Super Bowl 2011: Why Underdog Pittsburgh Steelers Will Top Green Bay Packers
The 2011 Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas promises to be a classic clash between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers finished the season with a 12-4 record and were the number two seed in the AFC. Meanwhile the Packers were in a win or go home situation for the past five weeks and managed to slip in to the number six seed in the NFC.
Going into the game the Packers are favored by 2.5 points despite sneaking into the playoffs. This is in large part because the Packers have arguably the best player on each side of the ball.
Aaron Rodgers is the hottest quarterback in the league and Clay Matthews has a good chance to win Defensive Player of the Year after recording 14.0 sacks.
There is definitely a lot to like about the Packers heading into Super Bowl XLV.
But here is why the Steelers will rise to the occasion and pull off the upset on the biggest Sunday in the NFL season.
This is not to say Mike McCarthy is not an excellent coach because he has shown this season that he is a man anyone would want leading their team.
In fact after all the injuries (Ryan Grant and Jeremichael Finley) the Packers have had to endure the case could be made for McCarthy as Coach of the Year.
However McCarthy's resume, particularly his playoff resume, can not compare to Steelers' coach Mike Tomlin.
Tomlin is a combined 48-22 since taking over for Bill Cowher and already has one Coach of the Year Award to his credit.
On top of that this is Tomlin's second Super Bowl after leading the Steelers' to victory over the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
Obviously the Steelers two Super Bowl victories in the last six seasons will help them stay calm and collective under pressure.
However, it is not so much the Steelers experience as it is the Packers inexperience that could cost them. The feeling and atmosphere surrounding a Super Bowl is often something that players say can not be described until expereienced.
Well experience is something these Packers definitely lack. Of the current roster only one member of the Green Bay Packers has a Super Bowl ring.
That one member is running back John Kuhn, who earned his ring while he was a member of the Steelers practice squad in 2005.
This game will be key for the Packers future and the next time they make it to Super Bowl Sunday they will know what to expect. But this season it may be too much too soon for the young Green Bay team.
Obviously Aaron Rodgers has vaulted himself into the upper echelon of starting quarterbacks in the NFL. He is now one of the most feared passers in the game and a perennial MVP candidate.
However, Ben Roethlisberger is quickly becoming one of the most under appreciated and undervalued quarterbacks of our generation.
Roethlisberger already has two Super Bowl rings and a third would tie him among active players with the future Hall of Famer Tom Brady.
Roethlisberger experience in the leagues biggest game will pay huge dividends for the Steelers. Following a four game suspension he has fought through adversity all season only to find himself in a position that he is all too familiar with.
While Clay Matthews may be the best linebacker in this game, the better group certainly belongs to the Steelers.
In the defensive cooredinator Dick Labeau's 3-4 system the Steelers have four Pro Bowl worthy linebackers in their starting unit.
James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons man the inside linebacker positions while James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are on the edge.
Combined they have seven Pro Bowl selections and six Super Bowl Rings. Harrison, as many likely remember, also holds the record for the longest interception return in the history of the Super Bowl so he is no stranger to big spots.
Aaron Rodgers will have to account for these four Steelers all night and that is no easy task.
Simply put Polamalu is the biggest difference maker in this game and, arguably, in the National Football League.
When he is healthy, which is not nearly as often as coach Mike Tomlin would like, the Steelers are a completely different football team.
The past two seasons the Steelers are just 6-7 when Polamalu is not on the field. The bad news for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers wide receivers is that he will be on the field in Arlington.
This past season Polamalu was voted into his sixth Pro Bowl. He also had seven interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and always seems to make big plays in the biggest game.
Sources say that Smith will be ready to go for the Super Bowl so the Steelers defense should be even more feared than normally.
Smith has been out since Week 8 but the organization chose to not put him on the IR for this exact reason.
His last two seasons have both been cut short due to injury but Smith is the Steelers best pass rushing defensive lineman when he is on the field.
If Smith can return to form following his torn biceps he could make sure Aaron Rodgers has even less time to find his elite receiving core.
Team of Destiny
These Steelers seem to have been on a collision course all season for a classic AFC Championship game with the New England Patriots. After Tom Brady and the Pats fell to the Jets few people doubted the Steelers would be heading back to the Super Bowl.
However, that does not necessarily mean things came easy for the Steelers this year. Dating back to the offseason they had to trade former Surper Bowl hero and leading receiver Santonio Holmes.
There was also the legal troubles and the four game suspension of franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Many thought this would severely affect Pittsburgh but they manged to go 3-1 during that stretch.
After Big Ben came back the Steelers suffered another blow when they lost DE Aaron Smith for the remainder of the regular season.
On top of all that James Harrison spent the season worrying about fines for illegal hits and dealing with the fact that he believed the NFL was targeting him.
Even through all of that coach Mike Tomlin was able to help the Steelers keep their focus and they are yet again in positon to be the top team in the NFL.
Building Of a Dynasty
Nobody has to remind the 2010 Steelers what a victory over the Green Bay Packers would mean to their legacy.
The black and yellow boys already own six Super Bowl trophies and one more by this group would solidify themselves in Steelers' lore. It also would put them near the same level as the Terry Bradshaw led Pittsburgh dynasty of the past.
In today's NFL with free agents constantly changing teams and a tough salary cap, a third Super Bowl victory in six seasons would certainly put the Steelers in a class with few others.
In the end it would be impossible to call the Pittsburgh Steelers anything besides a dynasty.
Super Bowl XLV Prediction
In the end the Steelers' defense, with their linebackers and play-making safety Troy Polamalu, will be too much for the Packers to handle.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will put up a valiant effort but this Steelers team is simply too much for any one man to handle.
This certinaly won't be the last time Rodger's leads the Pack to the Super Bowl. Next time, with more expereince, he will have a better shot at the Lombardi.
Behind Super Bowl MVP Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers come out on top 27-17.