roethlisberger is clearly a better QB.

cubanstogie
10-01-2008, 10:38 PM
I think all I need to prove my point is that on his career Bradshaw had around a 51% completion percentage and 212 TDs versus 210 INTS . . . Bradshaw's reputation as a legendary QB is in my opinion less a reflection of his skills and more of a reflection that he was in general a decent QB in the regular season who played very, very well when given a chance to shine in the Superbowl.

In four SB appearances, all of which we won, Bradshaw threw 9 TDs and 4 INTs . . . while Ben didn't play too well in his one Superbowl appearance thus far. So Bradshaw was more "clutch."

I can understand the argument that stats aren't the whole story in football, but Roethlisberger is clearly a better QB.

Ben is not "clearly better than Bradshaw". Big players win big games. Bradshaw won big games. Ben has the potential to be great. Thats fine if thats your opinion, but it certainly isn't clear. Bradshaw threw the ball downfield more than he dumped it off. He was more like a Favre. You are right stats don't tell the whole story, neither does comparing players in different eras. How big was Ham, Lambert, Cole, compared to the guys now. How many QB's were over 6 ft 4in back then. Now all of them are. Bradshaw was far better than a "decent" qb.

SunshineMan21
10-01-2008, 11:41 PM
If you want to dispute whether the difference is "clear," that's fine--obviously it's a matter of opinion.

However, gunslinger or no the statistical gap between Ben and Bradshaw is huge--I already granted the argument that Bradshaw played very well in clutch games, but I'm not really sure that makes him a better QB than Ben--Ben "won" the clutchest game of his career, and played very, very well in the playoffs leading up to it.

fansince'76
10-01-2008, 11:48 PM
If you want to dispute whether the difference is "clear," that's fine--obviously it's a matter of opinion.

However, gunslinger or no the statistical gap between Ben and Bradshaw is huge--I already granted the argument that Bradshaw played very well in clutch games, but I'm not really sure that makes him a better QB than Ben--Ben "won" the clutchest game of his career, and played very, very well in the playoffs leading up to it.

You ever see Bradshaw play? I did, and I can tell you right now, Ben is not a better QB than he was, at least at this point. Like you said yourself, stats don't tell the whole story. Bradshaw spent a career calling his own plays with a minimum of input from Noll. He was brilliant when it came to calling the right plays at the right time to exploit mismatches which favored the Steelers' offense. Ben might be all over Bradshaw from a paper and stats standpoint, but as far as being a true field general goes, Bradshaw still eats Ben's lunch. Ben is still learning the nuances of the position.

12+88=6
10-02-2008, 01:14 AM
what's ben's lifetime won/loss record? that's what matters the most.

his playoff record is 5-2 right?

The_WARDen
10-02-2008, 07:51 AM
The argument is hard because it is to different eras. Back in the 70's, the dbacks could ride Swann & Stallworth all over the field. So, the stats from that era will be different than todays era.

If Stallworth and Swann could run unmolested like todays' receivers, Bradshaw would have had better stats.

As far as the better QB? I think they are very similar. Both have strong arms and mobility. Bradshaw won bigger games but he also had a team full of hall of famers in a non-FA world. Ben has won some big games also in his young career (the Colts & Bronco wins were awesome).

I have to give the edge to Bradshaw right now because his book is closed while Ben is only on Chapter 5.

stlrtruck
10-02-2008, 08:47 AM
Even though Terry is my all time favorite Steeler QB and , sorry, I think Terry will always be the best QB the Steelers will ever have, I just think Joe was a bit better than Terry. I liked his accuracy, intangibles, calmness in the pocket, etc better than Terry. Just a little bit. Not much though.

Terry Bradshaw, imho, was the best field general ever to play the game. He may not have been as flashy as Montana but when it was necessary he got the guys on the field to do what was necessary to win.

But I do understand your affection towards Montana.

SteelMember
10-02-2008, 08:51 AM
Does this, in any way, elevate his game manager status to "Game Supervisor". :chuckle:

Bradshaw is Still king. Ben is "A New Hope", but needs three more SB's and two SB MVP's to contend with.

Go get 'em Ben.....Release the hounds! :tt03:

steelpride12
10-02-2008, 10:07 AM
Bradshaw will never be forgotten as one of the best in the game to the black and gold and the nation.
Ben is the hope to give us the same success or even more as he already has a superbowl and only missed the playoffs one time.
Ben is our leader and when something goes wrong it is up to him to solve it.
Thank you Ben and keep up the good work!

Mosca
10-02-2008, 11:03 AM
I think all I need to prove my point is that on his career Bradshaw had around a 51% completion percentage and 212 TDs versus 210 INTS . . . Bradshaw's reputation as a legendary QB is in my opinion less a reflection of his skills and more of a reflection that he was in general a decent QB in the regular season who played very, very well when given a chance to shine in the Superbowl.

In four SB appearances, all of which we won, Bradshaw threw 9 TDs and 4 INTs . . . while Ben didn't play too well in his one Superbowl appearance thus far. So Bradshaw was more "clutch."

I can understand the argument that stats aren't the whole story in football, but Roethlisberger is clearly a better QB.


I don't know how old you are; I was there. I was at most of the games from 74 through 82. Brad in the core of his career, 74 through 81, was phenomenal. You can pull out stats, but stats can't measure the way the game was played and the effect that a player had on the game. You could replace any one player from the Super Bowl years; Greene, Harris, even Lambert... and still win the Super Bowl, except for one guy: Bradshaw.

Now, Roethlisberger, IMO, has all the same strengths and tools. IMO he's almost the same guy; I love having him the same way I loved having Brad. But you have to wait for his career to end before you can say. I believe it is probable that BR will end his career as clearly better than even Bradshaw. But he has to actually do it first.

missedgehead
10-02-2008, 02:07 PM
Oh gosh, what an era we live in. We live in an era of "NOW." We have a sports era where a player is crowned "The best" or "Great" and the player is only in the league the sports equivilant of 5 minutes. I don't mean to bring up a player on another team, but remember all the hype over Devin Hester? Yes, he is an awesome return guy, no doubt, but when he was just starting out in the league , some sportscasters were saying he was better than the Kansas (or is it the Kansas City?)Comet, aka Gayle Sayers. GAYLE SAYERS? Are these people idiots? When I heard that, I was like "Wait a minute! Let's not crown this guy yet!" It seems to me that these guys crown these people as "great" or "One of the greatest to play the game." etc, etc, and the guy has only been in the league for 5 years or less than that. No offense, but I think people should wait a little longer than that or until the guy is nearing the end or when their career ENDS to make that determination for themselves whether the guy is great or one of the greatest or greater than someone else.

As for Ben vs Bradshaw.....can Ben be better than Terry? Yes. Does he have the tools? Yes. Will he be? I think that remains to be seen. Got to get 5 rings first, in my book or even 4 to even be in the discussion. However, right now, he sure as hell NOT better than Bradshaw. I am willing to wait to see how his career progresses, but I still think , and maybe I am stuck in the 70's and I am a bit old school, but I still will always like Terry the best.

As far as Ben being one of the best ever, the jury is still out on that also.....I will wait a couple of more seasons to think on that.

The_WARDen
10-02-2008, 02:13 PM
Oh gosh, what an era we live in. We live in an era of "NOW." We have a sports era where a player is crowned "The best" or "Great" and the player is only in the league the sports equivilant of 5 minutes. I don't mean to bring up a player on another team, but remember all the hype over Devin Hester? Yes, he is an awesome return guy, no doubt, but when he was just starting out in the league , some sportscasters were saying he was better than the Kansas (or is it the Kansas City?)Comet, aka Gayle Sayers. GAYLE SAYERS? Are these people idiots? When I heard that, I was like "Wait a minute! Let's not crown this guy yet!" It seems to me that these guys crown these people as "great" or "One of the greatest to play the game." etc, etc, and the guy has only been in the league for 5 years or less than that. No offense, but I think people should wait a little longer than that or until the guy is nearing the end or when their career ENDS to make that determination for themselves whether the guy is great or one of the greatest or greater than someone else.

As for Ben vs Bradshaw.....can Ben be better than Terry? Yes. Does he have the tools? Yes. Will he be? I think that remains to be seen. Got to get 5 rings first, in my book or even 4 to even be in the discussion. However, right now, he sure as hell NOT better than Bradshaw. I am willing to wait to see how his career progresses, but I still think , and maybe I am stuck in the 70's and I am a bit old school, but I still will always like Terry the best.

As far as Ben being one of the best ever, the jury is still out on that also.....I will wait a couple of more seasons to think on that.

I think the 4 ring basis is a little unfair. Ben doesn't have the luxury of having a HOF RB, 2 HOF WRs and the greatest defense to ever step on the field. Bradshaw was very good but he doesn't win 4 Super Bowls without the Steel Curtain and Franco, especially SB IX.

Avoid LLoyd1975
10-02-2008, 02:31 PM
Terry Bradshaw, imho, was the best field general ever to play the game. He may not have been as flashy as Montana but when it was necessary he got the guys on the field to do what was necessary to win.

But I do understand your affection towards Montana.

Personally there is one man I think everybody is forgetting about...Johnny Unitas. IMO, neither Montana or Bradshaw could even hold a candle to Johnny U. His toughness, ability and so often him carrying the entire team on his back time after time makes him the poster boy for field generals. He didn't have the teams that Montana and Bradshaw had either. I too can understand everybody's sentiment towards Bradshaw and Montana.

JOHNNY UNITAS BACK GROUND:

Cut by 1955 Steelers, free agent with 1956 Colts, soon became legendary hero. . .Exceptional field leader, thrived on pressure. . .Led Colts to 1958, 1959 NFL crowns, Super Bowl V victory. . .All-NFL six seasons, Player of Year three times . . .MVP three times in 10 Pro Bowls. . . Completed 2,830 passes for 40,239 yards, 290 TDs. . .Threw at least one TD pass in 47 straight games. . .Had 26 games over 300 yards passing. . .Born May 7, 1933, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. . .Died September 11, 2002, at age of 69.

Few, if any, sports stories are more dramatic or more complete than the story of Johnny Unitas. A ninth-round draft choice of the1955 Pittsburgh Steelers, Unitas was cut before he even threw one pass in a game. Still determined, he played semi-pro football for $6 a game.

After the season, the Baltimore Colts coach Weeb Ewbank learned of the "outstanding prospect" on the Pittsburgh sandlots. Ewbank signed Johnny for $17,000 on a make the team basis. Programmed strictly as a backup, Unitas got his chance in the fourth game when the Colts’ starter was injured.

Unitas’ first pass was intercepted for a touchdown but from that moment on, he never looked back. For the next 18 seasons, "Johnny U'' ran up a ledger of game winning exploits seldom matched in NFL history.

Without a doubt, it was his last-second heroics in the 1958 NFL title game, often called "the greatest game ever played," that turned Unitas into a household name. The New York Giants, with two minutes to play, were leading, 17-14, when the Colts started a last-gasp drive at their own 14. “Mr. Clutch” went coolly to work with seven straight passes that set up a game-tying field goal with seven seconds left. Unitas then engineered a textbook perfect 80-yard march to win the game in overtime. The game, played before a national television audience, gave Unitas his chance to demonstrate all of his marvelous attributes – confidence, courage, leadership, play calling genius, and passing skill.

Unitas’ career statistics include 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns passing. His record of at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games may stand forever. A genuine team player, Unitas was a first- or second-team All-NFL choice eight years, selected NFL Player of the Year three times, and named to10 Pro Bowls.