Crunching the Numbers: Comparing two remaining quarterbacks from the class of 2004

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 11-3 and hoping to break their losing streak in Week 16 as they return home to face the Indianapolis Colts. With only two games left in the regular season to get things straight before the postseason, the Steelers are faced with a team fighting for their own playoff position.

As much as it would be easy to beat the dead horse of the Steelers offensive woes over the last month, I’m going to take a different approach since there are two quarterbacks facing off from the most distant NFL draft class which still has multiple quarterbacks remaining.

In this installment of Crunching the Numbers, we’ll take a look at the career statistics of Ben Roethlisberger and Phillip Rivers to see how they stack up.


Going back in time, the 2004 NFL draft is the latest one can go in which multiple players drafted still took the field in 2020. In all, there are 5 players from the 2004 draft who played this season. They are quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, and Matt Schaub along with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and punter Andy Lee. Of those five players, only Fitzgerald and Roethlisberger played their entire career for the same franchise.

4 vs. 11

In the 2004 draft, Philip Rivers was selected fourth overall by the New York Giants and was traded to the San Diego Chargers on draft day along with the Giants 2004 third-round pick, their 2005 first-round pick, and their 2005 fifth-round pick for Eli Manning. Ben Roethlisberger was the third quarterback taken in the draft and was selected in the 11th position by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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138 v. 168

Over their careers, Ben Roethlisberger has amassed 30 more victories, including the postseason, as a starter. Philip Rivers has a regular-season record of 133-105 and a postseason record of 5-6 giving him a total of 138 victories. Roethlisberger has a record of 155-74-1 and a playoff record of 13-8 which gives him 168 career victories. These numbers are reflected on the exact same number of career games in which they have appeared as Rivers has played in 10 more regular season games than Roethlisberger, but has appeared in 10 less postseason games.


For their entire career, both players have a regular-season average of 21.6 completions per game. The attempts by each player are almost identical as well as Rivers has attempted 33.4 passes per game with Roethlisberger averaging 33.6 passes.


Over their careers, the two players of also average the same number of touchdowns per game during the regular season with a 1.7 average. When it comes to yards, Rivers holds a slight advantage of 260.4 yards per game to Rothlisberger’s 258.7 yards per game. Rivers has thrown 419 touchdowns in the regular season in his career where Roethlisberger has thrown 393. When it comes to the postseason, Roethlisberger has a large advantage throwing 30 touchdowns to Rivers’ 14.


Additionally, both players also average the same number of interceptions at 0.9 per game. Rivers has thrown 207 interceptions during the regular season in his career while Roethlisberger has 201. When it comes to playoffs, Roethlisberger has thrown many more interceptions (24 to 10) but has also appeared in many more games (21 to 11).

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Throughout their careers, these two quarterbacks have faced off six times between the regular season and postseason. So far, each player has managed three victories when facing the other. Five of the six matchups have occurred in the regular season while Roethlisberger was victorious in 2008 postseason on the Steelers defeated the San Diego chargers 35-24.


The biggest difference between these two players, and which may be the difference with their ease in getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is the number of Super Bowl championships won. Ben Roethlisberger has been to the Super Bowl three times in his career and his won twice while Philip Rivers has never made it past the AFC championship game.

So there are some numbers in regards to the careers of Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers. With only Tom Brady (2000), Drew Brees (2001), and Jason Witten (2003) appearing in an NFL game this season who were drafted previous to Roethlisberger and Rivers, this could be the final career game featuring two quarterbacks drafted prior to 2005. While these two players will not step foot on the field at the same time, seeing one last duel from the infamous 2004 quarterback draft class will be something of note on Sunday.

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