NFL Nation: Final Word Super Bowl XLV

Final Word: Super Bowl XLV

February, 5, 2011
2/05/11
2:45
PM ET
Super Bowl XLV Final Word: Steelers | Packers

Five nuggets of knowledge about Super Bowl XLV:

[+] EnlargeRashard Mendenhall
Al Bello/Getty ImagesRashard Mendenhall has been a potent weapon for the Steelers, rushing for 167 yards in two playoff games.
Big stage for Mendenhall: The play of Pittsburgh Steelers tailback Rashard Mendenhall has been under the radar throughout the playoffs. But Mendenhall's performance will be very important for Pittsburgh to beat the Packers. Mendenhall has rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns in Pittsburgh's two playoff games. Playing in his first Super Bowl, Mendenhall has the ability to keep the chains moving and keep Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers off the field. The Packers' run defense has struggled at times, ranking just No. 18 in the NFL this season.

Win one for Flozell: Nearly all the veteran players on the Steelers own at least one Super Bowl ring. But one veteran who doesn't own any jewelry is starting right tackle Flozell Adams. He played a dozen years for the Dallas Cowboys and signed with the Steelers before training camp. With Adams returning to his old stomping grounds, Pittsburgh is taking the approach to "Win one for Flozell." Offensive linemen all wore throwback Michigan State jerseys of Adams on the flight to Dallas on Monday as a show of solidarity.

Keeping the streak: One of the safest bets in sports has been the Steelers in Super Bowls. Pittsburgh is 6-1 all time in the big game, with the only loss coming to the Dallas Cowboys following the 1995 season. (Credit Neil O'Donnell.) Pittsburgh's current group of veterans such as receiver Hines Ward, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Farrior are looking to go 3-0 in Super Bowls. Experience definitely favors Pittsburgh and may play a factor in this game.

Taking shots: Steelers receiver Mike Wallace hasn't made many big plays in the postseason, as defenses have been geared to stop him. But Super Bowl XLV could be an opportunity for Wallace to get back to making those game-changing plays. Packers defensive coordinators Dom Capers blitzes often, and that will present chances for Wallace to go over the top of the defense against single coverage. Much has been said about Green Bay's speed advantage indoors. But Wallace will undoubtedly be the fastest player in this game.

The big Legursky: It was questionable if Doug Legursky would make Pittsburgh's roster out of training camp last summer. Now he's replacing Maurkice Pouncey as the Steelers' starting center in the Super Bowl. It has been a wild ride this season for Legursky, who made the team once veteran center and former starter Justin Hartwig was cut. Legursky filled in at various positions this season. He feels center is his best position, and the Steelers hope he's correct when he faces the Packers on the biggest stage.

Final Word: Super Bowl XLV

February, 5, 2011
2/05/11
2:11
PM ET
Super Bowl XLV Final Word: Steelers | Packers

Five nuggets of knowledge about Super Bowl XLV:

[+] EnlargePete Rozelle and Vince Lombardi
AP PhotoCommissioner Pete Rozelle, left, presents the trophy to Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi after the Packers beat the Chiefs in the first Super Bowl.
The stakes: The Green Bay Packers' mantra the past few weeks has been to "bring the Lombardi Trophy home." The franchise won the first two Super Bowls in history, and the trophy was re-named in honor of coach Vince Lombardi when he died of cancer in 1970. Overall, the Packers will be seeking their fourth Super Bowl victory (in five appearances) and their 13th world championship dating back to 1929. Coach Mike McCarthy has invoked Lombardi often and recently said his favorite Lombardi maxim was the idea of "chasing perfection and catching excellence on the way." Here's a Lombardi quote that applies squarely to this game: "I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle -- victorious."

Mobile QBs: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are two nimble and crafty scramblers who use their instincts to elude the rush and then take off faster than most defenses expect. Roethlisberger is bigger and more physical than Rodgers and has a better chance of muscling away from defensive linemen; Rodgers is quicker. Both will be facing top-ranked defenses and elite pass-rushers -- Steelers linebacker James Harrison has been especially vocal this week -- and their ability to buy extra time will be a crucial fulcrum of this game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Roethlisberger has averaged 9.4 yards per scramble this season, including the playoffs. Rodgers has averaged 8.7 yards. They have five touchdowns between them on such runs.

Fast track: Over the past two weeks, we have discussed numerous angles of this game. You can access them through this handy "XLV" filter. But a few merit repeating. The first is the undeniable success over time the Packers' offense has had in indoor stadiums. As we noted, the Packers have used their speed and precision to average nearly 32 points in 12 such games since 2008, including playoffs. Rodgers has thrown 25 touchdown passes and six interceptions over that span, and the Packers are drawing deep confidence from their past performances. For what it's worth, the Steelers gave up 305 passing yards to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees in their only indoor game during the regular season, a 20-10 loss.

Run discipline: Packers rookie running back James Starks has had one breakthrough game in the playoffs, rushing for 123 yards in the wild-card round against the Philadelphia Eagles, but his impact has extended beyond that. As we discussed last week, McCarthy has trusted Starks for 20 or more carries in each playoff game, an important factor in balancing the Packers' offense and ensuring the integrity of their play-action game. The Packers can win even if Starks doesn't reach a high yardage total, but their chances will decrease if his rushing attempts don't match his previous numbers.

The bottom line: We've spent all season trying to come up with facts and figures to analyze and foreshadow what might happen on game day. So as we approach the biggest and last game of the NFC North season, let's close with another Lombardi quote: "Football is blocking and tackling. Everything else is mythology."

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