9 Reasons the Steelers Will Take Down the Pack
Well, we’ve discussed what the Pack has going on. Now let’s talk about the Steelers. Is Ben an edge over Aaron? Late in the game, if things are close, probably. But the night and day discrepancy is defense. Yes, Green Bay has a hell of a defensive squad, but no team in the league plays with the brute force of the Steelers when they don’t have the ball. Green Bay is hardly a flashy team, but compared with the blue-collar ethos of Pittsburgh, they look like a Vegas cabaret. If Pittsburgh can play their game and set the tempo, they should never let Green Bay in the door.
9. Lamarr Woodley
The guy has ten sacks in his first six playoff games. With an already-stellar Steeler defense, this guy could be the tipping point that creates confusion and bedlam among the Pack’s offensive line. He took down Kurt Warner twice in his first Super Bowl appearance, so this guy knows how to step it up for the big games.
8. Ben Is a Leader
When you take the field, Roethlisberger is exactly the type of QB you want leading your team. When things get close, he gets better. He rarely gets rattled and makes bad decisions. More often than not, he’ll win you the game. His numbers aren’t gaudy, but the fact that he led his team to the Super Bowl after some, um, unpleasantness, should be a sign that this guy is focused like a laser beam with a boatload of talent. His duel with Rodgers should meet the high expectations that have been set.
7. Pack Is Hurting At OLB
Yeah, they’ve got Matthews, but unfortunately, Matthews can’t play all 11 defensive positions, so they’ve gotta turn to some other players. The Pack is doing well in depth, except at OLB, both Zombo and Walden are coming off of injuries. Zombo’s cost him 6 weeks on the DL, while Walden’s was just last week. While the Pack’s strong defense may be able to compensate for the weakness there, it’s not something McCarthy wants to consider walking into the Super Bowl.
6. Tomlin. Tomlin. Tomlin.
Mike Tomlin could very well be the Tiger Woods of NFL coaching. I don’t mean that in an Ambien-sex way, either. Tomlin has done more with his entrée into the league than any other coach has, scoring two Super Bowl slots in his first four years. I can’t make manager of Subway in four years. Tomlin and Ben have something in common that has led to their success. Neither individual has any desire to “win pretty.” He’s built a team largely devoid of finesse, but full of heart and talent. The anti-Terrell Owens of the league. Historically, they start strong and stay ahead. With all the momentum and spectacle on Sunday, that head start could be the difference.
5. Steelers Can Own the Clock
If you’re going to win ugly, you’ll want to make sure that you control the clock for almost all of the game. And Pittsburgh has shown that they are capable of doing this. Their running game with Rashard is a help, but once again, Ben and his O-line will be the linchpin to this strategy. It doesn’t matter if they move quickly or slowly, so long as the team in black just keeps moving. Inch by inch.
4. Steelers Passing Game Can Take the Pack’s Secondary
Once again, Ben is a focal point here. Starting to see a pattern? If the O-line can hold, Ben wears his game face, and Hines Ward and the rest of the receiving corps can play the way they have been, they might not be able to neutralize the standout D-backs for Green Bay, but they should be able to work around them. Which is about as good as it’s going to get when you’re dealing with Woodson and Tramon Williams.
3. Rashard Mendenhall Doesn’t Quit
He’s not putting up the most awe-inspiring numbers, but that’s never what the Steelers ground game has been about. He can run and run and run, not unlike Jerome Bettis over a decade ago. And as long as Mendenhall keeps running, the Pack will have to play off the passing game more than they would like to. There’s no big secret to the balanced attack, but unfortunately, there’s no big secret to stopping Rashard, either. He is going to run, probably get his 100 yards. What are you going to do about it? If you play up, they’ll go deeper, if you play the pass, he’ll pick up 160. Green Bay will need some standout performances from their linebackers to stay competitive.
2. The D
Even if Polamalu isn’t 100%, there’s still great cause for concern if you’re Aaron Rodgers and the Pack. As bruising as Pittsburgh is on offense, they’re many times more punishing on D. They only allow 3 yards per rush, so orchestrating a balanced attack isn’t as easy as splitting passing and rushing 50/50. Rodgers will need to establish a down-field threat early if they want any breathing room on the run. If that doesn’t happen, it could be a long, sore day for the Cheeseheads.
1. Seriously, the D
The Steelers D is healthy in ways that Green Bay’s isn’t. The Steelers version of the 3-4 is much more austere than the Pack’s, and with good reason. They don’t sub out their players, they’re all healthy, and they’re all really, really good at what they do. The Steelers rarely favor the run or the pass, at least they appear not to, so finding out tendencies and exploiting them will have to come more from trial-and-error on the Pack side more than it was ingenious coaching. Does that mean it can’t be done? Of course not. But the Steelers will make it very hard.