New York Giants: Eli Manning vs. Big Ben for the fourth and potentially last time 2
Nov 20, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) drops back to pass against the Chicago Bears during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The storied careers of Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger will cross paths on Sunday for the fourth and possibly final time.

The biggest storyline of Sunday’s game is that it will pit two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks from the 2004 draft class for the fourth and perhaps final time. Roethlisberger holds a 2-1 edge over Eli Manning in this match-up and surprisingly, the road team has won each of their three meetings.

You can’t call Manning vs. Roethlisberger a legendary rivalry with the likes of Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning dominating the same time frame. Their teams also only play each other once every four years. However, it’s still special, since matchups between quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowls is such a rarity, and who knows when we’ll see it again. Outside of Manning and Roethlisberger, the only other active quarterback in the NFL with multiple Super Bowl rings is Tom Brady.

The careers of Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have and will always be linked together because of the events that happened on draft day in 2004.

As we all know, the San Diego Chargers took Eli Manning with the first pick in the draft, and then the Giants drafted Philip Rivers with the fourth pick, and then traded him along with three picks to the Chargers to acquire Manning. However, had general manager Ernie Accorsi not been able to work out a trade with the Chargers to draft Rivers and then trade him to the Chargers, the Giants would have drafted Roethlisberger.

Since then, people have debated who is the better quarterback, and what would the Giants’ and Steelers’ franchises fortunes have been if the Giants drafted Roethlisberger instead.

Both franchises couldn’t be happier with the quarterback they wound up getting as each franchise has won two Super Bowls.

Roethlisberger has been the more contestant of the two and has a better win-loss record with a record of 130-66 to Manning’s 113-92 (postseason included), whereas Manning has been the more durable and prolific passer. Manning has the edge in touchdown passes 314 (seventh all-time) to 295 (tenth all-time), and in passing yards 47,089 (eighth all-time) to 45,740 (elevnth all-time).

They’ve appeared in five of the last 11 Super Bowls, winning four of them, and have each been named to the Pro Bowl four times. With the success they’ve had along with Philip Rivers’s excellent career, the 2004 quarterback draft class ranks right up there with the 1983 draft class.

However, in their previous three matchups, the quarterback play has been subpar. Manning has completed 45 out of 79 passes for 506 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Roethlisberger has completed 52 out of 87 passes for 721 yards with four touchdowns and seven interceptions. Whichever quarterback plays better on Sunday, will likely result in their team winning.

Unless the Giants and Steelers meet in a Super Bowl, the next time these teams will play each other will be in 2020. By that time, Roethlisbeger will be 38 and Manning will be 39. By then it’s possible one if not both quarterbacks will have retired. So, this could be the final time these two quarterbacks who are arguably the best quarterbacks in the history of their respective franchises, share the same field together.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.