It was the 2004 NFL Draft and there was a debate over which young quarterback, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers or Big Ben Roethlisberger, would be taken first.
In a quarterback draft class that could be compared to those in 1971 and 1983, not only was Manning taken first, but there was a trade between he and the second player taken, Rivers, making Roethlisberger the third. Yet, it's the number ten that keeps popping up when considering the two quarterbacks.
Ten players ended up being taken before Big Ben, something which he hasn't forgotten. - http://t.co/SmevZNyY
When Big Ben and Eli, No. 10 in your New York Giants program, take the field at the Meadowlands Sunday, it will be yet another act in the dramatic play that has been unfolding in front of us ever since that April day in 2004.
When you look at the accomplishments, the numbers and the hardware, Big Ben and Eli remain at or near the top of the class.
If It Ain't Steel wrote an article back in February about the connection between the two, and many others have written articles comparing the two as well. It seems they can't escape comparisons of late. - http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2012/02/another-gratuitous-ben-vs-eli-article_16.html
The comparisons having grown especially strong with Eli matching Big Ben with his second Super Bowl win, as well as second comeback victory and game MVP, last season.
How similar their paths have been can be detailed in various ways, including each winning on the other's home field. They met in '04 with the Steelers winning 33-30, and then the Giants returned the favor in '08 with a 21-14 victory.
Both quarterbacks are also very clutch.
Eli has led the Giants to 10 fourth-quarter comebacks over the past two seasons. While Big Ben set a record for most fourth-quarter comeback victories (19) and game-winning drives (25) through a QB's first seven seasons. He now sits at 21 and 27 respectively.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley even tells the tale of the tape, charting even more similarities, in an article he recently wrote on the two heavyweights: http://t.co/bJ44e69p
As Hensley points out in his piece, Big Ben does have the edge in wins. However, in the tenth month of October, Big Ben has a 25-8 record. An admirable record, but one that has him third among active quarterbacks. Who's directly ahead of him? Eli with a 26-5 record.
When all things are laid down, it simply put is hard to separate the two quarterbacks in terms of their intangibles too.
Big Ben is a barn-strong man who is hard to bring down and fits the blue-collar mentality of Pittsburgh.
Eli represents New York well-enough as well, known for its toughness. Ripping away from a sure sack to throw the famous helmet catch by tight end David Tyree keeping the drive alive in Giants-Patriots I solidified that.
Don't sleep on Big Ben's pump fake ability, either. Ask any NFL defensive back, it can be deadly. A fact that was evidenced again last Sunday against the Redskins.
Also underrated is Eli's escapability. His footwork allows him to maneuver in and out of the pocket to make plays. It is something the Steelers must respect this Sunday.
All things considered, consistency and playoff wins are what will generally define a quarterback, especially if you are truly of the elite. In this, Big Ben holds the edge with 10 playoff wins to Eli's eight.
Ultimately, though, the pinnacle of those achievements is the Lombardi Trophy. And since it has been pointed out that Big Ben and Eli are even in that category, the most important number for them may in actuality be three.