View Full Version : 11 reasons the Steelers can win.

02-04-2011, 12:12 AM
11 reasons the Steelers can win.

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By Gregg Rosenthal
updated 8:06 p.m. ET Feb. 3, 2011

Gregg Rosenthal
We almost expect a surprise in the Super Bowl by now.

The Giants knocked off the undefeated Patriots the year before the 9-7 Cardinals had Pittsburgh on the ropes. Despite a great record, the Saints were solid underdogs last season against the Colts.

There will be no upset this year. Packers coach Mike McCarthy is right when he says Green Bay is nobody’s underdog. Pittsburgh has the higher seed, more experience, and the best defense in football.

Since we’ve establish both teams could win this year, let’s look at how they can do it. Here are 11 reasons the Steelers can win. (We also offer 11 reasons the Packers can win.)

1. They know how to manage their weakness
Throughout the 2008 season, we repeatedly heard that the awful Steelers offensive line would be their downfall. Then they averaged 28 points per game in the playoffs on the way to a Super Bowl title.

This season, the Steelers lost their starting right tackle in the offseason and their starting left tackle in November. Pro Bowl center Maurice Pouncey is expected to miss the Sunday’s game and the team’s blind side replacement, Jonathan Scott, was a reject from Buffalo.

On paper, the Steelers shouldn’t be able to survive. But they’ve made it this far with an offense that has vastly out-produced the ’08 squad in every facet. They must be doing something right.

2. No defense for Ben Roethlisberger scrambles
The Steelers have the perfect quarterback to pair with an inconsistent offensive line. The offense plays its best when Roethlisberger is shaking off defenders.

The Packers defense knows this. I watched the Packers blow at least five sacks when the teams faced off in 2009. Roethlisberger finished with 504 yards passing.

Pittsburgh has built the perfect big-play offense to match Big Ben’s improvisational deep ball strengths. He finished first in the NFL in yards-per-completion and third in yards-per-attempt.

3. Speed kills out wide
Roethlisberger has the weapons to go vertical early and often. Mike Wallace might be the league's fastest receiver, a player already more dangerous than Santonio Holmes ever was.

Throw in rookies Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, and the Steelers actually have more speed at receiver than the Packers. Green Bay’s talented cornerbacks will have to get physical with Pittsburgh’s youngsters at the line of scrimmage. Even when that happens, Roethlisberger makes cornerbacks cover longer than usual while he’s extending plays.

4. They can run on Packers
The dirty secret of the Green Bay defense? They're vulnerable to powerful running attacks. The problem is that the Packers trail so infrequently that the issue rarely shows up.

Only four teams gave up more yards-per-carry than the Packers, while the Dolphins, Vikings, and Lions all wore Green Bay down and racked up big rushing yards by remaining patient.

The Steelers would love to limit the Packers’ possessions by going on a long, slow drives like they did to open the game against the Jets. Steelers coordinator Bruce Arians told me that Rashard Mendenhall’s AFC Championship performance was his best game as a pro, and the team is eager to see if he builds on it.

Mendenhall is capable of big games and the Packers defense is surprisingly capable of giving them up.

5. They will stay aggressive
These are not the conservative Steelers of the '70s. They understand Roethlisberger is ultimately their most dangerous offensive weapon and they won’t just let their defense carry the entire team.

Before the team’s biggest series of the season, Arians asked coach Mike Tomlin what he wanted in the waning moments of the AFC Championship.

“Play to win,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin called for five receivers and an empty backfield set on the game’s biggest play — a third down. Roethlisberger delivered. Arians’ unpredictability passing in obvious running situations should help keep the Packers off balance.

6. Packers haven’t faced many 3-4 defenses
The AFC Final Four was completely filled with 3-4 defenses. In the NFC, the Packers were the only team that runs a 3-4 defense which made the playoffs.

The Packers are relatively inexperienced facing a versatile 3-4 team in game action. They played only two such teams all year: The Dolphins and Jets. The Packers went 1-1 in those games, averaging only 14.5 points.

The Steelers have football's best 3-4 defense. Green Bay’s lack of familiarity facing the scheme could lead to mistakes recognizing pass rushers on Super Bowl Sunday.

7. The linebackers are better
The Packers have a pretty sweet linebacker group, but they can’t match Pittsburgh. The Packers have one great pass rusher; the Steelers have two. James Harrison remains one of the most intimidating players in football. Lamarr Woodley is the only player to record a sack in his first six postseason games, with 10 sacks over that span.

Woodley and Harrison are the only two Steelers to record 10 sacks in three consecutive seasons. Lawrence Timmons had his best year on the inside and James Farrior is a coach on the field.

Add it all up, and the Steelers linebackers fit right in with the groups on the Steel Curtain defense.

8. They don’t need Aaron Smith back
Defensive end Aaron Smith is one of the best defensive linemen of the last decade, and certainly one of the most underrated. With that said, 2009 first-round pick Ziggy Hood has done a terrific job replacing the injured Smith and Casey Hampton remains a force at nose tackle. Brett “The Beard” Keisel completes the rock solid defensive front.

The veteran Steelers defensive line can expertly take up blockers to allow their linebackers to make game-changing plays.

9. They don’t have to worry about the Packers running game
Pittsburgh can stop Green Bay’s running game without really trying. That will allow Steelers defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau to use extra defensive backs and focus all his efforts on disrupting Aaron Rodgers. The extra numbers will help.

Cornerback Ike Taylor enjoyed a solid season and safety Ryan Clark doesn’t get enough credit for his role in making Troy Polamalu great. Still, Pittsburgh’s secondary is still the defense's weak spot. With that in mind, it’s a major bonus the Steelers don’t have to worry about containing the Packers' running game.

10. The Packers let teams hang around
In one sense, the Packers overachieved to survive their injuries and make the playoffs. Looking at it another way, they never should have lost six games because they let teams hang around too often.

In losses to the Bears, Redskins, Dolphins, and Patriots, the Packers out-played their opposition and still lost. They dominated the Eagles, but Michael Vick had a chance to win the game on the last possession. Green Bay manhandled the Bears in the NFC Championship, but Caleb freaking Hanie had Chicago in position late to tie the game.

Whether it’s mental errors or poor clock management, these talented Packers have a tendency to keep games closer than they should be. That’s a dangerous approach when you are facing a team with the fourth quarter pedigree of the Steelers.

11. The Steelers don’t lose big games
Pittsburgh is 9-1 in the playoffs since 2005, including two Super Bowl wins. Experience isn’t everything, but the experience of winning again and again when it matters most has to mean something.

The Steelers can fall behind like the did against Baltimore, and they believe they will win. They nearly gave up a huge lead to the Jets, and still believed they would win.

Perhaps the Steelers will get the ball late against the Packers after falling behind in the game for the first time. Ben Roethlisberger can look at his teammates and tell them he’s got it covered because he’s done it all before.

02-05-2011, 03:39 PM
Why the Steelers will win

Matt Hayes SN Icon Sporting News

DALLAS—Hines Ward walked into Day 1 of Super Bowl week, black cowboy hat firmly on his head and a wide smile planted on his face.

"I figured," Ward said, "Why not blend in?"


Rashard Mendenhall is an underrated part of the Steelers' attack. (AP photo)

Like the Steelers are out of place here. No team in the history of the NFL has felt more at home—more at peace—on the game's biggest stage. Some wilt under the pressure.
And Hines Ward? He blends.

"Just because it's the biggest game of the season," said Ward, a two-time Super Bowl winner and the MVP of Super Bowl XL, "doesn't mean you run away and hide."

This, everyone, is why the Steelers will beat the Packers on Sunday in Super Bowl XLV. In four decades of Super Bowls, the Pittsburgh franchise has become as much a part of the history of the game as the spectacle itself.

Rarely, if ever, are there clear talent disparities between teams in this game. The difference, more times than not, is who handles the hype and pressure of the biggest game most ever will play in.

That's why the Steelers will win their seventh Lombardi Trophy.
Been there, done that, back again.

"No pressure at all," Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison said. "We all have a job to do. The goal is to do it better than the guy on the other side of the ball."

That said, here are four other reasons why the Steelers will win Super Bowl XLV:

1. Pressure on the quarterback. The Steelers have the NFL's best defense (14.5 points allowed per game) for two reasons: They get consistent pressure on the quarterback and create turnovers. The two go hand-in-hand.

Pittsburgh led the NFL in sacks (48) and was third in forced turnovers (35). The Packers' offense revolves around quarterback Aaron Rodgers and an intermediate-to-deep passing game. Those routes take time to run—and give the Steelers more opportunity to create havoc.

2. Coverage in the secondary. The Packers rolled through the NFC playoffs because receivers consistently won individual battles and the timing-based passing game never was interrupted. Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden are physical cornerbacks who thrive in man-to-man coverage—allowing safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark to freelance more in blitz packages and coverage.

3. The running game. The emergence of Rashard Mendenhall in the playoffs has been overlooked. The third-year pro has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, but his bruising, pile-moving style in postseason fits perfectly with the winning formula in the playoffs: Run the ball, control tempo, play strong defense.

4. The presence of Ben Roethlisberger. He's not Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. He's not even Aaron Rodgers. But no one in the league plays as well in big games as Big Ben.
Don't let his struggles against the Jets in the AFC championship game fool you. The Steelers had a 24-0 lead and simply were trying to salt away the game. When Pittsburgh needed big plays in the second half with the game on the line, Roethlisberger delivered time after time—including critical third-down scramble runs to keep drives alive to chew clock and a scramble and third-down completion with less than 90 seconds to play to seal the victory.

Wide receiver Mike Wallace will stretch the field with his deep speed, and Ward and tight end Heath Miller will make big catches over the middle. All three are difficult to cover without safety help—further putting pressure on the Packers to play nearly perfectly on defense.

"People look at them and don't see the Patriots or the Saints or the Colts on offense," Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said, "but they're very good on offense. They're persistent, and they know what they want to do."

Sounds a lot like the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

Been there, done that, back again.

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02-05-2011, 11:42 PM
I sure like reading articles that explain how we will win tomorrow!!

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