Because the Steelers also had one of the worst special teams in the NFL that season. They lost seven games that season by a combined margin of 28 points, which is exactly the number of points the Steelers special teams allowed on kickoff returns. One fewer kickoff return TD allowed likely would have put the Steelers in the playoffs.
Originally Posted by jailedgiantsfan
There was also that disturbing tendency for the defense to collapse in the fourth quarter. The Steelers had the lead entering the fourth quarter in 14 games that season, but somehow only won nine of them. This is why:
1st quarter points allowed: 56
2nd quarter points allowed: 75
3rd quarter points allowed: 52
4th quarter points allowed: 135
That season, the Steelers allowed more points in the fourth quarter than they did in any two other quarters combined, and only two other teams in the NFL allowed more points in the fourth quarter than the Steelers did.
And Roethlisberger had absolutely nothing to do with any of those collapses, considering he threw zero INTs in the fourth quarter that season, and the one fumble he lost in the fourth quarter was during the regular-season finale against the Dolphins, after all the damage had been done.
It's also worth noting that the Steelers finished that season with an identical record to the Giants this season. They just weren't fortunate enough to play in an overrated division. In fact, Roethlisberger has never gone to the playoffs with a record worse than 10-6. Eli, on the other hand, has taken an 8-8 team and a 9-7 team to the playoffs.
Then there's the individual comparisons. Were you aware that Roethlisberger has a better career winning percentage, completion percentage, TD percentage, INT percentage, TD/INT ratio and passer rating than Eli does, plus more yards per game and yards per attempt? Here's the list right now:
Ben Roethlisberger: 80-33 (.708)
Eli Manning: 69-50 (.580)
Ben Roethlisberger: 63.1%
Eli Manning: 58.4%
Yards per game
Ben Roethlisberger: 235.2
Eli Manning: 231.8
Yards per attempt
Ben Roethlisberger: 8.0
Eli Manning: 7.0
Ben Roethlisberger: 5.0%
Eli Manning: 4.7%
Ben Roethlisberger: 3.0%
Eli Manning: 3.3%
Ben Roethlisberger: 1.65
Eli Manning: 1.43
Ben Roethlisberger: 92.1
Eli Manning: 82.1
Eli has generally played better in the Super Bowl than Roethlisberger has, but that's where it stops for him. Even then, the Super Bowl is but one element in a QB's entire body of work, and performance therein might not necessarily be a good indicator of anything, considering Jim Plunkett has a better Super Bowl aggregate than Jim Kelly.
On a side note, I really don't appreciate the way non-Steeler fans are already trying to marginalize Roethlisberger's performance in Super Bowl XLIII. He played as well as any QB would have, given the complete lack of help by anybody else on offense not named Santonio Holmes or Heath Miller. The running game was a non-factor (58 yards, 2.2 YPC), and the starting C and RG were both out of football within a year (not due to old age either). Furthermore, their average starting field position was their own 23-yard line, and they didn't have a scoring drive shorter than 69 yards.
And Eli has benefited from a good defense just as much as Roethlisberger has. Consider these combined statistical averages from Eli's 2007 and 2011 post-seasons, and Roethlisberger's 2005, 2008 and 2010 post-seasons:
Points allowed per game
Yards allowed per game
Takeaways per game
The Giants have had a more efficient running game during their Super Bowl runs as well.
Yards per carry
And yet, the Steelers have been more productive at scoring during their Super Bowl runs.
Points per game
NOTE: Points allowed per game factors out all points scored by opposing defenses or special teams. Points per game factors out all points scored by each team's defense or special teams.
Basically, I believe that Eli Manning has earned some respect, but I also believe that Ben Roethlisberger has earned more respect than he's gotten. Furthermore, either both QBs are "elite," or neither of them are. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot say that Eli is elite but Roethlisberger is not, or vice versa. The Steelers and Giants have both found the franchise QBs they've needed in order to be consistent Super Bowl contenders, and it's perfectly acceptable for neither fan base to desire the other's QB more than their own.
"I came here to play with him. I think he has a lot of respect from around the league. He's a top-flight quarterback. People are going to have to respect it sooner or later."
-Jerricho Cotchery, Steelers WR, on playing football with Ben Roethlisberger (November 17, 2013)