Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan have proven that two different paths can lead to the same destination.
This particular destination is a place among the all-time leading passers in completion percentage.
In the midst of his eighth season, Ryan, the Falcons' Pro Bowl quarterback, is tied with Matt Schaub for ninth all time in career completion percentage. He has completed 63.9 percent of his career pass attempts, while having completed 65.5 percent of his passes through 13 games this season. In 2012, Ryan paced the NFL by completing 68.6 percent of throws while leading the Falcons to the brink of the Super Bowl, losing the NFC Championship game to the 49ers.
Right behind Ryan on the list of career passing percentage leaders is Big Ben, who has completed 63.6 percent of his passes since breaking into the NFL in 2004. Roethlisberger, who has completed 66.5 percent of his passes thus far in 2014, is one spot ahead of Tom Brady (63.5 percent) and two spots in front of four-time Super Bowl winner Joe Montana (63.2 percent) on the list. Big Ben's finest passing season in terms of highest completion percentage occurred in 2009, as he completed 66.6 percent of his throws for the defending Super Bowl champions.
Five active NFL quarterbacks are ahead of Ryan and Roethlisberger on the list. Drew Brees (66.2 percent) is No.1 all time in career completion percentage, while Aaron Rodgers (65.9 percent) and Peyton Manning (65.5 percent) are third and fourth on the list, respectively. Tony Romo (65 percent) and Phillip Rivers (64.8 percent) sit at sixth and seventh respectively on the list. Chad Pennington (second with a 66-percent completion percentage), Kurt Warner (tied in fourth place with Manning) and Steve Young (eighth place at 64.3 percent) are the only retired players in the top-10 in career completion percentage.
I find it fitting that Ryan and Roethlisberger are shadowing each other on this list. You'd never compare their games to each other, yet both have enjoyed very similar success in regard to offensive production. Ryan was tabbed early on in his career as a Troy Aikman prototype, a classic pocket passer who thrives on precision passing. Roethlisberger was labeled as a game-manager early in his career and, as his career has progressed, people are now seeing that Big Ben's game consists of much more. His style is unorthodox and there honestly has never been a quarterback blessed with Roethlisberger's complement of size, mobility, and accuracy. But based on his individual success, and that of his team over the years, Roethlisberger has been just as effective as any other successful quarterback in the league.
The main stat to focus on between these two is 2-0. That's Roethlisberger's Super Bowl win total compared to Ryan. While it's unfair to compare quarterbacks solely on Super Bowl victories, Roethlisberger has proven that he can lead a team to the promised land, while Ryan is still out to prove that he is capable. And if the Steelers can win in Atlanta for the first time since 1996 on Sunday, Big Ben's chance to prove it again will still be intact, while Ryan would have to wait another year to try to prove it for the first time.