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Quadrennial Meetings Between Big Ben And Eli A Benchmark For ’04 Draft Rivals

The first time that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning faced each other as professional athletes, it was in 2004, during their rookie season. Manning was the top pick of the draft. Roethlisberger slid outside the top 10 picks to land with Pittsburgh at 11.

Neither player had built up much of a resume by that point. Neither had started the season opener. Roethlisberger entered the starting lineup a couple games into his rookie season due to injury, while Manning went back and forth with Kurt Warner.

The Steelers won that matchup, with Roethlisberger throwing for over 300 yards and a touchdown, though with two interceptions. Manning threw for under 200 yards, but threw for two touchdowns and one interception.

They would not face off again until 2008. By then, both young quarterbacks had started and won a Super Bowl. Roethlisberger did it in his second season, while Manning did so in his fourth season. The Steelers lost that second game, in large part due to an injury to their long snapper, but they would go on to win the Super Bowl that year.

In the intervening years, Manning and the Giants would win another Super Bowl, in 2011, the year before the two would face again. In 2012, they became just the second pair of draft classmates at the quarterback position to face each other after having started multiple Super Bowls.

The first pair to do so was Jim Kelly and John Elway, who met a couple of times following the Bills’ second Super Bowl appearance in 1992. Elway had been in three Super Bowls by then, before winning two at the end of his career, by which point Kelly, who went to four consecutive Super Bowls but never won, was already retired.

The only other pair of draft classmates from the quarterback position to start multiple Super Bowls was Jim Plunkett and Joe Theisman, but they never faced each other after having done so. That means that Manning and Roethlisberger are the only such players to face each other after having started multiple Super Bowls and won at least one.

Unfortunately, neither quarterback has brought his team to the Super Bowl since their last meeting. The Giants, in fact, have missed the playoffs for the past four seasons. The Steelers missed the playoffs in 2012 and 2013, but have made it in each of the past two seasons, and one a playoff game last year.

In that last meeting in 2012, neither quarterback played particularly extraordinarily, with Isaac Redman the headliner. He rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown, with Roethlisberger threw for 216 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Manning threw for under 200 yards with one interception.

What will this round look like? Both teams are dramatically different since then. Only one defender who recorded a stat in that game for the Giants is still with them, while the Steelers have two. Only two offensive players recording a stat remain for Pittsburgh, including Roethlisberger, and the same is true for the Giants and Manning. They are virtually the only constant through the past 13 years.

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