On an NFL weekend that generated no movement among the top four players on the MVP Meter, Ben Roethlisberger is on the rise even though he did not throw for a touchdown and had arguably his worst game of the season Sunday.
With Philly leading by a point and 6:33 left in the game, Pittsburgh was on the brink of falling to 1-3. Its offense was backed up on its own 10-yard line after Willie Colon was flagged for holding, setting up 1st-and-20. However, Roethlisberger completed four of his five passes — including two on third downs — for 50 yards and led the Steelers on a 14-play, 64-yard drive, setting up PK Shaun Suisham’s game-winning 34-yard field goal, which sailed through the uprights with no time left on the clock.
It was Roethlisberger’s controlled play late, in a game that easily could have resulted in a crushing loss, that keyed the Steelers’ comeback.
Pittsburgh is a .500 team again and Roethlisberger is the sixth-highest rated passer in the league (100.6). He has kept Pittsburgh afloat through defensive injuries and a dormant running game that was little help prior to Rashard Mendenhall’s return in Week Five.
(Last week’s ranking in parantheses)
1. Falcons QB Matt Ryan (No. 1) — Ryan’s streak of games with a passer rating of 100 or better ended Sunday vs. the Redskins. He turned the ball over twice and his second-quarter interception was returned for a TD, but Ryan did not let a little adversity affect him. He threw two TDs and matched a career high by completing 34 passes, leading the Falcons back from a fourth-quarter deficit to improve to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.
2. Texans DE J.J. Watt (No. 2) — He didn’t disappoint in front of a national audience Monday night in the Texans’ win over the Jets. Watt showed just how complete of a defender he is, making six tackles, including a sack (he leads the league with 8½). The dominant five-technique also batted down three passes, one of which was picked off. He has eight passes defensed, three of which have resulted in interceptions. Watt is changing games like few players on either side of the ball can.
3. Giants QB Eli Manning (No. 3) — With WRs Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden out, Manning pulled rookie WR Reuben Randle aside during the week to help prepare him for Sunday’s game vs. the Browns, and it appeared to pay off Sunday, as Randle led the Giants with six catches for 82 yards. Manning, who had a big assist from RB Ahmad Bradshaw (200 yards rushing, TD), hit WR Victor Cruz for three TDs in the Giants’ win.
4. Patriots QB Tom Brady (No. 4) — Brady, who has the same TD-INT ratio as Alex Smith and Ben Roethlisberger (8-to-1) was highly efficient in his turnover-free game vs. the Broncos, completing 74.2 percent of his passes and throwing one TD. He led four scoring drives of 80 yards or more in the victory.
5. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (No. 10) — Since throwing a pick-six to Broncos CB Tracy Porter in Week One, Roethlisberger has taken extremely good care of the ball. He has not turned it over since. It speaks to his maturity in his ninth season. He’s on pace to set what would be a career-high in pass attempts (628) but also a career-low in interceptions (four).
6. Ravens QB Joe Flacco (No. 6) — The Ravens were able to hang on for a road win over the Chiefs, but Flacco had his worst game of the season. He threw for less than 200 yards and did not have a TD for the first time. He also was picked off. Flacco has had a couple of clunkers this season, but he’s played like one of the league’s top quarterbacks more often than not.
7. Texans RB Arian Foster (Cusp) — Foster, Houston’s primary offensive weapon, rushed for a season-high 152 yards — his third 100-yard game of 2012 — in Houston’s win over the Jets on Monday night. He leads the league in rushing attempts (132) and rushing TDs (five), and is second in rushing yards (532).
8. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 5) — Rodgers’ interception on the first possession of the third quarter was the beginning of the Colts’ comeback win over the Packers, who led 21-3 at the time of the pick. He had his second-straight game with a passer rating of 100-plus, but the loss and his fourth pick in five games result in a drop on the Meter.
9. Broncos QB Peyton Manning (No. 8) — Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich’s strip-sack of Manning in the third quarter Sunday set up a New England TD and was a devastating blow for Denver. Aside from coughing up the ball, Manning was outstanding in defeat, throwing all three of the Broncos’ TDs. He has a TD-INT ratio of 8-0 in his last three games.
10. 49ers QB Alex Smith (Cusp) — After a couple so-so outings, Smith had his best game of the year vs. the Bills (18-of-24 for 303 yards, three TDs and no interceptions), who came into Week Five averaging two takeaways per game. He is the league’s highest-rated passer (108.8).
On the cusp (in alphabetical order): Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles, Giants WR Victor Cruz, Bengals WR A.J. Green, Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, Vikings WR Percy Harvin, Bears CB Tim Jennings, Lions WR Calvin Johnson, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch, Broncos LB Von Miller, Texans QB Matt Schaub, Colts WR Reggie Wayne.