One quarterback is a two-time Super Bowl winner. He played on the NFL's biggest stage and won it all at a precocious age. That's probably the only time Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be described as precocious. Ever. But there's no question he's the most experienced player under center as we prepare for the NFC and AFC Championship games.
Neither Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers nor Chicago's Jay Cutler had even won a playoff game before this season. And it's not certain we should count Cutler's victory over the Seahawks last week as a "playoff" win anyway. Does all of this experience guarantee Pittsburgh another championship? Nope. But it's one less issue the Steelers have to worry about.
"It helps being familiar with the atmosphere, the intensity of the game, knowing that every play matters, every play counts, every mistake is magnified," Roethlisberger said in a conference call Thursday afternoon. "Being here before I don't think you get surprised about how big the game is."
The one other quarterback with some experience in big games is also the youngest guy in the field. The Jets' Mark Sanchez, 24, will start his sixth playoff game this weekend in just his second pro season. But his big-game reputation is far from secure. Sanchez was brilliant against the Patriots last weekend and vs. Cincinnati last year. But he struggled against San Diego last season and again vs. the Colts in the wild-card round earlier this month. Sanchez had two touchdowns and an interception in the AFC Championship loss to Indianapolis in 2010. Advantage again to Roethlisberger.