Well, it’s almost here. Finally! Two weeks after the Championship games we are just 27 hours or so away from the biggest game and grandest event in all of American professional sports. This year Super Bowl XLIII features the hot young guns out of Glendale, the Arizona Cardinals, against arguably the most storied franchise in NFL history, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Much has been made about the great Steeler defense going up against high octane Cardinal offense, but to avoid rehashing so many of the same things you can read on any sporting page, let me look at this game from a different perspective, one that also happens to be my perspective. This game will be won or lost by one player, Ben Roethlisberger. We’ve heard for an exhausting two weeks now about how poorly he performed in Super Bowl XL, when the Steeler Nation got their “one for the thumb” against the Seattle Seahawks. Ben readily admits he didn’t do much to help the team win that Super Bowl and he has to realize this one key thing, in my opinion, to help them get this one: not try to be a hero.
Big Ben can’t let all the questions and hype get to him. He has to play his game, which will allow him to throw the ball much more, and better, than he did three years ago, but he can not go onto the field with the idea of trying to be the Super Bowl MVP and “prove the world wrong” or “prove that he is capable.” He has to go out and play his game, and if he does, limiting turnovers and being as consistent as he’s been the past few months, the Steelers will win.
Going back to the theme of this very blog, defense wins championships, and the only way the Arizona defense will win a championship tomorrow is if it is given to them by the Steelers. Taking nothing away from the Cardinal team that I actually like a whole lot, a 9-7 team in the regular season that just happens to get hot at the right time and catches a few breaks isn’t going to be crowned the league’s greatest team unless they catch a few more big breaks. Being fortunate enough to be 9-7 and get a first round home game against an equally “hot and fresh” Atlanta team, and then get a 9-6-1 team at home in the NFC Championship game is absurd. The lone impressive win this postseason was against the Carolina Panthers, in which the Cards romped to victory thanks to Jake Delhomme’s absolutely atrocious game. If Big Ben can avoid making the same mental breakdowns, the Steelers win.
Now I’m not saying it will be a blowout, or that the Cardinals are awful and don’t deserve to be here, because they do, but good fortune is a part of the game and big part of this team’s run into the playoffs (not to mention if they were in almost any other conference other than the NFC west they probably aren’t even in the playoffs). That said, I expect them to come out fighting, using the underdog chip on their shoulders combined with some knowledge of the Steelers team thanks to Coaches Whisenhunt and Grimm, but defense wins championships. If I was forced to I’d place my bet on the best defense the NFL has seen in 30 years and take my chances. I like the black and gold in this one 28-17.
My apologies to Les Miles.