Steelers-Packers looks like an ideal matchup
They traveled different roads only to land in the spot that feels right for both of them. The Super Bowl and Pittsburgh -- the Super Bowl and Green Bay. It's a snug fit for both teams. It's certainly where their fans feel they belong. Sometimes, it's hard to argue.
And both offer more than nostalgia.
Pittsburgh -- a 24-19 winner over New York -- and Green Bay -- a 21-14 victor at Chicago -- both have franchise quarterbacks capable of making plays when the pocket collapses. But both of them have a foundation built on defense. And as much as anything, that's why they're still playing.
New York's foundation crumbled against a physical Steelers ground game. Chicago thought it had a franchise quarterback to pair with a monster defense. But the Packers' defense was just better.
So now it's Green Bay and Pittsburgh. Now it's the old guard vs. the old, old guard. The team that dominated the 1960s vs. the best team of the 1970s. And they haven't gone away -- maybe for a little bit but not for long. Green Bay won a Super Bowl in the 1990s. The Steelers have won two of the past five.
|SUPER BOWL XLV|
|Green Bay Packers
vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
|When » Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m.|
|Where » Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas|
|TV » FOX|
In other sports, they would decry the absence of the big-market team, but the NFL and its fans will celebrate this matchup -- it's precisely why the league is so popular. Green Bay, a quaint town, and its publicly traded franchise against the family-owned Steelers, whose owner is an ambassador to Ireland -- and who bucked the trend of every other owner when he recently said he was against an 18-game season.
This is a Super Bowl of franchise prowess. Pittsburgh is playing in its eighth Super Bowl, Green Bay its fifth. The Steelers have won six times; the Packers have won three. Pittsburgh, in the fading rust belt, is home of the Terrible Towel. Green Bay, in the heartland, counters with cheeseheads. And did we mention the Super Bowl trophy is named after ex-Packers coach Vince Lombardi? Sort of a historical franchise, no? Other sports need big markets represented. Football does not.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a pariah to some and a reclamation project to others. Regardless, he'll be good copy. And no matter whether he's cleaned up his act off the field, there's no denying what he's done on it. Roethlisberger, who came through when needed most against the Jets, is now in his third Super Bowl and already has won twice. That's one more Super Bowl appearance and win than Indianapolis' Peyton Manning. And he could tie New England's Tom Brady for victories. Think about that for a minute.
Across the way is Aaron Rodgers, which means another week in which Brett Favre will be a topic of discussion. But only in this way: Green Bay made the right decision when it allowed him to retire/leave/do whatever and opted for Rodgers. Now look at him. Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the game and guided the Packers to the Super Bowl.
Finally, there's defense. Which 3-4 do you like best? Future Hall of Famers exist on both sides, and the coordinators are two of the best in the game. Look at the playmakers: James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu for the Steelers, Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji for the Packers.
It's a celebrated matchup. Now all they need is for the game to live up to the hype -- and history -- of its participants.