Pretty much any bigger quarterback who also likes to extend plays who comes out of college these days inevitably draws a comparison sooner or later to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger—specifically, they get compared to a ‘young Big Ben’. Among the more recent quarterback to receive that distinction is Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, who has his team at 9-3 in his third season.
There were five quarterbacks drafted in the first round that year, and while the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson was a unanimous MVP last year, and Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns set a rookie record for touchdowns and also has his team at 9-3 right now, you can certainly make the argument that Allen is the best of that group right now.
On the season, he is putting up very good numbers, completing 299 of 423 passes for 3403 yards with 26 touchdown passes to eight interceptions, averaging eight yards per attempt. He has also rushed for over 300 yards with six touchdowns on the ground. He even has a receiving touchdowns, believe it or not.
While Roethlisberger hasn’t ever caught a touchdown pass (at least since high school, that is), there are certainly those who see a young Big Ben in Allen, something that defensive coordinator Keith Butler noted earlier this week, comparing him to Roethlisberger “when he was young in terms of running the football”, though he never did it to the extent that Allen has—but he also had Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker.
Those comments have gotten back to Allen over the course of his career, but this is actually the first time that he gets to face Roethlisberger, because the latter missed their matchup last season because of his elbow injury. He commented on the comparison earlier this week:
What he has been able to do in his career, winning a couple of Super Bowls. Just the consistency that he has been able to do it with. The way that he plays, the style of game that he plays. He’s very hard to bring down. He’s got tremendous arm talent. He’s been doing it for a long time. He’s had a lot of success. I’d argue to say he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer. I am very humbled to be named in the same conversation as him and compared to what he was when he was younger. He’s still playing and at the top of his game right now and they are rolling, they are 11-1.
Sitting two games back behind the Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bills are still fighting to seeding in the playoffs, though they are also trying to fend off the Miami Dolphins, who are currently one game behind. This is certainly an important game for both teams, at a significant moment in their franchises—one testing how far they’ve come, and the other, arguably, how much they have left in the tank.