|Super Bowl XL: Steelers vs. Seahawks|
By Chris Pokorny, PFCritics Writer February 4, 2006
It's finally here. The best in the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers, will collide with the best in the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks. Both teams have been so dominating in the playoffs that it's almost too tough to predict who will come out victorious. The Steelers have pretty much rolled over the Bengals, Colts, and Broncos while the Seahawks have done the same over the Redskins and the Panthers. Jerome Bettis will be coming home to Detroit in what could be the final game of his career. When you wake up Sunday, all you'll be able to think about it football. All of the hype, the anticipation, and the action will definitely live up to its expectations.
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Super Bowl XL
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, February 5th, 2006
Kickoff: 6:30pm EST on ABC
|Super Bowl XL - Team Stats
Pittsburgh Steelers - #5
#1 - Seattle Seahawks
||Overall Record: 11-5
Road Record: 6-2
Offense: 15th overall
(5th rush, 24th pass)
Defense: 4th overall
(3rd rush, 16th pass)
||Overall Record: 13-3
Home Record: 8-0
Offense: 5th overall
(2nd rush, 18th pass)
Defense: 15th overall
(2nd rush, 29th pass)
Roethlisberger: It's been a wild season for the young
Roethlisberger, including a dramatic turnaround when everyone thought
the Steelers would only be first-round exit at best. Heading into the
season, a lot of people, including myself, predicted that Big Ben would
suffer a sophomore slump. If you take out his injury earlier in the
year, the season was anything but a slump. Despite not having a 15-1
record, Roethlisberger is leaps and bounds better than he was last year.
It has really showed in the playoffs, and it's pretty simple how you can
tell: He beat the 1st, 3rd, and 2nd seeds in that respective order on
the road. As good as the Steelers defense has been, if someone like
Tommy Maddox was leading the Steelers, they probably would have been
Hasselbeck: The Seahawks have always been considered an underrated
team in the eyes of many, but not mine. The past few years, I knew that
Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander had the potential to take over a
game, but unfortunately Hasselbeck always had to watch his receivers
drop seven passes per game. Seattle started the season average at best,
and then went on a surge. Hasselbeck was a major part of that, simply
because you can't point out a game that Seattle even came close to
losing solely due to him. In the playoffs, he showed a lot of poise
after the league's MVP left the game in the first quarter. In the NFC
Championship, he absolutely cruised by one of the best defenses in the
league. After two straight seasons with crushing playoff losses,
Hasselbeck is more determined than ever to win it all.
If there are fans that are "non-biased" towards either team, Bettis
gives the Steelers a huge advantage purely based on the fact that he is
"coming home." The crowd will erupt when Bettis scores his first
touchdown, assuming he gets in.
Willie Parker: So many people are focused on Bettis, but you can't
forget about the energetic Parker. Although Parker has speed, he only
"really" effective against defenses that are average at best. However,
the power that the offensive line has allows for Parker to get what he
needs to get whenever the Steelers want to run the clock down.
Alexander: Alexander was not the MVP of the league just because he
was able to pile on touchdowns, even when a game was out of reach.
Alexander has run hard for the Seahawks for several years now, it's just
now that some people are actually seeing it. He has an outstanding
offensive line in front of him, including Chad Hutchinson and Walter
Jones. When it comes down to a 3rd-and-1 situation, Alexander is
automatic when he gets the ball.
Maurice Morris: Morris is an ok compliment to Alexander, but he
likely will not be a factor assuming Alexander stays healthy. Holmgren
will give Alexander as many touches as he can.
It is rare that Ward is ever off of his game. There were times during
the season that Ward only saw one or two catches per game, but
Pittsburgh knows who to go to in clutch situations.
Cedrick Wilson: Wilson has been a nice compliment to Ward and Randle
El and often makes the "big" play.
Antwaan Randle El: If the Steelers have a trick in their playbook,
chances are that it'll involve Randle El.
Heath Miller: The addition of a tight end to the Steelers offense
has really helped out Roethisberger. When Miller gets his chances, he
Jackson: Jackson never really was one of the guys that dropped
passes, and has come through with a very productive postseason after
missing several games during the season.
Bobby Engram: Engram's playing time has gone down somewhat since
Jackson returned, but he led the Seahawks in receiving during the
Joe Jurevicius: He is the man that Hasselbeck looks for near the end
zone rather than a yards-after-catch person, aka a possession receiver.
Jerramy Stevens: Not too many people may knew of Stevens before his
"trash" talk, but he is an underrated tight end.
There were times during the season when the Steelers defense didn't have
it together, but that certainly is not the case at the moment. The
"blitzburgh" defense implemented by Dick LeBeau has worked to perfection
in stopping the Bengals offense (even though they lost Palmer), Peyton
Manning and the Colts, and Jake Plummer and the Broncos. They forced all
of those great teams to be off balanced and make mistakes. I know the
Steelers have a lot of playmakers, but Troy Polamula is the one that
always comes to mind. He is all over the field and it seems like anytime
there is a turnover, either him or Joey Porter are involved.
There's no doubting that the Seahawks defense has been outstanding in
their two playoff victories, but they weren't facing the best offenses
like the Steelers did. The Redskins were coming off a performance that
was awful, and the Panthers knew that their only "true" weapon was Steve
Smith. You can't solely focus on the postseason though, because this
defense has handled themselves fine throughout the entire season, led by
linebacker Lofa Tatupu. The Seahawks do a solid job at defending both
the run and the pass and are usually on their game as soon as the
El: This is an area that the Seahawks will have to look out for.
Steve Smith scored on them last week, and Randle El has had several
great returns this year.
Jeff Reed: It's not like you can predict how Reed can handle the
Super Bowl pressure, but he hasn't had any issues of "choking" during
Josh Brown: Similar to Reed,
it's not like Brown has Super Bowl experience. Earlier this year he did
fail to come through against the Washington Redskins, but he has been
fine throughout the postseason.
been the leader of the Steelers throughout the postseason. When you look
back at all of the big plays that he has come up with so far, you could
definitely say that Pittsburgh would not have made it this far without
him. Some people are calling it "destiny" that the Steelers have made it
this far, particularly related to Jerome Bettis. Before the season
started, Bettis considered retirement but decided to come back based on
one condition: he wanted a Super Bowl.
Now of course, every single player envisions that same goal, but at
Bettis' age, he wouldn't have continued if he truly felt the Steelers
had no shot at making it. Zoom forward to the postseason, when Bettis
was about to seal the deal for the Steelers and suddenly fumbled and
watched Nick Harper take the ball down the sideline. Who saved him?
Roethlisberger. A few weeks later, and Bettis is heading to his hometown
of Detroit, where he will surely have a "home-field advantage."
The Steelers aren't a one-dimensional football team. If you've watched
the Steelers in the playoffs so far, it doesn't take a genius to know
which gameplan has been successful: pass the first half, run the second
half. Despite the fact that teams may know the Steelers will do this,
the threat of the other dimension is always there. If the Seahawks
expect pass too much, the Steelers can hand off to the speedy Parker for
a gain of ten. If they bunch up the line too much, Roethlisberger can
shed a blitzer and throw it to someone deep.
The Steelers defense simply makes plays. Although they do have the
blitzburgh style back, it's not the only thing they do. They adjust
accordingly. Against the Colts, they came with everybody any time he
snapped the ball. With the Broncos, they did not blitz nearly as often
and were able to make Plummer look like he had returned back to his
withstood so much heartbreak on the field the past two years. It wasn't
just due to the fact that the team played bad in general, but the fact
that he had the ball in his hand as the game was coming to a close. He
knew he could win it. So what happened? Let's take you back.
1. Two years ago vs. Green Bay
The game went on to overtime and the Seahawks won the toss. Over the
entire stadium at Green Bay, he exclaimed "We want the ball and we're
going to score!" A few minutes later, a score happened indeed.
Unfortunately, Hasselbeck threw it right into the hands of Al Harris for
a touchdown going the other way.
2. Last year vs. St. Louis Rams
The Seahawks were already 0-2 during the season against St. Louis,
and the game was about to end with Seattle down by a touchdown.
Hasselbeck was a few yards away from the end zone on 4th down and took
the snap. He looked like he was about to panic, then maybe run it
himself, and then underhanded it to an open Bobby Engram in the end
zone. Engram dropped it; game over.
What's changed this year? Some may say that it's the focus that Mike
Holmgren is able to have on communicating with Hasselbeck now that he
truly is a "coach" only. However, he has one heck of a supporting cast.
Shaun Alexander is an MVP because of pure talent, the offensive line,
and the threat of his QB.
It's tough to say whether or not Seattle's defense will be able to stop
Pittsburgh, because no one has been able to do it lately. If the
Steelers get down near the goal line, they will definitely bring Bettis
into the game. If the Seahawks are able to stop him from getting into
the end zone, it will pump that defense up like you wouldn't believe.
|Super Bowl XL Prediction
Winner - Seattle Seahawks
|I can see it
already: most of the Steelers fans that read this will now believe I
don't know what the heck I'm talking about, and most of
Seahawks fans will agree with my pick. I'd like to make this clear
though: I'm not a "homer" for the Steelers, and I'm not a "homer" for
the Seahawks. On the same note, this is not a decisive decision either.
In my opinion, anyone that stakes a lot of money towards this game is
taking a big risk, because both teams have been so dominant in the
playoffs that you don't know what to expect. The Steelers owned the AFC
teams in three road trips, while the Seahawks owned the NFC in two home
games. The Steelers will have a lot of support from Jerome Bettis fans,
but the Seahawks will not feel as if they are a road team either. Bettis
will get his glory during the game and it will be close throughout, but
Shaun Alexander will punch it in with five seconds left to break the
Seattle Seahawks 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 17.
Game MVP: Shaun Alexander - 2 rushing touchdowns, 125 yards