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Why The Steelers Will Win...AnalysisWhy the Steelers will win...analysis
AP Sports Columnist
TAMPA, Fla. — Even Rod Blagojevich would have a tough time explaining away what’s going to happen to the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII today.
One reason even smart people believe the old saying about defense winning championships is because it’s always been easier to break something than build it. And that’s never been more true about the NFL than during this decade. It began with the ravenous Baltimore defense orchestrated by maestro Ray Lewis in 2000 and segued almost seamlessly to the ferocious New York Giant front four anchored by Michael Strahan.
The only team that successfully bucked that trend was the 2006 Indianapolis Colts. And while Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner was at the controls of the last team to turn the trick before that, the 1999 St. Louis Rams, he’s not Peyton Manning nor as young as he used to be. By the time the Steelers get through pummeling Warner, he’ll be happy to feel his age.
Pittsburgh’s defense was ranked No. 1 overall, allowing the fewest points, total yards and passing yards. So while Larry Fitzgerald may be enjoying one of the finest playoff runs of any receiver in NFL history and almost impossible to cover one-on-one, there isn’t a QB alive who can consistently complete passes lying on his back.
It’s true the Steelers slipped to No. 2 against the run, but don’t expect the Cardinals to exploit that little sliver of daylight, either. They finished dead last in rushing during the regular season. Plus, dominating as those numbers look, what they don’t reveal is how hard Pittsburgh’s defenders hit people.
They KO’d three Baltimore Ravens, widely considered the second-nastiest team in pro football, in the AFC title game, beginning with the opening kickoff. The reason the NFL’s “greatest-hits” highlight reels could be mistaken for Steelers game film begins with guys like Jack Lambert and Joe Greene and continues today with James Farrior and Troy Polamalu.
Small wonder, then, that shortly after the Steelers drafted corner William Gay of Louisville last year, he answered his phone only to hear his uncle scream, “You got to start hitting now!”
Pittsburgh has been called “a drinking town with a football problem,” so it’s no coincidence it boasts a Super Bowl tradition second to none. The Steelers have brought the Lombardi Trophy back home five times, the last time in 2006 — tying them with the Cowboys and *****. And as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said earlier this week, fans who have taken to yelling “Six-Pack” at him aren’t simply ordering the local brew.
They want — make that demand — another title.
Contrast that with the Cards, whose laid-back fans haven’t seen a title in 61 years and didn’t expect to anytime soon. They aren’t just happy to be here, but downright surprised.
That isn’t an option for the Steelers. As if expectations weren’t sky-high already, President Obama jumped on the bandwagon and Mike Fincke, who grew up near Pittsburgh and is commander of the NASA expedition en route to the international space station, recently took advantage of the gravity-free atmosphere to unfurl his Terrible Towel.
If Fincke can only break away from his duties for a few minutes, we’d recommend tuning in for the third-quarter. If the game isn’t over by halftime, it will be soon.
The blueprint for the Cardinals’ offense during the regular season was to start slow and gradually pick up steam. They were the league’s deadliest unit in the third quarter. One big reason for their playoff success, however, is starting games hot instead of finishing that way.
But if Arizona doesn’t load up on points early versus the Steelers, pickings will be slimmer the longer the game goes on.
Re: Why The Steelers Will Win...Analysis
Basically everybody has said it, and I disagree entirely. Though the notion and concept behind the thought are good.
Most people seem to be saying something along the line of "If the game goes over 21 points (or 24, or 28 or whatever number the person says,) than the Cardinals will win."
I see where they are getting this from. Basically, If the Steelers defense isn't preventing scoring, in all sense they believe that Arizona's Offense can out-produce the Steelers Offense. This may be because of the tempo they set, or just because of points scored this year. Whatever the case, it is a valid idea, and could very well be true.
I however, believe that if the score goes to...ANYTHING, the Steelers win. If it is a low scoring game, than Arizona isn't fulfilling the game plan, and they aren't finding the end-zone. If the score starts to run up, I actually believe that the Steelers would become even more impressive. When the Steelers offense opens up, and starts to move down the field with it's passing game and running game, they are amazingly unstoppable. How many game winning drives have we seen this year in the fourth quarter? Implement that offense all game long, by passing ten to fifteen yards down field every other play, and working Parker on the inside and outside, and the offense gets downfield very quickly, and most effectively.
To all plans and thoughts, there is never mentioned an "X" factor. Just the expectation and explanation. Well, I have the "X" factor for you my friends.
From what I have written, you can conclude that I believe the Steelers offense is actually better than that of the Arizona Cardinals. I believe that in every aspect of the game. Especially now that Ben was holding in the pocket and slipping defenders two weeks ago against the Ravens.
X-Factor in the high scoring game : Turnovers. If this game starts to go back and forth, and the scores run up, turnovers are going to be a factor. And simply put, they will be turnovers committed by the Cardinals. The Steelers will take that ball away, and put it right back into Ben's hands. Following such, the running game will bash the clock away until there is no time left for the Cardinals. Either you play slow, and they beat you by a little, or you try to play fast, and the score just starts rolling. Ask Baltimore how going fast works. Play slow, and lose around 17-7, play fast, and Arizona might see a score more relative to 34-14. Either way, they will lose, it's just about how graceful they want to go down in flames.
Re: Why The Steelers Will Win...Analysis
I disagree with this logic. Winning football games can't be simplified to the point where you say the one team has a good defense and the other one has a good offense. The Eagles defense was ranked 3rd in the NFL in the regular season, and Arizona hung 32 points on them. This is partly because Warner has had better success than anyone else against the blitz this year. The Steelers love to blitz.
I also don't think the statistical evidence supports the idea that "when the Steelers offense opens up, and starts to move down the field with it's passing game and running game, they are amazingly unstoppable". In order to get the record they did, they had to squeak out wins with 10 points against Cleveland, 11 against San Diego, 13 against Baltimore...They were the 22nd ranked offense in the league, and Big Ben was the 2nd most sacked quarterback in the league. That's not exactly unstoppable.
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