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A win over the Bengals would make Ben Roethlisberger an easy choice for NFL MVP

Playing the best football of his life, Ben Roethlisberger has been Pittsburgh's steady hand during their push to the playoffs, making his case for league MVP.

Terry Bradshaw is the only Steelers player to be named MVP of the NFL.

Ben Roethlisberger should join him on that list.

Bradshaw won the award in 1978 following his finest year and maybe the best passing season for a professional quarterback in franchise history. With Pittsburgh transitioning from a power-running team to a passing offense due to new league rules and Bradshaw's emergence, along with receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, No. 12 threw a league-best 28 touchdown passes en route to a 14-2 regular season record and the AFC Central divisional title.

Bradshaw continued his masterful season through two playoff victories and in Super Bowl XIII, where he threw for over 300 yards for the first time as a professional, while tossing a then-record four touchdown passes in the Steelers' 35-31 victory over Dallas, as Pittsburgh cemented its case as the team of the decade.

The Steelers don't win that third Super Bowl without Bradshaw, just as the current Steelers wouldn't have won 10 games this season without Big Ben. While he has struggled at times (e.g. Jets and Saints games), Roethlisberger has, more often than not, been the consistent heartbeat of the Steelers this year. While his consecutive six-touchdown games will stand as his most impressive statistical achievement this season, I'll point to Ben's last three games as his most impressive performances of 2014.

Since that disappointing loss to the Saints, the Steelers are 3-0, with Big Ben completing 69 percent of his passes for an average of 310 yards passing per game during that span. He's thrown four touchdowns against zero interceptions with a passer rating of 113.3. Over the past two games, Roethlisberger has completed 75 percent of his passes while leading a balanced, efficient offensive attack.

We've seen many variations of Big Ben during his 11 seasons in Pittsburgh. We saw him in a game-manager role (unless the game called upon him to be heroic) during his first two seasons at a time when the Steelers were armored with great defenses and rushing attacks. Then he spent a few seasons in gunslinger mode after the offense had transformed into more of a passing attack, often leading to mixed results. The last three weeks has proven that Big Ben has transformed himself into another variation of himself, this time as a polished, seasoned field general. This one has been my favorite version of Roethlisberger and, if you look closely, you can see many similarities between Big Ben and Dan Marino. Both are big, strong-armed passers with the confidence, ability and commanding leadership needed to run a successful offense.

Roethlisberger has also been armed with his best offensive line in years, while also having All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell and All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown. He continues to have the always-reliable Heath Miller at tight end. Just as Bradshaw did 35 years earlier, Big Ben is perfectly utilizing all of his talents and is creating offensive masterpieces nearly every week.

If you've read my stories before, you know I'm a big fan of John Facenda's quote: "Great teams aren't always great. They're just great when they have to be." This quote certainly applies to Big Ben, who has been nothing short of great when the Steelers have needed him most. To me, the definition of an MVP is a player that elevates himself and his team to play at their optimum level which results in both individual and team success. Big Ben has done all that and more this season, and if the Steelers finish the job against Cincinnati this Sunday, a league-MVP trophy would be an appropriate honor for a player that has been the very definition of a most-valuable player.

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