SUPERBOWL XLV: PACKERS vs. STEELERS

SuperBowl XLV logo

By Craig Phelps

The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers have never met in a Super Bowl.  That is quiet the phenomenon considering the history of these two storied franchises.

The Steelers are on their second stretch in franchise history of multiple Super Bowl victories within a six year span.  Between the years of 1974 and 1979, the Steelers won four Super Bowls.  This time around, they are looking at Super Bowls in 2005, 2008, and they could potentially win their seventh NFL title in 2011.  The Steelers, who have already won more Super Bowls than any other NFL team, have already won 13.6 percent of the NFL’s Super Bowls; a win would put them at about 15.6 percent.  Their only Super Bowl loss came in Super Bowl XXX to the Dallas Cowboys.

To put things into perspective for you the San Francisco 49ers are the only NFL team with more two or more Super Bowl Championships who has gone undefeated in their Super Bowl appearances.  The five time world champions havenot appeared in a Super Bowl since defeating the Chargers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX.

The Packers have been forever engrained in Super Bowl history and their name will forever be associated with the word, “champion.”  Vince Lombardi was the Green Bay coach from 1959-1968 and the champion of the first two Super Bowls.  Since then, the trophy handed to the winner of the NFL’s Championship has been named the “Vince Lombardi Trophy.”  Lombardi finished his coaching career with a record of 96-34-6.  The Packers have appeared in a total of four Super Bowls and are 3-1 in their title matches.  Their lone loss came by the hands of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII in a 31-24 loss.  The year prior to that, in Super Bowl XXXI, the Packers defeated the Patriots 35-21.  Brett Favre was the quarterback for Green Bay both seasons.

The name “Favre” is now taboo to some Green Bay natives and has resulted in more than one jersey burning.  Aaron Rodgers is in only his third year as a NFL starter and he has taken the league by storm.  With his strong, accurate arm, his mobility, and his leadership, Rodgers has already cracked the top three of some NFL experts, trailing only Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

If the Steelers are wanting to come out victorious on Sunday, they need to eat, sleep, and breathe tape on Rodgers.  The Packers Quarterback was only 78 yards shy of a 4,000 passing yards season, was second in the league among QB’s in rushing with 356 yards, was responsible for 32 touchdowns by either passing or rushing, and was third in the NFL with a passer rating of 101.2.  He is not afraid to throw the long ball either, going deep 86 times this season, which puts him at seventh in the league.

Ben Roethlisberger is searching for his third Super Bowl ring.  Every other quarterback that has reached this accomplishment is in the NFL Hall of Fame or, in the case of Tom Brady, is looked at as a future Hall of Famer.  Big Ben missed the first four seasons of this year after allegedly forcing himself up on a drunken college student.  No charges were ever formally filed in the incident and the Steelers started out the season 3-1 without the help of Roethlisberger.  While that speaks wonders to the Steelers organization, Big Ben has earned the respect of his teammates this season.  Roethlisberger holds a reputation around the league as being the toughest quarterback in the NFL, and he has earned that.  He has yet to finish a season ranked worse than fourth in the QB sacked category.  Roethlisberger lead the NFL in yards per pass attempt (8yds/att), yards per completion (12.7yds/cmp),  and was second in interception percentage at just 1.3 percent.  Big Ben threw just 5 picks this year on 389 attempts, completing 61.7 percent of his passes.

Lock for Aaron Rodgers to be the primary source of rushing for the Packers, as the Steelers are one of the leagues best run stoppers.  The recent packers phenomenon, James Starks, has yet to face a defense like the Steelers and it may take a while for him to get adjusted.

The Steelers have a “been there, done that” attitude right now down in Dallas, Texas.  Look for Roethlisberger to roll out of the pocket a lot, with the loss of Pittsburgh’s rookie sensation, Center Pouncey probably being out.  Roethlisberger usually has a cool head in these situations and seems to actually prefer these type of “broken plays.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the usual suspects will be in action for both teams.  Packers’ Clay Matthews should be able to blitz up the middle with Pouncey being out.  Troy Polamalu and James Henderson should be able to attack Green Bay’s edges pretty well.  The Steelers have doing this most of the season and have been successful at doing so.

Final score prediction: Packers 28, Steelers, 24.