Super Bowl 2011 Linebacker Matchup: James Harrison vs. Clay Matthews

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IJanuary 31, 2011

Super Bowl 2011 Linebacker Matchup: James Harrison vs. Clay Matthews

0 of 6

    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Everyone is talking about the crucial Super Bowl XLV showdown between the Green Bay Packers' QB, Aaron Rodgers, and the Pittsburgh Steelers' signal caller, Ben Roethlisberger.

    Equally important to the outcome of the game will be the linebacker matchup between Clay Matthews (Packers) and James Harrison (Steelers).

    These are two of the best in the league at putting pressure on their opponents' QBs and stopping their RBs.

    Let's compare these two catalytic defenders in five crucial areas to see who will have a bigger impact on next Sunday's Super Bowl game.

Size

1 of 6

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    James Harrison: 6'0", 242 lbs.

    Clay Matthews: 6'3", 255 lbs.

     

    Matthews' prototypical size and length helps him make plays, deflect passes and get to the QB.

Tackles

2 of 6

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    James Harrison: 100 tackles in 2010 regular season

    Clay Matthews: 60 tackles in 2010 regular season

     

    Playing in Dick LeBeau's scheme, Harrison is set up as one of the Steelers' featured defenders on an every-down basis. Even with playing alongside Troy Polamalu, Harrison is a dominant force.

Sacks

3 of 6

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    James Harrison: 10.5 sacks in 2010 regular season—No. 15 in the NFL

    Clay Matthews: 13.5 sacks in 2010 regular season—No. 4 in the NFL

     

    Matthews is one of the top young rushers in the league, having collected 23.5 sacks in his first two years.

Turnovers

4 of 6

    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    James Harrison: Two interceptions and six fumbles forced in 2010 regular season

    Clay Matthews: One interception and two fumbles forced in 2010 regular season

    During Super Bowl XLIII, Harrison intercepted a pass from Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner at the goal line and ran back the length of the field for a 100-yard touchdown at the end of the first half.

    One of the great moments in Super Bowl history!

Experience

5 of 6

    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    James Harrison

    Seven years in NFL

    Two Super Bowl championships (2006, 2009)

    Four Pro Bowl selections (2007-2010)

    Three All-Pro selections (2007, 2008, 2010)

    2008 Defensive Player of the Year

     

    Clay Matthews

    Two years in NFL

    Two Pro Bowl selections (2009, 2010

    One All-Pro selection (2010)

Conclusion

6 of 6

    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    While both players have to be stopped, James Harrison will have a bigger impact on Super Bowl XLV than Clay Matthews as the Pittsburgh Steelers win their seventh Lombardi Trophy.