Super Bowl XLV is just around the corner.
Bags are packed and all around the country, 110,000 lucky fans are about to be treated to an epic matchup.
Two of the NFL’s oldest franchises are set to do battle this Sunday.
The Steelers are looking to add a seventh Super Bowl ring to their collection. However, that quest has taken an ominous turn as their Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey may miss the game.
Pouncey sustained a serious ankle injury two weeks ago. The Steelers still managed to win the game and advance to the Super Bowl.
However, the potential loss of Pouncey will make things tough on the depleted Pittsburgh offensive line. The Steelers have had a lot of injury troubles throughout the season. This Sunday, they find themselves without veterans Willie Colon, who injured his Achilles before the season and Max Starks, who was lost in Week 9 against Cincinnati, due to an injury to his neck.
This makes Pouncey all the more vital for the Steelers protection unit.
Pittsburgh takes on one of the best pass rushes this Sunday. Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji caused havoc for offensive backfields all season. Raji is an imposing figure on defense; standing 6’2’’ and 337 pounds, he is difficult assignment for even the best interior lineman in the NFL.
This postseason, Raji has been one of the standouts on a Packers defense already considered one of the best in football. Clay Matthews had a breakout season in 2010 and has continued to shine in the postseason. In just two short years, he has already become one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL, possessing an amazing ability to fly off the corner and disrupt the offense before a play even gets started.
This is why Pouncey is so critical for Pittsburgh to achieve victory Super Bowl Sunday. They need to find a way to slow down the pass rush of Green Bay. That’s already a difficult task, but without Pouncey, it might as well be impossible.
At this moment, reports look promising for Pittsburgh. Pouncey has stated that his ankle feels “good” this week. He is going to give practice a try on Friday to test his injured ankle. If things go well, there is a strong possibility he will play Sunday.
Pouncey does sound optimistic. He even told Pittsburgh-Tribune reporters, "Don't give up on me yet...Miracles do happen...I am walking around pretty good, and they didn't expect to have the cast off until later in the week."
It will be interesting to see if said miracle does occur come game day.
If Pouncey is out, the Steelers will turn to Doug Legursky. It’s not ideal by any means for the Steelers. Legursky did not show a lot to be confident in during the AFC Championship Game. When deep in their own territory, Legursky had a bad snap that cost the Steelers a safety.
However, if history shows anything it’s this: Big-time games can evoke the best response from backup players (David Tyree anyone?)
Obviously, Legursky is not going to be making any catches on his helmet. Yet if he can slow down the strong defensive pressure of the Packers, the Steelers might just be adding another ring to their impressive Super Bowl collection.