Steelers vs. Cardinals ** Super Bowl XLIII ** W 27-23
The Super Bowl, there are several teams who have not had the opportunity to play in the big game and there are some big name players who never even had a chance to play in the game. For the Arizona Cardinals this is their first trip to the big game since the AFL-NFL merger. On the other hand though, the Pittsburgh Steelers are making their second trip in three years, returning 20 players from that team, and seventh trip overall with the chance to put together what some are calling a six-pack!
There are tons of story lines for this game. Big Ben and Kurt Warner are both out to forget their own personal performances in their previous Super Bowls. Even though Big Ben came away with a win, he set a record for having the lowest passer rating for a winning QB. Kurt Warner has been absent from the Super Bowl for the past 9 years and looks to win the game while leading a completely different team than last time. Then there is the coaches and assistants with ties to Pittsburgh and even players who have previously played for the Steelers who now where red and black. One can even take this a step further and go to the Steelers front office where they will find former Steeler great "Mean" Joe Green which spent many years in Arizona as a coach, but is now back with the Steelers. The list just goes on and on, but the story lines mean absolutely nothing about the game. When it comes down to it the players needs to strap on their chin straps and go out there and play the game.
A lot of speculation has been swirling the past week wondering if Cardinal Head Coach, Ken Whisenhunt, can get into the head of Big Ben as he supposedly did back in the regular season of 2007? The answer is simple, "No!" That game was more than 2 years ago, and almost 30 games have been played by each team. Both coaches were new to their respective teams and both teams had significant injuries at the time.
Other speculations going on revolves around the age of Steelers Head Coach, Mike Tomlin. Can he get the job done? Let me remind you, he was the defense backs coach for the Tampa bay Buccaneers that completely dominated the Raiders back a few Super Bowls ago. So Tomlin has the experience, he's been there and done it already. Besides, have you ever soon a coach that is more down to earth and one bad *** dude as Tomlin? The dude is a rock star and I don't think he even sweats!
The Arizona Cardinals have a potent offense. They have Kurt Warner who can deliver the ball under pressure, Larry Fitzgerald who is just a freak of nature, Anquan Boldin who draws attention, Edgerrin James who has been coming on strong and Steve Breaston who's a speedy receiver that was third on the team for receiving yards with 1006 yards. On paper this offense looks unstoppable with weapons at practically every position. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they didn't play a defense quite like the Pittsburgh Steelers. They haven't seen the zone blitz package Dick Lebeau has put together just for this game. Lebeau is a mastermind when it comes to scheming for a team, especially when he has two weeks to prepare. Just go back and take a look at what the Steelers defense has done after a bye week to their opponent, it's scary amazing!
The Steelers defense has the Defensive Player of the Year, the second leading interceptor for the league, the number one overall defense, number one against the pass, number two against the run and number two with total sacks. That is total domination and they showed up every single week ready to play, and they had to with the toughest schedule in the league and the team was only expected to finish 8-8 on the year. If their were are still any doubters out there now, the Steelers have one more game to prove them wrong. This defense comes at you from every direction, and if their opponent gets the ball out in the open or across the middle they better have their head on a swivel because someone is locked and loaded on the Steelers side to make a big play, like Ryan Clark!
Big Ben and his receivers are going to be the "X" factors for this game, with Ben making up 75% of the "X". Ward has a sprained knee, Washington has been quiet, Holmes has come up huge especially in the past two playoff games and Sweed showed he has a bad case of the droppsies. There are two receivers though that need to come up huge, Washington and Sweed. Washington has been relatively quiet which would make you think he's due for a big game and Sweed looked horrible against the ravens expect for two plays where he laid a guy out to spring Miller free and caught a big third down conversion. Every Steeler fan though is going to remember that touchdown pass he dropped! This is the one game where Sweed can do something huge to redeem himself!
Heath Miller is one of those forgotten hero's too. Just as I have forgot about him until now is really how his season has gone for him. Just when you start to forget about him he sneaks up on you for a big play, so Miller could be one of those guys too that make up part of the "X".
The Cardinals defense was really mediocre during the regular season, but has looked impressive at times during their playoff journey to the Super Bowl. They will definitely have their hands full trying to keep Ben in the pocket and trying to contain the Super bowl record holder for the longest touchdown run, Willie Parker. The Cardinals are good at causing chaos in the secondary and lead the league with interceptions. Was that from QB's making bad decisions or is their secondary that good? We will all soon find out!
This is it... this is for bragging rights, the hardware, and the trip to Disney World! The keys for the Steelers to bring home their sixth Super Bowl trophy are quite simple:
- No Turnovers. It would be best for the D to force the turnovers and have the offense capitalize on them.
- Contain Fitzgerald and Boldin, and knock Warner down a few times.
- Play Steelers Football as they have done all season long, and don't stray from what got them to the big game!
Join us this Sunday evening in the gameday thread as we talk about the game and cheer the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory!!!! :tt02: