Bears safety Harris says experience will be key to Steelers’ victory
by Chris Harris Special to the Sun-Times February 5, 2011 1:18AM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
It doesn’t surprise me that these teams are playing for the Super Bowl.
This is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ third time in six years, and they’ve already won the first two. I don’t think Ben Roethlisberger gets the respect he deserves, playing for his third. He’s not pretty with what he does, but he’s efficient and effective. I’ll take effective and efficient over pretty every day.
The Green Bay Packers get a lot of praise because of that offense and Aaron Rodgers — and rightfully so. Rodgers controls that ship, and he’s doing a tremendous job. What makes him unique is the way he gets the ball out and how quickly he reads defenses.
But the defense is a huge reason why they are in this game. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers has done a tremendous job of game-planning and scheming other teams. The defense is a huge reason they are where they are.
Here are my three keys to the game:
1 For the Packers, they’re going to have to be able to run the ball effectively. I’m not saying gain 100 yards, but they can’t just have Rodgers drop back all day long. Because if they do, it spells trouble for those offensive tackles.
If the Packers can run the ball effectively, the Steelers are susceptible to the play-action pass because their linebackers are so aggressive. If they can’t, then the Steelers’ defense will attack, with Troy Polamalu leading the way.
The Steelers create turnovers, tying us for third in the NFL with 35. To me, what makes their defense so good is they’re a good tackling defense. They do a tremendous job of getting to the ball and gang-tackling.
2 For the Steelers’ offense, they have to be able to run the ball, too. They’ve been averaging 120.3 yards on the year. They’re going to give the Packers a heavy dose of Rashard Mendenhall (below, left) and not put the pressure on Ben to sit back and throw the ball 40 times.
They have to be able to run the ball and set up third-and-short because if Green Bay gets you into third-and-long, it could be a long day for you.
3 A key matchup is the Steelers’ Doug Legursky against the Packers’ B.J. Raji. With Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey out, Legursky will have to be the leader on that line, calling out protections.
That’s a huge loss for the Steelers. Raji is a very, very good player. He’s physical, and he’s got good speed off the ball. He can cause lots of trouble. We see what kind of athleticism he has; he had a pick-six against us.
I don’t know enough about Legursky. But any time you’re playing with a backup, especially at the center position, that can be very difficult to overcome.
This is going to be a very close game, and I’m excited to see how Green Bay’s offense is going to attack the Steelers’ defense. I think this is going to be a classic. I see this game ending with a Steelers victory, 24-21.
I feel like experience is going to come into play. The Steelers have 25 guys who have played in the Super Bowl, and the Packers have two. The Packers may have bigger names, but it’s not about individuals, it’s about a team, and I feel the Steelers play better as a team.
As told to Sean Jensen