The Pittsburgh Steelers, the Green Bay Packers and the Super Bowl. It all fits together, making this one of the classic match-ups or perhaps the ultimate Super Bowl. Everything is perfect — except the weather.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, the Green Bay Packers and the Super Bowl.
It all fits together, making this one of the classic match-ups or perhaps the ultimate Super Bowl.
Everything is perfect — except the weather.
A frigid, snowy week in the Dallas-Forth Worth area will be capped off tonight with one of the more highly-anticipated Super Bowls of all-time.
"This means everything," said Packers wide receiver. "When you get the opportunity to play this game, you have to embrace it. There are a lot of people that never get this opportunity to play on this level and you can't let this opportunity slip away."
Pittsburgh (14-4) is playing in the Super Bowl for the 8th time and seeking its seventh title in franchise history. Green Bay (13-6), trying to win its third championship, also is looking to become the second No. 6 seed to capture the title.
The Steelers, the only other team to win a Super Bowl as a sixth-seed in 2006, got here with defense — as usual. No team allowed fewer points this season than Pittsburgh.
"We play defense the way it's supposed to be play," said Steelers linebacker James Harrison. "It's 100 miles an hour. Hit everything you see and everything else takes care of itself."
Green Bay allowed the second-fewest points and are equipped with the fifth-best passing offense. Aaron Rodgers has quickly become one of the league's elite passers after sitting behind Brett Favre for three years.
"I'm blessed to throw to the guys that I get to throw to," Rodgers said.
Greg Jennings and Drive lead the Packers' receiving corps that, along with Rodgers, serves as the engine for one of the league's most explosive offenses.
"The biggest thing about it is, I think they want it to be offensive," said Steelers safety Ryan Clark. "We need to make it a more physical game. We need to make the game about which team is going to out-hit the other."
While the Steelers have hard-hitters like Harrison, Clark, and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu, the Packers have their share of big-play defenders.
Runner-up to Polamalu, second-year linebacker Clay Matthews is the heart of the Packers' defense, along with 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson in a secondary that was second in the league in interceptions (24).
"It starts up front for me, that pass rush," said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "They get to the quarterback and they wreak havoc."
Of course, Roethlisberger has been known to create some havoc with his arm — and legs. Like Rodgers, the Steelers' quarterback is adept at keeping plays alive with his legs and making throws on the run.
"This is a guy who is just as tough as they come," said Woodson. "A guy who makes plays at any moment in the game, always keeps his team in the game and always keeps plays alive."
Roethlisberger already has led the Steelers to two Super Bowl titles in only seven seasons in the NFL, but started this year with a four-game suspension for violating the personal conduct policy. The Steelers' quarterback has been accused twice — but not charged in either case — of sexual assault and believes he is a changed man.
"Inner peace is a great thing when you have it," Roethlisberger said.
Roethlisberger is part of a very experienced Steelers team, compared to a Packers' team with only two players who have played in a Super Bowl before.
"For us, it's a comfort level of being here before," said Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. "At the end of the day, it doesn't give us an advantage or disadvantage, you still have to play the game.
"Some people can get overwhelmed by it, some people are comfortable with it. I think we have a lot of guys who are comfortable with it."
Despite being the lowest NFC seed and relatively inexperienced in big games, the Packers are a slight favorite.
"That's not our motivation," Ward said. "Our motivation is to win the Lombardi Trophy. We're not a flashy team."
The Steelers won the AFC North title, had a first-round bye, and hosted the conference championship game, but the Packers were only 8-6 six weeks ago and needed to win out just to make the playoffs. A blowout of the Giants and a 10-3 win over Chicago punched Green Bay's ticket to the playoffs before winning three straight road games to get to Cowboys Stadium for the Super Bowl.
"I like the resolve of this team and I like the way we've handled the past five weeks," Rodgers said. "The approach that we've taken, the focus level, and the urgency has risen to the occasion."
As for the men leading the way on the sidelines, Mike Tomlin is already the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl and is looking to become the quickest to win two and Mike McCarthy grew up in Pittsburgh rooting for the Steelers.
"Personally, it's unique for my family and I," McCarthy said. "Growing up in Pittsburgh is a big part of who I am, but I am a Green Bay Packer and we've come here to claim the Lombardi Trophy."
Tomlin, meanwhile, is only the third different Steelers' head coach since 1969 and has only improved the franchise's storied legacy.
"It's not broken, so I wasn't going to try to fix it," said Tomlin. "It's sound, it's time-tested and it's proven. I was more interested in what I needed to do to add to that legacy."