Ben Roethlisberger wins games, not popularity contests. Still, he was doing neither at the start of the 2013 season, a year seemingly destined for disaster after an 0-4 start and a general lack of continuity across both side of the ball.
If anything, Roethlisberger showed his best in the process of leading the team out its funk. Even he admitted, "we're pretty much the worst team in football" after losing its fourth straight game, a Week 4 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
A resilient group bounced back to go 8-4 over its final 12 games, partially due to Roethlisberger's reduction in turnovers and increase in shorter passing coming out of the team's no huddle offense.
For these things and more, ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski rated Roethlisberger the sixth-best quarterback in the NFL, trailing Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck.
The issue with fans will no doubt center around the fact Luck - a two-year veteran without even one season in comparison to Roethlisberger at his best - made this list, but someone among that group has to be fifth and sixth. It's an extremely impressive group. Luck and Seattle's Russell Wilson seem poised to battle for the top spot in the coming years, but they'll have to get past Rodgers - he missed a large chunk of 2013 with injury, but the former league MVP is on pace to top many passing records before he retires (he turned 30 in December).
San Diego's Phillip Rivers, Atlanta's Matt Ryan, Wilson and Baltimore's Joe Flacco finished 7-10 on his list.