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Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay: Super Sunday Storylines

All eyes will be upon Arlington, Texas this evening.  Deep in the heart of Texas, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers will clash for the right to be called champions.  With two of the league’s best defenses, rich histories and best fan bases, Super Bowl XLV is in no way, shape or form short on intrigue.

Doug Legursky replacing Maurkice Pouncey under center.   All week, the Steelers went with the company line and tried their best to play up the positive outlooks and possibilities rookie center and Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey would give it a go.  After not practicing all week, Pouncey’s out for today’s game and center duties fall on Doug Legursky.  A second year undrafted free agent, Legursky now becomes responsible for making calls at the line of scrimmage, audibles and recognizing Green Bay’s blitzing packages.  Not to mention he’ll spend the night trying to fend of powerful Packers DT BJ Raji, who Legursky will conceded over 20 pounds to.  Pouncey’s absence will make it tough for Pittsburgh to run inside, a bread and butter of the Steelers’ ground attack.  Legursky can also expect to see LB Clay Matthews on rush blitzes from the inside, as Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers looks to take advantage of a potential mismatch of one of the NFL’s best linebackers attacking a backup center.  Legursky will have his hands full tonight.

Experience:  The Steelers have it, and the Packers don’t.   There’s a lot to be said for those who have been there before.  Pittsburgh knows how to deal with the bright lights and thrive in the big games.  The Steelers have 25 players on the roster with Super Bowl experience.  On the opposite side of the field, the Packers are green in the experience area with only two players who have played in a Super Bowl before.

Longevity is key.   Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh have had more than a taste of history.  The Packers are in their 90th year in existence and the Steelers have been in existence for 78 years.  That makes these two franchises the two longest-running franchises to remain in one city to appear against one another in a Super Bowl.

Reign of greatness.   Over the past 50 seasons, Pittsburgh and Green Bay are tied with the most NFL championships with six apiece.  Green Bay dominated the 60’s, winning five titles: ’61, ’62, ’65, ’66, and ’67.  The 70’s belonged to Pittsburgh, as the Steelers won four times going back-to-back in ’74 and ’75, & ’78 and ’79.  Bragging rights and the 13th Super Bowl title are up for grabs in Big D.

The NFL’s two best defenses leading the way.   As the league has evolved into a pass-happy, offense now wins championships phase, it’s hard to overlook the defenses sported by Pittsburgh and Green Bay.  In the regular season, the Steelers led the NFL in scoring defense, allowing just 232 points.  The Packers were right on their heels, ranking second with 240 points allowed.  This marks just the fourth time in NFL history (first time since Super Bowl XVII between Miami and Washington) that the league’s top two scoring defenses are meeting in the Super Bowl.

Ben Roethlisberger vs. Aaron Rodgers.   Just like last year’s meeting between Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, this one is must-see tv.  Roethlisberger’s name isn’t mentioned in the same pantheon as Manning, Brees and Brady, but Big Ben could force his way into the discussion with this third Super Bowl victory in just seven seasons in the NFL.  His counterpart, Aaron Rodgers, has led a post-Favre surge back to prominence in Green Bay, something most thought would take longer than just three seasons.   Now, Rodgers is on the cusp on carving his own legacy with the Packers.   Bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay, a place Lombardi made famous, wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

Every Super Bowl needs two things:  a hero and a goat.   David Tyree’s catch.  Santonio Holmes’ game-winning toe-tapping touchdown reception.  Mike Jones’ game-ending tackle on Kevin Dyson.  Tracy Porter’s pick six.  Adam Vinatieri’s make.  Scott Norwood’s miss.  These are the moments and plays that will live in NFL infamy, both good and bad.  No doubt, there will be a hero tonight.  And for every hero, there will be a goat.  Every big play deserves a critical mistake.  The who and the when have yet to be decided.

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