The Super Bowl 2011 matchup has been decided. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers will battle for the Vince Lombardi Trophy on February 6th, 2011. Both teams are very similar, they possess poised quarterbacks, nasty linebackers and big, rumbling defensive linemen.
But who has the edge?
Well, both teams can if they execute a proper game plan—well properly. For both teams it will be not allowing the quarterbacks to get too comfortable in the pocket, as they both can take off as quick as a whip. Both Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers have at least one rushing touchdown this postseason.
While Rodgers was somewhat silenced of his "hot streak" last Sunday in Chicago (no passing touchdowns, two interceptions, 55.4 QB rating) he had to rely on his legs to make plays and score.
This poses a problem to the Packers, as the Steelers have the best overall defense and rushing defense in this year's postseason. Then again, Chicago had one of the better rush defenses in the postseason and look what Green Bay did to them.
Pittsburgh can prevent Rodgers from making big plays, providing their players show up to do what they've done week in and week out.
However, Pittsburgh has a talented defense full of players who can make Rodgers night hell, let's take a look at them:
James Harrison- Outside Linebacker
An absolute menace at the linebacker position, the anchor of one of the best groups in the NFL. Harrison loves getting to the quarterback and will love trying to introduce Aaron Rodgers to the turf on every blitz. Harrison recorded 10.5 sacks in the regular season, while adding three more in the Divisional Game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Not only should he blitz Rodgers at least once a series, he should be playing a close knit zone in either flats or the middle of the field.
He would then be able to stop the play in the backfield or deliver the crushing blow to break up the play.
A combination of playing zone and spying on the quarterback will also help stop Rodgers from trying to take off and gain positive yardage.
Troy Polamalu- Strong Safety
Everybody knows this guy, mainly for his hair, though as they've seen him numerous times in Head and Shoulders commercials. But for those who don't know how well he plays, well then they have a lot to learn.
He needs to be Rodgers worst nightmare. If the Steelers rush Rodgers and force him to throw up the desperation ball, then Polamalu will have many opportunities to pick the ball off.
Pittsburgh will use him as an extra pass-rusher in some plays too. That'll make Rodgers a little more jumpy than usual and cause his game to get flustered.
They should look to send him on blitz's at least five times a half.
Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior- Inside Linebacker
The leading tackler for the Steelers this postseason in Timmons, combined with a two-time Super Bowl winning linebacke in James Farriorr = a long night for the Packers.
With Timmons, you get the package that gives you a player who can cover all aspects of the field. Expect to see Timmons break up a lot of passes over the middle.
Farrior has been the heart of the Steelers defense ever since he started playing for the organization in 2002. Timmons and himself will be all over the field come Super Bowl Sunday and they too, like Harrison, should do some spying on the quarterback and even run some plays where they simply contain Rodgers and get him jittery.
These two with a combination of Harrison can silence Rodgers rush attempts completely.
Ike Taylor- Cornerback
With the Steelers blitzing all night (hopefully), Taylor and the other cornerbacks and nickel-backs will find themselves being put out on islands. That will be no easy task considering the wide receivers he'll be going up against.
Taylor should primarily focus on Greg Jennings and shutting him down the entire night. Nothing easy can be let up.
While Jennings provides the biggest deep ball threat, Donald Driver can't be forgotten about. On third downs is when the Steelers secondary should spotlight Driver and anticipate him to run a slant route or a simply "out" route.
Rodgers lost some of his fire last week against Chicago, the secondary should look to capitalize on that and continue to make him feel uneasy when he releases the ball.
I speak for this entire line as a whole because most often there are only three-down linemen. Aaron Smith will most likely not be present for the big game which will continue to be a huge loss for the Steelers.
Each player (Casey Hampton DT, Brett Keisel DE and Ziggy Hood DE) needs to put constant pressure on Rodgers. I may sound redundant, but the key to stopping Rodgers will be making him think he has no time in the pocket, hitting him, and not allowing him to rush for more than ten yard gains.
Dick LeBeau should call plays where the D-line execute stunt plays and should issue zone blitzes. Main goal with that: confuse Rodgers.
Defense wins championships and the Steelers have done so in both 2005 and 2008. I have complete faith in the Steelers that they'll be able to stop the rush attack of James Starks, that's why the focus is on Rodgers and his play-making abilities.
What it comes down to is that Pittsburgh just needs to play their game. It's worked for them throughout the season and playoffs thus far.
Why wouldn't it work in the Super Bowl?