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Road to Dallas: No substitute for experience

One of the talking points every year during the 2 week epic, mind blowing, hype leading up the Super Bowl is, who has more experience and how much does it really help. Analysts break it down on their shows, fans talk about it on message boards and by the water cooler at work. Does the team with the experience edge really have an advantage?  I think there is something to be said for it personally, although I wouldn’t say it’s a deciding factor necessarily.

The Steelers defense is filled with recent Super Bowl  experience. James Farrior, James Harrison, Lamarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, virtually the entire defense with the exception of starting Defensive End Ziggy Hood. These guys have been there done that, and many of them were there for Super Bowl XL as well. They know how to handle tight situations with the championship on the line. They can deal with the media onslaught and not get caught up in the hype of the arguably the biggest game in all of sports each year. Look back at Super Bowl XLIII; Cardinals Quarterback Kurt Warner still has time left after Santonio Holmes’ amazing Touchdown reception and they need to make a play. With the Lombardi Trophy on the line, the defense elevated themselves to the occasion and Linebacker Lamarr Woodley got to Kurt Warner to seal the win. Experience like that does give you a distinct advantage with precious few seconds left to make the play or go home empty handed.

On the offensive side of the ball, there are still many players who know what it takes to win a Super Bowl.  Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Heath Miller, Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu, Antwaan Randel EL stand out in our minds. Their accomplishments are well documented in recent Super Bowl history as we all know. From Ben’s epic drive to win XLIII, to Randel El’s touchdown pass to Hines Ward in XL. These guys are fully aware of the importance of keeping their composure in pressure situations.

Where the interesting part comes in is with the young players who are entering their first championship experience. Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Maurkice Pouncey, and veteran Tackle Flozell Adams come to mind. We can probably assume that The Hotel will handle himself just fine, he’s been around long enough to know what he needs to do, after so many years with the Cowboys. With the young Wide Receivers though, they will have to rely on the experience of future Hall of Famer Hines Ward, and veteran team mate Randle El on how to handle the pressure on the field. Their experience this year and especially in the playoffs will serve them well, but even the most level headed young superstars can be taken in by the awe of the Super Bowl. A big play from any one of the young Steeler receivers could mean the difference in what many say will most likely be a tight game heading into the 4th quarter. Even if it’s not close, both offenses have the ability to score quickly to help get back in contention. All 3 have proven their worth time and time again in pressure situations in 2010, including the post season. If their performances against the Ravens and Jets these last few weeks is any indication, then we can feel pretty confident they’ll be able to respond.

Obviously having all this experience to lean on doesn’t guarantee you anything,  and it’s been well documented that young, hungry, teams step up in big games and can pull off the win.  Last year, Drew Brees and Saints took it to Peyton Manning to get their first championship. Two years before that Eli Manning and his Giants downed the experienced Tom Brady and company, 17-14.  The big difference this year for this Steelers team is not just the experience factor, but the way they’ve been winning all year. Being well battle tested gives you just as much of an edge if not more than any other factor.

BlitzburghRockCity – SteelerAddicts

Photo’s courtesy of NFL.com

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