Philip Rivers and Ben Roethsliberger were both drafted in 2004 and both have gone on to Hall of Fame-worthy careers. But they’re a combined 2-14 against Tom Brady in their respected careers. With the Chargers surging and the Steelers atop the AFC it looks like Brady is on a collision course with one or maybe both of these veteran quarterbacks.
Whether or not Rivers or Roethelisberger can finally knock off Brady should be the defining story of the AFC playoffs. And it might be now or never for both.
Let’s take a closer look at how these two great quarterbacks have fared against the Patriots, and, perhaps more importantly, how Tom Brady has fared against their teams.
Of course Roethlisberger and Rivers both got wins over the Patriots in 2008, the Matt Cassel year. The Chargers finally got a convincing win over the Pats after losing to them two-straight playoffs, while the Steelers were on their way to another Super Bowl that season, and broke a halftime 10-point game in Foxboro to get a 33-10 win.
Otherwise, against Tom Brady things are pretty bleak. The only two times either of them beat the Pats was Big Ben breaking the Patriots record-setting win streak in October of 2004, and 2011’s not-as-close-as- the-scoreboard Steeler beatdown 25-17.
Neither of the Brady-Ben playoff games were close, with Pats winning by a combined 33 points. Rivers had a bad day in 2006 then played through a torn ACL in 2007. Still both Charger playoff games were closer than the Steeler ones.
Let’s check out their stats against the Patriots.
Here are Rivers’ numbers.
Head to head, Rivers and Roethlisberger are 2-2 in the regular season. Big Ben got the one playoff win in 2008.
Roethlisberger has definitely had the better numbers against the Patriots overall. Rivers has never thrown more touchdowns than interceptions and has yet throw a touchdown in the post season.
This year, both teams have strong, balanced offensive attacks, while defensively the Chargers have the more impressive array of pass rushers necessary. But if Pittsburgh is playing at home against the Patriots, it could be just enough of an edge for their defense to play well. We’ll get a preview of that potential matchup next week.
What really matters is Tom Brady. He hasn’t throw a pick to the Steeler defense since the season opener…of 2005. In the last five games he has 15 touchdowns. In his last five against the Chargers, Brady has 10 TDs and two interceptions. Unless Pittsburgh or LA get Brady off his game it will be lights out no matter now their own quarterbacks play.
For one of these other two great quarterbacks who have been in Brady’s shadow their entire careers, the script would have to flip dramatically. Both have the talent and the teams around them and 2017 might be one of their last times to finally do it.