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.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Disqussant

    Quite extraordinary: “they are virtually the only constant in the past 13 years.”

  • Big White

    Besides the draft class, I don’t consider Eli a peer to Ben in terms of great quarterbacks. Yes, he’s good obviously but Phillip Rivers and Ben are in an elite class.

  • Matt

    He’s not that far behind Ben. Both guys play hot and cold. Eli more so. No doubt Ben is the better overall QB, but the gap between them isn’t that big.

  • PaeperCup

    We always try to discredit Eli, but he’s a franchise QB that has taken his team to two superbowls. He’s had some ups, some downs, but he’s a leader of a team that always seems to be somewhat in the mix since he arrived. We long said that that’s all it took to make Ben an Elite QB prior to him really opening up his game. One thing he has over Ben, Eli hasn’t missed a game since his rookie year. Actually quite amazing.

  • Bill

    Eli and Ben are similar in results. Eli has slightly more yards and TDs but also has more pics; Ben’s avg./play is 11% better. Both have played behind some atrocious offensive lines; both have lacked receivers at times. We all say Ben is really tough and he is, but Eli’s been pounded at times and has missed a lot less games due to injury so he is also though. They say: “You are what your record says you are” and the record of these two says they’re equal!

  • Bradys_Dad

    Of the Ben, Eli and Phillip lottery, IMO the Steelers were the winners. Their individual style of play seems to suit their teams or is it the other way around? This is one of those times when you have to give kudos to the FO. They did their due diligence on Big Ben. The bigger question, for each of these teams is, who’s the next man up to take over for the next 10 years?

  • Rocksolid20

    wouldn’t trade Ben for either !

  • Hypo Cycloid

    The record says Ben is a LOT better. Ben has started 179 games while Eli has started 194 games. So Eli essentially has an entire season on Ben to pad stats, yet Ben has 119 wins and Eli 105 wins. Ben has started 15 less games, but has 14 more wins. That is impressive. Ben also has a better TD %, Int %, and nearly a 10 point lead in quarterback rating. Ben has 37 game winning drives while Eli has 33. All in less games. Ben is tough, yet the one thing I agree you have to give credit to is Eli’s ability to stay healthy. Ben is clearly the better quarterback in every way except for injuries. Nearly every statistic you look at, Ben beats Eli, and in most he beats him badly. And Ben averages missing just over a game per year, so it isn’t like he is unreliable.

  • Bill

    I guess you spent a lot of time looking all this up but what you probably don’t do is spend a lot of time looking at the giants as I have done living in NJ. Football is a team sport & during the two seasons the Steelers won the Super Bowl, they had a top 5 defense and they had that up until about five years ago. The Giants fielded some awful teams at times over the years that Manning has been there. In general, the Steelers were a better all around team. But since you love stats so much feast on these Super Bowl stats: Manning two Super Bowls: Avg. YPG- 275; Ratings- 87.3 & 103.7; 3-TDs & 1 pic. Big Ben three Super Bowls Avg YPG -214, Ratings- 22.6, 93.2, 77.4; 3 TDs & 5 pics. You can prove anything with selective stats. I’ve watched both teams play and I think Big has played on many more good all around teams than Manning. As quarterbacks, they’re different but about equal all things considered. And should you think otherwise I am a Steeler fan of many years. And by the way, missing an average of 1 game a years is not the same as missing 4 in a season. As far as winning drives, Ben was able to do that when the defense kept the games close; lately that hasn’t been the case and he isn’t generating many of those late drives. In addition he had to deliver last minute drives because he often does nothing in the middle of games. Ben and Manning both have faults but they deliver similar results when the quality of their respective teams is about equal.

  • Hypo Cycloid

    I knew you were a Steeler fan! And it took me about 2 minutes to look at the stats! But here is what we disagree on. I didn’t do selective stats. Every significant passing stat Ben is superior over their careers. TD’s, int’s, ypa, ypg, qbr, etc. You picked 3 singular games. Remember too, Ben had a bad line for years with arguably less talent on offense than the giants. Yes, Ben’s defense was much better and made for a better team, but they play on offense. The only edge Eli has on Ben is a couple career overall stats like yardage, but with essentially an entire seasons worth of piling on.