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Pittsburgh Steelers: What to Look for in Super Bowl XLV

Big stage is Big Ben’s time.  This is what you want from your franchise quarterback:  the biggest the game, the better they play.  And that’s been the progression for Ben Roethlisberger in his seven seasons with the Steelers.  In Super Bowl XL in 2006, Big Ben’s rookie season ended with the Lombardi Trophy.  By all account, Roethlisberger had a poor performance in his first Super Bowl, and the Steelers won in spite of his play.  His return trip to the Super Bowl in 2009 in Super Bowl XLIII, the Steelers won because of Roethlisberger, leading one of the most memorable game-winning drives capped off by an amazing touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes.  Big Ben’s been here before.  His 10-2 playoff record speaks for itself.  Conventional or unconvential, alloted time or under fire, Roethlisberger gets it done and knows what it takes to win the big games.

Run, Rashard, Run.  Rashard Mendenall has been a very good weapon for Pittsburgh during this postseason, rushing for 167 yards and three touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s two playoff games.  His ability to continue having success running the football will be critical for what the Steelers want to do on offense.  No starting tackles, no starting center to run behind, Mendenhall might not see many open holes behind the Steelers’ patchwork line, but the Steelers are going to have to adopt similar blueprints against the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.  Pittsburgh must be able to move the chains, creating fresh sets of downs and most importantly, keeping Aaron Rodgers off the field.  Mendenhall will be a big factor for the Steelers offense, as Pittsburgh tries to neutralize Rodgers.

Two for Tomlin.  At just 38, Tomlin could stand alone as the youngest NFL head coach in league history to claim multiple Super Bowl titles.

Fulfilling Flozell’s dream.  He played 12 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, and now Adams returns to his old stomping grounds to play in Cowboys Stadium as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  After being written off by his former team, there’s nothing that Adams or the Steelers would like more than to win this Super Bowl in the Cowboys’ new backyard.

Waiting for Wallace to break out.  One of the fastest players in the NFL, Mike Wallace’s 2011 playoffs has gotten off to slow and quiet start.  As the Steelers’ deep home run threat,  Wallace hasn’t made much noise, with just four catches for 26 yards and no touchdowns.  He was a nonfactor in Pittsburgh’s AFC Championship win over the Jets with a six-yard catch.  This could be a chance for Wallace to fly, as Green Bay defensive coodinator Dom Capers isn’t shy about blitzing early and often.  A lot has been made about the Packers’ speed and having such a big advantage playing indoors, but if Wallace finds himself in single coverage, you’ll see the fastest guy on the field making big plays and looking more the like Mike Wallace we saw in the regular season.

All eyes on Legursky.   From third on the dept chart in training camp to starting in Super Bowl XLV, it’s been quite a journey for reserve lineman Doug Legursky, who will be replacing Steelers rookie Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey.  The offensive line for the Steelers has been in flux all season long.  For Legursky, he’ll have to deal with BJ Raji’s force and athleticism, not to mention runaway train LB Clay Matthews, who the Packers will find ways to exploit Legursky and try and get Matthews blitzing up the middle.  Legursky also is responsible for calling out who’s coming and where the blitzes are coming from.  That won’t be a spring picnic given the big bag of tricks Capers employs with defensive schemes.  It’ll be Legursky’s first career NFL start.  What a game as a professional athlete to make your starting debut in.

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