Class of 2004 quarterbacks clash as Steelers face Giants

Fri Nov 2, 2012 2:41pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

(Reuters) - The New York Giants are playing like defending Super Bowl champions, making a real bid for repeat success but on Sunday they come up against a Pittsburgh Steelers team that also knows about going all the way.

The clash of two of the league's traditional teams at Metlife Stadium should be another fascinating test of the Giants' mettle, after their thrilling win at divisional rivals Dallas last week. It has been given extra piquancy by the contrast between the two quarterbacks who are both from the same draft class.

Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, in their ninth year in the league, both have two Super Bowl rings to their name and while they are vastly different quarterbacks in style they have long drawn comparison after the Giants opted for Manning in the 2004 draft.

New York traded up for Manning who had been taken as first pick overall by the San Diego Chargers while Roethlisberger was taken by Pittsburgh as the 11th pick in the first round.

At times, during some of Manning's more fragile spells, there were those who felt the Giants should have drafted Roethlisberger.

But after engineering two memorable Super Bowl wins for the Giants and becoming the league's specialist at fourth-quarter comebacks, there are not many among the Giants' faithful still with that opinion.

Roethlisberger was clearly a little irked to have been overlooked, however, and while his robust style has brought three Super Bowl appearances, he concedes he was once motivated by a desire to out-do Manning.

"Early on for me, it was more wanting to better than him," Roethlisberger said on a conference call this week.   Continued...

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passes against the New York Jets in the first quarter of their NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 16, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Cohn