Super Bowls have kind of become a habit for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Make no mistake though, this year’s game has just as much current storyline as it has history surrounding it.
To understand what makes this year’s championship unique from the Steelers perspective it’s important to look at the team’s past Super Bowl appearances. Pittsburgh has more Super Bowl wins than any other team with six, and has a total of eight appearances including this year.
The Steelers are a team steeped in tradition and consistency. Since the NFL merged with the AFL in 1970 Pittsburgh has only had three head coaches: Chuck Nolan, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin.
Tomlin’s Steelers fit the team’s smash-mouth mold perfectly. Pittsburgh’s win over the Cardinals in Super Bowl 43 had all the grit of Mean Joe Green with Franco Harris’esque last-second excitement. A look at the championship squad from 2009 provides a clearer picture of what to expect from Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay.
The Steelers finished the 2008 season with a 12-4 record and the second seed in the AFC playoffs. They still had several members of their Super Bowl squad from 2006, and a mix of strong young talent. Pittsburgh led the league in total defense during the regular season, and saw four players chosen to the Pro Bowl
Pittsburgh finished the 2010 season with a 12-4 record and the second seed in the AFC playoffs. They still have several members of their Super Bowl squad from 2008, and a mix of strong talent. Pittsburgh led the league in total defense during the regular season, and saw four players chosen to the Pro Bowl. Sound familiar?
As noted earlier the Steelers are a very consistent franchise. Actual change is something that takes years for this organization. When a key player retires or leaves the organization instead of reinventing the position they usually plug in another guy that fits a certain prototype. Keeping it simple seems to work. This year’s game ties Pittsburgh with Dallas for most Super Bowl appearances.
Pittsburgh won’t be fancy and come out looking like a different team in this game. The team and game plan for this week shouldn’t look too different from Super Bowl 43. The major difference is that the Steelers are in their prime. 2008’s appearance was a first for Coach Mike Tomlin. The leaders of the team from that year are mostly the same, but just older.
The Steelers are aging quick; especially on defense. They don’t need to press the panic button yet. However, Pittsburgh will need to get more production from its younger players soon if its want to continue to remain relevant in future seasons. That being said, age benefits the Steelers going into this week’s game. It can be debated whether Super Bowl experience is a positive or negative, but the Steelers have a core group of leadership that have been around the block more than once. With a seventh year quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger at helm on offense, and Troy Polamalu and James Harrison anchoring the defense the Steelers are going to play Pittsburgh football.
One position full of youth for the Steelers that bares a strong resemblance to 2008’s squad is wide receiver. Santonio Holmes and Nate Washington both had standout season’s for Pittsburgh that year, and left for bigger contracts with the Jets and Titans after the Super Bowl. Mike Wallace had a huge regular season and Emmanuel Sanders has been emerging as a legitimate threat lately. Many believe that Wallace will be the player turned too if the Steelers offense needs Santonio Holmes-like heroics late in the game. Other noticeable roster changes from 2008 include a change at kicker from Jeff Reed to Jeremy Kapinos, and the presence of Doug Legursky due to the injury of Maurkice Pouncey.
Green Bay is very similar to the Arizona Cardinals of 2008 in some regards. Hunger is a word synonymous with both groups. The Packers have had more success over the years than the Cardinals, but there is still a need to go further. Green Bay’s last trip to the Super Bowl was in 1998. The Steelers will once again face a team that is looking to prove themselves.
In terms of player personnel commonalities are a little harder to find. Both the Cardinals and the Packers defense focused around the 3-4 scheme. However, the style in which the Packers use that scheme varies a little from the Cardinals. On offense, both teams featured a dynamic group of veteran receivers.
One of the key storylines from Super Bowl 43 was Ken Whisenhunt’s attempt to take down his former team. The former Steelers offensive coordinator took the head job with Cardinals after Cowher retired in 2006. As a result there were several resemblances on the field between the Steelers and Cardinals.
This year’s game is all about the historic two franchises. There are several off-field issues surrounding the game, but the big story is the matchup itself. Pittsburgh is aiming to avoid all the pregame talk as an organization and just wants to prove that they’re the best on the field.
This year the media has had to dig deeper than normal to find controversial topics surrounding the game. The Packers had a minor skirmish over team photos earlier this week, but for the most part there is more focus on the actual game than gossip and smash talk.
There’s no clear cut favorite going into this year’s game. In 2008 the Steelers were picked as seven point favorites over the Cardinals. This year the odds makers have Pittsburgh as underdogs, which is where they love to be.
One popular source, that’s usually accurate at predicting the Super Bowl winners, has the Steelers coming out on top. EA Sports’ Madden video game series has correctly predicted the winner of six of the last seven Super Bowls through simulations; including the Steelers’ win over Arizona. This year’s prediction: Pittsburgh 24 – Green Bay 20.
How accurate that prediction will be is yet to be determined, but there is one interesting prediction the simulation made. The Madden simulation was a decided by a Steeler interception with :24 seconds left to play; similar to the late game heroics by Santonio Holmes versus the Cardinals.
About the Author
Written by John Weidner
My name is John Weidner, and I am a Communications major at the University of North Florida. I have always had a talent for writing and communicating ideas in unique ways to others. Right now, I am learning more about how to cover and discuss different topics and ideas in the world of journalism. I consider myself a sports journalist but also am interested in covering anything that is newsworthy. I have been gaining experience as a journalist since I first joined the staff of my high school newspaper in tenth grade. I have written for numerous publications including: The Florida Times-Union, The Falcon Flyer, The UNF Spinnaker, La Plaza Magazine ,Jacksonville.com and The Ponte Vedra Recorder. I am also working on gaining other non-traditional forms of experience through different ways and am open to any opportunity that can be used as a learning experience.