Super Bowl 2011: 5 Keys for the Pittsburgh Steelers to Send Green Bay Packing
The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the New York Jets Sunday, 24-19, to clinch their 15th appearance in the Super Bowl.
The Steelers are looking to win their seventh title in franchise history and third in five years.
Standing in their way is a dynamic Green Bay Packers team that comes into the matchup on fire offensively and defensively.
Green Bay shut down the Philadelphia Eagles' stellar offense before going into Chicago and beating the Bears.
The question will arise; can Green Bay do it against one of the toughest teams to beat in the playoffs?
I say no, and the following slideshow explains why I think Pittsburgh walks out of Dallas with the distinction of "Most Decorated Franchise in NFL History." Take that, Jerry Jones.
Take Away the Packers Run Game
The rush defense this year was, far and away, the league's best, and if the Packers want to beat the Steelers, it will have to be through the air.
The Steelers rush defense had a league-low for rushing yards per game allowed (62.8 ypg) and only allowed one run of more than 20 yards during the regular season.
During this postseason, the Steelers have been even better.
The team is only allowing 2.6 yards per carry and 52.5 yards rushing per game, both are league-lows this year.
If the Steelers can keep the running game contained, it will take away play action and the secondary can concentrate on coverage.
That’s the only way to beat Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his ability pick defenses apart.
Make Aaron Rodgers Beat You
Mark Sanchez is not Aaron Rodgers.
The Green Bay Packers are a great passing team and they will have to beat the Steelers through the air if they want to capture the Super Bowl title.
One problem for Rodgers, though—the Pittsburgh secondary.
The Steelers pass defense is only allowing 155 yards per game through the air and the opposition is only averaging 5.7 yards per completion.
The Pittsburgh Steelers pass defense was ranked 12th this regular season, but it’s the time missed by Troy Polamalu that worries me.
Polamalu is still ailing from an achilles tendon injury he suffered, and it looked like the pain was still there in Sunday's game.
The biggest concern for the Steelers going into the Super Bowl should be the big-play ability of the Packers offense.
Aaron Rodgers averages over 263 yards passing and two touchdowns per game and he will have to win the game passing.
The secondary has played pretty well all things considered, as they rank fifth in interceptions (21) and have allowed the third-fewest passing touchdowns (15) during the regular season.
Pittsburgh's Run Game
The Steelers need to run the ball to win the game.
That’s their style of play and they live by the run. It helps control the clock, and between that and the defense, they are built to win championships.
The leader of the run game for the Steelers has been Rashard Mendenhall.
Mendenhall has 167 yards in two games this postseason and has added three touchdowns.
The biggest stat for Mendenhall is the eight first downs he has rushed for.
If a team’s running game can keep drives alive and keep the defense on the sideline and fresh, it’s a perfect recipe for success.
With a successful run game and Big Ben at the helm, the Steelers look destined for another title.
Big Ben is the ultimate playoff X-factor.
The man has won two Super Bowls and has 26 fourth quarter or overtime comeback victories.
It seems like he doesn’t play well until the game is on the line.
Big Ben didn’t have to pass a lot Sunday against the Jets after the Steelers went up early, but he was expected to run the offense to ensure a win.
Roethlisberger showed again, against one of the toughest defenses in the league, that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and maybe ever, by completing third downs and keeping drives alive.
The Jets pressured Roethlisberger, but Big Ben stood like the linebacker he appears to be and made the plays he had to make.
Ben is one of the strongest quarterbacks in the pocket, but still has an amazing mobility for breaking tackles or gaining three or four tough yards.
If Ben can keep himself upright long enough to make clear, concise passes then his Steelers will win their seventh Super Bowl.
It isn’t the Steelers first rodeo.
Big Ben and the Steelers have been to the Super Bowl twice in the last four years so they will be more acclimated to the ins and outs of Super Bowl week.
A lot of team’s rhythm is thrown off by all of the press days and Super Bowl celebrations and it is hard for them to concentrate on the task at hand.
A lot of the Steelers players have done this before and even if they haven’t, the veterans like Roethlisberger and Hines Ward will make sure their players know how to act and where to be.
The Green Bay Packers may be favored going into the Super Bowl and that on top of the players trying to soak in the excitement of the situation, may lead to the Packers not being as prepared as they could be.
That’s not to say the Packers will come out flat during the Super Bowl, but any advantage in a matchup this close could be the difference.
The reason the Steelers have so much faith in themselves is because they have been down in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl and come back to win.
They know they’re good and they will prove it again against Green Bay in the Super Bowl.