2011 Super Bowl: Packers Defeat Steelers, 31-25

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2011 Super Bowl Halftime Show: Fifty States Unanimously Agree That Black Eyed Peas Were Awful

Politically, our nation may be hopelessly divided, but on one thing, blue and red states can agree: the Black Eyed Peas’ Super Bowl XLV halftime show was dreadful. In an ESPN poll, a plurality of respondents from all fifty states gave the Black Eyed Peas a grade of F for their performance. 35 percent of respondents overall gave the group an F, while another 35 percent gave them a C or D. They received more Fs than any other grade in every single state, and also throughout the world, as 34 percent of over 3,000 respondents outside the U.S. gave the group an F.

To some degree, this surely reflects some folks’ preference for music that features people playing instruments, especially in live contexts. (There was some guitar playing thanks to a cameo from Slash, but only a little.) Some pop music lovers file this preference under “rockism,” which is the application of the values of rock music to music that isn’t rock. A lot of people are going to give a group like the Black Eyed Peas an F no matter what.

Still, that doesn’t explain most of the responses. Personally, I’m not opposed to live performances that don’t feature instruments, but the Black Eyed Peas are just bad. You could see the contrast between their weirdly limp performance and the cameo by Usher, which was so much more fluid and alive. And the sound quality left a lot to be desired throughout the show.

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2011 Super Bowl: Green Bay Packers Are Super Bowl Champions

A few notes from the last few minutes of the Super Bowl, leading to the Packers' victory:

-P- After a field goal by the Packers widened Green Bay’s lead to six, the Steelers will have two minutes left to put together a touchdown drive. Unfortunately, Keyaron Fox got the drive off to a very poor start with a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff, apparently for pushing and shoving. Because that’s what you do when you’re a veteran – you incur enormously costly 15-yard penalties with your team down six and two minutes left in the Super Bowl. The Steelers are now moving very slowly down the field – they just wasted a bunch of time on a short pass to Hines Ward that didn’t go out of bounds.

… And they just showed the replay on Fox’s penalty. He pushed a guy over right in front of a ref. Great job, Keyaron.

-P- And Ben Roethlisberger just failed to completed a fourth-and-5 pass to Mike Wallace, and the Steelers turn the ball over on downs. The Packers have won the game, 31-25.

Congratulations to the Packers. Aaron Rodgers played really well in this game. Roethlisberger was not nearly as accurate, and the turnovers by Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall really hurt the Steelers.

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2011 Super Bowl: Mike Wallace Burns Packers As Steelers Cut Lead To Three

Ben Roethlisberger just completed a long pass down the sidelines to Mike Wallace for a touchdown, and Antwaan Randle El scored the two-point conversion on an elaborate play that began with a playfake, then a quarterback draw, then an option toss. (Bruce Arians ended up looking pretty creative and smart, but I’m sure Steelers fans would have been outside his house with pitchforks if it hadn’t worked).

The Steelers are now down just 28-25 with seven-and-a-half minutes to play. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will begin their next drive at their own 25 yard line. The Steelers will look to stop the Packers relatively quickly and get at least one more chance to take the lead, or at least to tie the game.

Some of the guys I’m watching this with are wondering who will be the MVP if the Steelers win this one – Wallace, maybe? He was relatively quiet in the first half, but he now has 89 yards receiving. Hines Ward has 73 yards.

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2011 Super Bowl: Rashard Mendenhall's Fumble Costly As Aaron Rodgers Leads Packers to Another Score

Rashard Mendenhall was playing a huge game before this and Clay Matthews had been very quiet, but that all changed with the first play in the fourth quarter, in which Matthews forced a fumble by Mendenhall.

The Packers are now driving down the field – Aaron Rodgers have targeted Jordy Nelson about a million times and been rewarded with several drops, but this time Rodgers connected with Nelson for a pass in which Nelson got about 30 yards after the catch, leading the Packers inside the ten yard line. Rodgers then hit Greg Jennings wide open in the corner of the end zone, and now Green Bay is up 28-17. The Steelers will need two scores in the next 12 minutes to pull this one off.

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2011 Super Bowl: Steelers Miss Field Goal, Still Trail 21-17

The Steelers again are driving fairly effortlessly despite an inaccurate deep throw and a couple of rather scary decisions by Ben Roethlisberger. Clay Matthews just batted down a pass, and it was among the first times he has been a factor. The Steelers’ offensive line has played really well – the running game has looked very good, and Roethlisberger has mostly had plenty of time to pass. The Packers finally did just pick up a sack, setting up a 52-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham, who was almost comically off to the left.

The Steelers are still down 21-17, but I feel better about their chances than I did a few minutes ago. They’re running the ball pretty much at will, with Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore all playing well. For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers has been terrific, but his teammates haven’t really backed up up, with several big drops by his wide receivers.

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2011 Super Bowl: Steelers Score In Opening Drive Of Third Quarter

More: Super Bowl 2012 coverage.

The second half began with several costly penalties by the Packers (including a face-mask penalty that looks like it shouldn’t have been called). James Jones also dropped a fantastic throw by Aaron Rodgers that would have produced an easy touchdown.

The Steelers then led a convincing charge down the field, led by a big run by Rashard Mendenhall (after which he briefly departed after being shaken up while running into a cameraman). Isaac Redman then entered the game and picked up a nice gain after cutting back to the left on a play that appeared to be designed to go to the right.

Mendenhall ran the ball in for a touchdown, and Shaun Suisham kicked a horrible-looking extra point that stayed just within the uprights. The Steelers now trail 21-17 early in the second half and appear to be very much back in the game despite a weak showing throughout much of the first half. I would look for the Steelers to try to keep running more throughout the rest of the second half. The Packers now have the ball at around their own 20 yard line. Jordy Nelson just had another drop, at least the third big one by a Packers receiver today.

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2011 Super Bowl Halftime Show: Black Eyed Peas Stink Up Silly Retro-Futurist Performance

The 2011 Super Bowl Halftime Show wasn't one I was looking forward to, but ... Fergie singing “Sweet Child ’O Mine”? You’ve got to be kidding me. I suppose the idea is to have Slash save the show for everyone out there who thinks that music has to have guitars, but basically, it just turned into Fergie doing bad Axl karaoke there for a while. The four-robots-rapping-badly thing that was going on before that was bad, but at least it was manageably bad.

The whole black-and-white Jetsons look isn’t well-executed, but it does make some sense for Black Eyed Peas. Will.i.am stole his whole look here from Kool Keith, but Taboo actually makes a lot of sense with the Lite-Brite retro-futuristic look, which suit his rigid, barely-human movements perfectly.

Usher is saving things a bit – the guy is a really convincing dancer, if nothing else. The mix still sounds horrible, though – I know stadium shows generally don’t sound good, but come on, it’s 2011, and the backing tracks don’t sound full at all.

And now the Dirty Dancing theme? What the hell? And now there are dozens of people dancing with boxes on their heads. This is nowhere near as weird and cool as it thinks it is. And while I’m not one of those who believes that music has to have guitars, the Black Eyed Peas are one enormous downgrade from Bruce Springsteen the last time the Steelers were in the Super Bowl.

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2011 Super Bowl: Hines Ward Catches Touchdown Pass, Steelers Down 21-10 At Half

Ben Roethlisberger comes up big, finally, with a minute left before halftime, completing three big passes to Hines Ward (two of them in some pretty serious traffic), the last of which was for a touchdown to the deep right corner of the end zone. The Steelers now trail 21-10 with 39 seconds left to play in the half.

Before this drive, Roethlisberger had three passing first downs and two interceptions, even though he had actually been getting some nice protection from the Steelers’ much-maligned offensive line. So it’s nice to see him come to life a bit. Shaun Suisham uncharacteristically pins the kickoff deep in the end zone, and the Packers will run out the clock. The Steelers will head to the locker room down 11 points. Given the interceptions, it could have been worse. It was a nice half for Rashard Mendenhall, Antwaan Randle El, and Ward, but a rough one for Roethlisberger and the Steelers' secondary.

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2011 Super Bowl: Ben Roethlisberger's Interceptions Hurting Steelers As Packers Open Up 21-3 Lead

Ben Roethlisberger throws a second interception (to Jarrett Bush, this time) on a really horrible ball – Roethlisberger was clearly throwing into traffic the whole time. The Packers get the ball back with an 11-point lead and about four minutes left to play in the first half.

The interception ruined a decent drive that featured a beautiful catch by Antwaan Randle El (that Randle El got way too excited about, but still).

After a couple of first downs, Aaron Rodgers throws a 21-yard touchdown over the middle to Greg Jennings. Troy Polamalu hits Jennings at the goal line, but it isn’t enough, and now it’s 21-3, as Roethlisberger’s two interceptions have proven very costly.

The Steelers badly need to put together a drive with two and a half minutes left in the half. Antonio Brown receives the kickoff, and the Steelers start at their own 23 yard line.

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2011 Super Bowl: Steelers On Board, 14-3

-P- The Steelers are finally driving now, and they get the benefit of a generous spot when Emmanuel Sanders catches and apparent first down, then cuts back inside the first-down marker himself before being tackled. The Steelers get a first down anyway and are now inside the Packers’ red zone. On third-and-7, though, Ben Roethlisberger dumps a rather inaccurate pass to Mike Wallace, and Wallace is stopped well short of the first-down marker. Shaun Suisham comes on and just barely sneaks the ball inside the right upright on a 34-yard field goal, and the Steelers get on the board. It’s now 14-3.

At least the Steelers got something, but they’re still having trouble passing the ball downfield. Rashard Mendenhall has looked good, but that’s about it.

-P- A Faith Hill commercial based on a joke about … boobs! Really not much creativity in the advertising this year, evidently.

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2011 Super Bowl: Nick Collins' Pick-Six Gives Packers 14-0 Lead

Well, this is getting bad. Ben Roethlisberger throws a wobbly ball downfield while passing out of his own end zone – the pass was disrupted by Howard Green – and Nick Collins picks the ball off and runs it back for a touchdown. One of Roethlisberger’s patented pump fakes, usually a great asset, backfired here, as he faked in the same direction he eventually threw, allowing Collins to read the play and get to ball in time for it to arrive.

The Packers lead 14-0 and are very much in charge here. The Steelers will need to get something going, particularly since the Packers will get the ball to begin the second half. Rashard Mendenhall picks up a first down on the Steelers’ ensuing drive. They could really use a score here with the first quarter about to come to an end. Unfortunately, Chris Kemoeatu picks up a penalty for an illegal block in the back on a screen pass to Emmanuel Sanders, and now it’s first-and-16.

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2011 Super Bowl: Packers Score, Take 7-0 Lead

The Packers score first in Super Bowl XLV. Read on:

-P- Really nice play by Aaron Rodgers to avoid a sack and dump a pass to Brandon Jackson, who picks up a first down as the Packers enter Steelers territory with about five minutes left in the first half.

-P- Rodgers tosses a touchdown pass down the line to Jordy Nelson, who beats William Gay, who arguably also could have been called for pass interference on the play as all. The Packers take the lead, 7-0, and the Steelers will have to try to get something going on offense.

The Packers looked good on this drive, and they’re doing a nice job taking advantage of the few weak links (like Madison and Gay, although Gay’s coverage really wasn’t awful) in the Steelers’ defense.

-P- Can we stop having commercials about guys getting hit in the groin? Please?

-P Antonio Brown breaks another nice return, but it will be called back after an illegal block in the back.

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2011 Super Bowl: Packers, Steelers Trade Drives

-P- Big completion from Aaron Rodgers to Donald Driver for 24 yards, abusing Anthony Madison.

-P- Jordy Nelson misses a very catchable ball that would have put the Packers in the red zone, and the Packers have to punt. The punt goes into the end zone, and the Packers get the ball back at their own 20. Everybody warmed up now? Good.

-P- In the commercials, the wacky Audi “Luxury Prison” ads continue to stand out from the rest. The Bud Light and Doritos ads that preceded it weren’t particularly funny.

-P- Rashard Mendenhall picks up the Steelers’ first first down thanks in part to David Johnson, who blocks Clay Matthews. It looks like the Steelers will be running pretty hard tonight. Unfortuantely, Johnson picks up a false start two plays later.

-P- Ben Roethlisberger’s short pass to Mike Wallace comes up short on second down. There’s no flag for pass interference (and, upon review, no need for one) on Roethlisberger’s third-down pass to Heath Miller, and the Steelers punt, a beauty by Jeremy Kapinos that goes into the end zone with Keenan Lewis can’t find the ball.

-P- Did you know that old people have trouble hearing? Ha ha!!!!

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2011 Super Bowl: Steelers And Packers Both Get Big Breaks Early In 1st Quarter

After a quick four yard bubble screen to Hines Ward on the game’s opening play, the Steelers went predictable on their second and third down plays. An unimaginative draw play on 2nd and 6 was gobbled up, and a miscommunication between Ben Roethlisberger and his intended target on 3rd down forced the black and gold to punt it away.

The first minor break of the game then goes to Green Bay as Tramon Williams recovered his own muffed punt. A huge scrum ensued, and for a moment it looked like the Steelers may have recovered the loose ball.

The Steelers got a break of their own on Green Bay’s first offensive series. After one first down completion on 3rd and long, the Steelers dodged a bullet when Jordy Nelson let a ball go through his hands deep down the right sideline. A tough catch, no doubt, but one that Nelson has got to make. The Packers were forced to punt it away and the coverage unit was unable to down the ball before it tumbled into the endzone.

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2011 Super Bowl Kickoff: Steelers Go Three And Out

Super Bowl 45 is underway. Here are a few notes from the pregame and the beginning of the game.

-P- I’ve never watched Glee before, but Lea Michelle is not making me want to. At least Christina Aguilera can sing (although her growling R&Bisms were a bit much here – it doesn’t sound good when you change the last note of the National Anthem).

-P- Michael Douglas? Seriously? I just totally missed the comparison he was trying to make between Martin Luther King and Neil Armstrong and the Pittsburgh Steelers, but I think that’s okay.

-P- The Packers win the coin toss and defer to the Steelers, who will receive.

-P- Really nice opening return by Antonio Brown out of the Steelers’ end zone, and Pittsburgh will start at their own 36. Ben Roethlisberger delivers a short pass to Hines Ward to start the game, and we’re underway. Unfortunately, the Packers wrap up Rashard Mendenhall for a loss on second down, and on third down, there must have been some sort of miscommunication between Roethlisberger and Brown – it looks like Brown was supposed to come back toward Roethlisberger, but he didn’t. Jeremy Kapinos punts and the Packers fumble the return but come up with the ball.

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2011 Super Bowl: Christina Aguilera Gets Loud Applause For Singing National Anthem Incorrectly

The electricity inside Cowboy Stadium is building as we’re just minutes away from kickoff at Super Bowl XLV. As I write this, the captains of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers are heading to midfield for the coin toss.

Christina Aguilera just finished the singing of the national anthem, and though it wasn't a major gaffe, I can’t say that I was too impressed. The loudest roars during the anthem came when the massive scoreboard showed shots of our troops watching the game from abroad, as well as for former President George W. Bush.

I didn’t have my timer handy, but I wonder how the first prop bet of the Super Bowl ended up: that being the over/under on how long it would take Aguilera to make her way through the national anthem. My guess is she went under as it seemed like one of the shorter renditions I’ve heard on this type of big stage.

Game time is just minutes away!

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2011 Super Bowl: Kickoff Less Than 45 Minutes Away

Howdy Steeler Nation! I’m writing from one of the auxiliary press tables here in Dallas alongside SB Nation’s Packers blogger Brandon Benson of Acme Packing Company, and Joel Thorman, the NFL editor at SB Nation.com. It’s been a fun and crazy week here in Dallas. And after a long two weeks of waiting since the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game, Steeler Nation is anxiously awaiting the kickoff of Super Bowl XLV.

Of all the people I’ve talked to this week, very few believe that the Steelers will win Lombardi No. 7. Instead, most media folks seem to believe that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ explosive offense will be too much for the Steelers to handle. I’m not in that camp though. I truly believe the Steelers will play well on both sides of the ball, particularly on defense.

Stay tuned here throughout the evening for more updates from Cowboy Stadium, and head on over to Behind the Steel Curtain for an ongoing conversation during the game amongst Steelers fans.

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2011 Super Bowl: Some Seats At Cowboys Stadium Not Ready

With just an hour left before the Super Bowl XLV kickoff at 6:30, some temporary seats at Cowboys Stadium have yet to be completed, so some fans hoping to see the Steelers vs. Packers matchup may be left out of the excitement. The stadium plans to move some affected fans to new seats, but they may have to refund others:

“Fans who are not accommodated with seats inside the stadium will each receive a refund of triple the cost of the face value of the ticket,” the statement said. “We regret the situation.”

Some fans are being sent to the “Party Plaza” section outside the stadium, which has to be a huge disappointment, regardless of the refund. The Cowboys are trying to cram in as many people as possible, and it’s a shame that some fans, I assume including many who paid a pretty penny for travel and hotel, won’t be able to get in.

Also, four entrances to the stadium out of ten have been closed because of concerns over falling ice from the roof of the stadium. Six people were hurt earlier this week when ice and snow fell from the Cowboys Stadium roof.

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2011 Super Bowl Time: Steelers Vs. Packers

Believe it or not, the big question right now isn’t whether the Packers’ defensive line will get to Ben Roethlisberger or whether the Steelers’ defense will be able to stop Green Bay’s pass-happy attack. It’s what time the Super Bowl will be, with “what time does the superbowl start,” “what time is the super bowl,” “superbowl kickoff time 2011,” “what time does super bowl 2011 start,” and, uh, “nancy reagan” and “green bay packers colors” dominating Google Trends.

Well, folks, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. The Super Bowl kicks off at 6:30 Eastern this evening at Cowboys Stadium, and it’s on FOX (for those of you Googling “what channel is the superbowl on in 2011”). Nancy Reagan was the wife of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. And the Packers wear dark green, gold and white, unless James Harrison gets to them, in which case they wear black and blue. Also, there will be lots of wacky commercials! And the sun is hot and water is wet. Now you know.

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2011 Super Bowl: Steelers Try To 'Win One For Flozell'

If the Steelers win Super Bowl XLV against the Packers, it won’t be the first time as Super Bowl winners for most of the team. But one veteran, Flozell Adams, has yet to win one:

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.

I missed that when it was reported earlier this week. That’s cool, even though it meant the Steelers were wearing green when they got off the plane.

“I had no idea. When I got through security at the airport, I saw a bunch of them and I’m like, ‘Whoa!’ " Adams said of seeing his fellow offensive linemen in the green Spartans gear he last wore in 1997.

Adams will be 36 in May, so this could be his last clean shot at a Super Bowl victory.

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2011 Super Bowl: Will Super Bowl Experience Help Steelers Beat Packers?

ESPN asks if the Steelers’ prior experience in the Super Bowl, and the Packers’ lack of experience, will be a factor when the two teams meet today at 6:30 PM in Super Bowl XLV:

The Packers? This is essentially their first championship rodeo; only three of their players have played in the Super Bowl: Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett and John Kuhn — and Kuhn, who was a non-playing fullback on the Steelers’ practice squad for Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, is the only one with a ring.

That’s a good thing for the Steelers, right?

“You get off the plane and you’ve got helicopters, you’ve got police and media and then this [media day],” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said this week. “If you’re not used to it, it can be overwhelming. I think it helps a little bit to at least have some prior knowledge and experience with it.”

In the article, a number of former top players remember their experiences in the Super Bowl. There can be huge bursts of emotion in the game, and it might be to the Steelers’ advantage that they know how to deal with them. Then again, one might just as easily say that the emotions will hit the Packers harder and that they’ll therefore be more motivated. It’s very hard to say for sure what effect the experience issue will have, or if it will have an effect at all.

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2011 Super Bowl Commercials: Previews Uninspiring So Far

Business Insider has a big YouTube library of this year’s Super Bowl Commercials. I’m not a big fan of commercials in general and think the connection of commercials to the biggest football game of the year is rather weird. But in the interest of being a good sport, I’m skimming through them now, and here are a couple of the more enjoyable ones:

-P- Hyundai re-imagines a world in which we still watch silent movies and ride around on huge turn-of-the-century-style bicycles.

-P- Audi has another teaser for its weird “Luxury Prison” series.

Elsewhere, there’s, uh, more babies talking to each other, a guy getting hit in the groin (ha ha!), and more car commercials suggesting that buying their product is an act of independent thinking and sticking it to the man … basically, the usual stuff. I don’t really care for commercials, but I’m open to having my mind blown by the best the world of advertising has to offer, and this batch didn’t really do it for me. The Audi Kenny G teaser is the only one I’ve really dug so far.

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Steelers Vs. Packers: Maurkice Pouncey Placed On Injured Reserve As Pittsburgh Signs Guard Dorian Brooks

The Steelers have placed injured center Maurkice Pouncey on injured reserve and have signed Dorian Brooks from their practice squad.

This is quite a coup for Brooks, a 23-year-old guard who signed with the Steelers back in April as an undrafted free agent out of James Madison. He now gets to tell his grandkids that he was a part of a Super Bowl team. But this appears to be just a depth move in case the Steelers suffer yet another offensive line injury – if Brooks ends up playing with the offense, there’s a problem.

As for Pouncey, it was announced yesterday that he would not play in the Super Bowl after injuring his ankle in the AFC Championship Game against the Jets. Doug Legursky will start in his place. It’s a tough loss for the Steelers, but one they’ve had two weeks to prepare for, since there was every indication since the AFC Championship Game that Pouncey would be unavailable.

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2011 Super Bowl: Ice, Snow Fall From Cowboys Stadium, Injuring Six

Six people were injured by snow and ice falling off of Cowboys Stadium on Friday, ESPN reports. None of the injuries appear terribly serious, fortunately, but Dallas will have to figure out how to get the snow and ice off the building before the Super Bowl there on Sunday.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said one person suffered a possible concussion and another a shoulder injury.

All stadium entrances, except for a truck tunnel, were closed after the ice and snow began falling from the roof.

“The likelihood is they’ll have to get somebody up there to get the snow off as soon as possible,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “They likely will be doing that in the next 24 hours.”

Fortunately, temperatures are supposed to be in the 40s in Dallas on Sunday, meaning that the area around the stadium is likely to merely be wet. In the meantime, today’s weather has forced the cancellations of hundreds of flights, causing travel problems for fans coming to the game.

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Steelers Injury Report: Maurkice Pouncey, Aaron Smith Officially Out

Finally, it’s official: Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and defensive lineman Aaron Smith won’t play in the Super Bowl. And now we can get on with the rest of our lives.

The status of these two players was constant news all week despite the chances that they would play being extremely small. Pouncey has a broken bone and hasn’t practiced with the team since the AFC Championship game. Smith has missed the past couple of months with a torn triceps and was limited in his participation in practice. The Steelers were hopeful that he would be able to return at some point this season, but that hasn’t come to pass.

Pouncey will be replaced by Doug Legursky, who looks capable, but he’ll have the unenviable task of facing off against Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji. The Steelers’ offensive line, weak even before Pouncey’s absence, will have to protect Ben Roethlisberger for the Steelers’ offense to make much of anything happen.

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2011 Super Bowl Commericals: Kenny G Stars In Spot For Audi

That Kenny G is evidently starring in a Super Bowl commercial sounds lame, which is exactly why it’s great. This teaser, starring cheesy saxophone star Kenny G as a “Luxury Prison” employee who plays his saxophone to prevent inmates from throwing lobster at each other, is pretty awesome:

My favorite part:

Q: The nickname, I heard, is called “Kenny Z” around here?

Kenny G: Yeah, anybody calls me “Kenny Z,” I’ll f*** them up. I’ll play an E, I’ll play an E flat. They can’t touch me after that.

If you were a schlocky pop culture figure from the 1980s, it’s incredibly easy to rehabilitate your reputation by making fun of yourself. It’ll be fun to see how the ad turns out. Presumably, Audi is going to break us all free from the “Luxury Prison” of Mercedes and BMW. I’m not quite sure how the ironic sendup of Kenny G will play with Audi’s target demographic but, you know, whatever.

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2011 Super Bowl: Rashard Mendenhall Could Trample Packers

The Green Bay defense is a nasty unit, sure. In Super Bowl XLV, they'll field outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who finished second to Steelers safety Troy Polamalu in Defensive Player of the Year votes, cornerback Charles Woodson, who won the award in 2009, and B.J. Raji, one of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the game. And that's just to name a few Packers playmakers on defense. In the regular season, they finished 5th against the pass (194.2 ypg) and second in points allowed per game (15.0). 

But here's the dirty little secret about the Packers: you can run on them.

At first, they look like a middling squad against the rush, as Green Bay ranks 18th in terms of yards allowed per game (114.9). However, only four teams were more generous in terms of yards per carry: the Packers allowed an eye-popping average of 4.7 yards per rush.

The reason you don't hear anybody reporting about this is that teams typically didn't run against the Pack this year. (They were sixth in the league in terms of opposing rush attempts per game with 24.7.) In the games they won, Green Bay usually jumped out to a big lead thanks to the arm of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and their high-octane aerial attack, so the opposition was usually struggling to keep up and limited to the pass themselves.

But there's no reason you can't have a good ground game against the Pack if you stick with it. The Dolphins, Lions, and Vikings proved that in the regular season.

Enter Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, who carried Pittsburgh on his back against the Jets in the AFC Championship. He didn't perform well when these the Steelers and Packers clashed last year (38 yards, 3.5 ypc), but I expect that to change in Super Bowl XLV. The (presumed) absence of rookie center Maurkice Pouncey is a concern, yes, but replacement Doug Legursky should fill in nicely in the ground game. (Pass protection might prove to be a different story.)

The main concern, in my mind, is that the Steelers have had most of their success running right behind tackle Flozell Adams and pulling left guard Chris Kemoeatu. Green Bay knows this, and they will have planned for it. Granted, Pittsburgh knows that Green Bay knows this...so the key could be how they adjust with misdirection to stay unpredictable on the ground.

I've said before that Super Bowl XLV is a matchup of premier pass rushers and premier quarterbacks. But don't be surprised if Mendenhall comes up big for Pittsburgh this Sunday. All signs point to that possibility - now it's just up to execution.

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2011 Super Bowl: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers Go Out To Dinner; Internet Freaks Out

See, stuff like this is why it’s unfortunate that the break between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl lasts two weeks and not one. There’s actually a mini-controversy about Ben Roethlisberger taking his offensive linemen out to dinner and to a piano bar on Tuesday.

TMZ.com reported that the Steelers players were out past their 1:00 AM curfew. Even if that were the case, I’m not really sure it would be our business, but everyone involved – Roethlisberger, offensive lineman Willie Colon, the piano bar manager – denies they were out late. It would be Mike Tomlin’s business, but Tomlin couldn’t care less:

“I’m not concerned one iota,” he said. “It’s normal for guys to eat dinner, believe it or not.”

Not only is it normal to eat dinner, but in pure football terms, there have to be benefits to having a quarterback and an offensive line that care about each other.

Of course, Ben Roethlisberger did sing Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” which probably violated basic decency. But it isn’t like that should stop the Steelers from winning the Super Bowl.

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2011 Super Bowl: Maurkice Pouncey Still Absent From Steelers Practice

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was absent from practice Thursday, three days before the Super Bowl, and defensive lineman Aaron Smith, on the shelf for months with a torn triceps, did not participate in scrimmages.

For the second straight day, defensive end Aaron Smith, idle since Oct. 24 with a torn triceps, was limited in practice and didn’t play in any scrimmage work, while center Maurkice Pouncey (high ankle sprain) wasn’t present. He was inside the Horned Frogs’ training room getting rehab on the right ankle. Coach Mike Tomlin said he didn’t know if Pouncey would practice Friday, but said time is growing short for the rookie center to prove he can be mobile enough to play in Sunday’s game against Green Bay.

“It’s getting to be the witching hour for Maurkice,‘’ Tomlin said after practice. "He’s going to have to show us something very soon.’’

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there’s practically no chance that either of these guys are going to play. It’s unfortunate, but that appears to be reality, and it’s time to get used to the idea of Doug Legursky as the Steelers’ center.

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Steelers Vs. Packers: Ben Roethlisberger Most Disliked Player In Super Bowl XLV

According to a recent poll, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be the most disliked player on the field this Sunday, when his Steelers take on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV. Coincidentally, Roethlisberger is also the only player on either team who has received multiple allegations of rape. I'm just going out on a limb here, but maybe these two facts are connected somehow. Maybe...

Oddly enough, Roethlisberger is actually the fourth most disliked player in the league, behind fellow quarterbacks Brett Favre, Michael Vick, and Tom Brady (who I have been known to hate on). Chalk it up to the overwhelming popularity of the Pittsburgh Steelers brand that someone accused of multiple acts of rape could be more tolerated than an attention-starved sexting machine (Favre), a guy who electrocuted dogs but served a two-year prison sentence (Vick), and a dude who's really good at throwing a football and impregnating supermodels - who might be kind of a jerk (Brady).

I suppose it's worth pointing out that this poll was conducted before Roethlisberger's smilefest on Tuesday's "media day," where he joked around with a kid reporting for his school's newspaper, referenced his Christianity about a billion times, and dodged questions about his checkered past like they were opposing linebackers. Roethlisberger has clearly rehearsed with what I imagine is a small army of public relations consultants; maybe Tuesday's display of media savvy would bump him down the list even further - who knows.

Some other interesting findings from the poll:

  • Seventy-eight percent of Americans (and 89 percent of males) plan to watch the game.
  • Most Americans are rooting for the Packers (45 percent) over the Steelers (39 percent).
  • Seven out of ten people say they watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, not the game. 
  • American men look forward to Super Bowl Sunday more than their anniversary, birthday, or Thanksgiving. Only Christmas takes the back seat to the biggest day in pro football.
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2011 Super Bowl: James Harrison Mocks NFL For Illegal-Hits Issue (Video)

The illegal-hits issue that dominated Steelers-related coverage early this season came back in a big way in James Harrison’s appearance at media day on Tuesday. Harrison was sarcastic in reaction to the NFL’s treatment of him earlier this season:

Like I said, I don’t want to hurt nobody, I don’t want to step on nobody’s foot or hurt their toe, I don’t want to have no dirt or none of this rubber on this field flying today and make their eye hurt. I just want to tackle them softly on the ground and if y’all can, we’ll lay a pillow down where I’m gonna tackle them, so they don’t hit the ground too hard, Mr. Goodell.

Hopefully this illegal-hits issue can fade into the background now. While it’s true that blows to the head are a serious issue, the NFL’s method of handling it basically was to pick on Harrison a lot. He’s absolutely justified in taking some (verbal!) shots at the league.

Here’s the video:

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Super Bowl XLV: Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday Press Conference -- Ben Roethlisberger Quotes

When I thought about the media onslaught that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would face during Media Days at Super Bowl XLV, I cringed knowing full well that Big Ben would be subjected to all sorts of invasive and mostly vapid questions about his personal life. Not surprisingly, Roethlisberger faced just that during his Tuesday session with the media. Of course, the press is just doing their job, but honestly, it can't be much fun for Big Ben to have to repeatedly be asked 'if he's changed' or some other variation of that question time and time again. But when you're a $100+ million dollar franchise quarterback who screwed up like he did, that's to be expected I suppose. Hopefully Big Ben can just keep his cool throughout it all, and then get to the task at hand beginning Wednesday of preparing for the Green Bay Packers.

Let's hear what Roethlisberger had to say during his lengthy chat with the media on Tuesday.

Other Monday/Tuesday Press Conference Transcriptions:

QUOTES FROM PITTSBURGH STEELERS PRESS CONFERENCE

QB Ben Roethlisberger


(On his attitude about today) "Taking it in stride, enjoying the opportunity to film all you guys and play in another Super Bowl because you never know when it's going to be your last one."

(On his pre-game rituals) "I have a lot of them. One that everybody can see is that before the game I go around and shake everybody on my team's hand including the coach, coach Tomlin. So you can see that in the pregame."

(On why he picked number 7) "John Elway. One of my favorites growing up. I had a lot of favorites but I liked the number and I liked him and the way that he played the game."

(On if he wins Sunday he'll have more Super Bowl wins than Elway) "Wow. He's still the greatest, he's still one of the greatest to play the game."

(On finding peace) "If you have it and you know it, then it's an easy thing to talk about. I think it starts with my faith and I think when you have an understanding with what you want to do in life and the bigger pictures at times, which is life, family, faith, I think that's the peace that I'm talking about."

(On if he thought it was impossible to make it to Dallas) "I think that anything is possible if you believe in it and work hard enough."

(On if he is a different person than a year ago) "I think you always go through changes in life. I'm not going to keep hitting this over and over that it's a reflective question because it's not time to reflect because really it's about this game. When you're faced with challenges in life you find ways to try to overcome them. Just like when there are doubters and naysayers that challenged me in a football sense, it challenges me to rise above. So in the same way as me being a better person, people saying ‘you can't do it', it makes me want to rise to the occasion and be the best I can be."

(On his appreciation for the Super Bowl) "Yes and no, but it's the Super Bowl. If you don't have an appreciation for this regardless of what's going on in your life, something is wrong with you. I'm sure every player here and all you people out there when you were kids and you played football, you wanted to play in the Super Bowl. So to have that opportunity is awesome."

(On if he thinks he is a good guy) "I think so."

(On the Peter King retraction) "Well I got kind of hit with that one yesterday, that question. I had no idea where it came from or any of that stuff so I kind of was unaware of anything. So obviously it got built up real big yesterday. I don't really read a lot or any newspapers or magazine articles or watch too much TV sports things, so I don't get to see a lot of those things so a lot of the things I hear are either from my agent, the media people, things like that. I've heard a lot of the different things and how they have transpired."

(On how he wants to be perceived) "I think there are a lot of ways. I think that you're always taught, people ask you ‘what do you want on your obituary, your tombstone?' And I think, you know just to sit there and somebody to say that he's a good person, a God-fearing person that was loyal to his family and put family first, family and God first and enjoyed the way that he played the game of football, enjoyed football and just lived every day like it was his last."

(On if he is perceived that way) "I don't know, I think that's probably a question, that I know people ask, that people go out and ask people. I just try to go out and enjoy life and do the best I can to be the best person I can be, the best son, and Christian and everything like that."

(On predicting Aaron Rodgers would be good) "I'm pretty good aren't I? I might have a gig at ESPN as an analyst or something like that after that right? No, I've known it. I've always known that he's a great player, a great person, a great quarterback. He has all the tools and the intangibles and the things that you can't coach. He has football sense, football awareness, the quick release, the athleticism, he can throw on the run, he can make all of the throws. It's not just sitting in the pocket and being coached to throw this particular way. When a rush comes, you key up, you have to drop your elbow sometimes and throw sidearm. You have to be able to throw going to your left or your right, he can do it all."

(On being in the Brady, Bradshaw class) "That's unbelievable company. I don't put myself there, I think they are too good. I hate sitting there answering those questions because it's assuming we win you know? I hope we win, I'm going to do everything I can to win it, you just never know. That's why I don't want to think about that yet. Maybe that's a good question if we win and I'm sitting at the podium."

(On playing football again) "I love playing football. I love doing it, I love being around these guys and I wanted to try to get to this stage for those guys, for the Rooney's, for the fans. For me the easy part was playing football."

(On the team without him) "They're a great football team, they had some great quarterback play in Charlie [Batch] and Dennis [Dixon] and Byron [Leftwich]. I knew that they were in great hands. Those are great players and great quarterbacks."

(On the hardest part of it all) "You guys, you know what, every day you wake up there's always challenges that face you and it's how can you start your day and go throughout your day with the challenges that face you, whatever it is. Everyone has different challenges, whether it's illness, family issues, whatever it is. Every day challenges are always the hard thing."

(On the Steelers fans) "Great, the Pittsburgh fans are awesome."

(On the fan support) "Obviously you see them everywhere we go. I always say that Pittsburgh fans are the best fans in all of sport. I think that's what this game, why it's going to be so awesome because Packer fans, I know they travel and I know their passion about their Packers. That's why I think this is the ultimate game and the ultimate two teams playing in it."

(On cheeseheads versus terrible towels) "That's tough, I'm going to have to go with the towel, Myron Cope's towel, there's something about it."

(On winning the media award by Pittsburgh media) "It meant a lot to me. I talk to those guys and see them a lot, obviously the Pittsburgh local media. I wasn't always the nicest guy to them and I can admit that but I know that they're doing their job. It's nothing, I can't take things personal that they say and write. I just wanted them to know that I apologize to them for ever being difficult to work with and trying to be better to work with and I think that that, I hope that shows that I have been better this year to work with and easier to work with. That award really meant a lot to me."

(On Tim Tebow) "I think he's a good quarterback. I think that he worked really hard at trying to work on that, his release or throwing motion or whatever it was. Great athlete obviously, so it's just a matter of can he find that fine line between being an athlete and a quarterback, I think."

(On his quarterback style) "I just play the game the way that I know how. It's hard to really, I don't know why I do it the way that I do it. I just do it, truthfully."


(On playing hurt) "Kind of a lot of, I think it's a couple things. Resilience, how can you bounce back from an interception, from a bad game, things like that. Just being out there, wanting to be out there for your guys. You always hear people say ‘the difference between being injured and hurt'. If you're hurt, are you still out there playing? Are you out there with your guys and fighting to the end? I think that's part of toughness and obviously, like I said, being mentally tough is a big one."

(On winning a Super Bowl as a QB) "It depends on if you played as bad as I played the first time. It's an awesome thing. Like I said, everyone dreams about it as a kid, especially if you're a quarterback. To have the opportunity to go to one and then to win it is just an unbelievably awesome thing."

(On being close with his teammates) "I'm very close with a lot of the guys. One of my best friends [Brett Keisel] is sitting right over there next to me. There was a big group of guys I always had their support, real close, and there was just a couple that I maybe wasn't as close to as I wanted to be and needed to be and really worked hard to be closer with and be a better teammate with."

(On what worries him about the Packers) "I don't know if there's one concern, there's a lot of them. But I think it starts with, obviously they have a great quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, but for me it's probably going to be Clay Matthews and some of those guys on defense who are really, really good players."

(On escaping danger in the pocket) "I don't know to tell you the truth. I don't know where a lot of things I do came from. I just think it's playing the game. It's not like, obviously you do drills where you practice things like that. A lot of things I think it's just having that you know, they call it the clock, the clock that goes off in your head that says, ‘it's time to get out of here', get out of the pocket, run, scramble, do what you got to do."

(On Terry Hoeppner's impact) "A big impact. He was a fatherly figure to me. The hardest part about that is that like he would be here, I wish he could be here for me and with me and I know he's got the best seat in the house, better than Jerry [Jones'] seat, but it still would be awesome to have him here because he means a lot to me."

(On not putting himself in Brady or Manning's class) "I don't know, maybe it's my way of keeping me as the underdog. It drives Coach Tomlin crazy because he wants me to put myself in that category, but, I don't know, I guess I like being the hunter, not the hunted."

(On if it bothers him that Pittsburgh has never had to beat New England to get to a Super Bowl) "Just to get to a Super Bowl, I don't care who we play. Just to get a chance to get here is fine with me."

(On not being as picturesque as Brady or Manning) "I'm not pretty when I play the game, I'll be the first to admit it, but I don't try to be. When I say these things, I'm not trying to knock on any of those guys, you'll see I say they're the best. I just play the game to win it. Like I said before, I'll probably never win a passing title, probably never win the MVP of the NFL, and I'm okay with that, really I am. People may think that I'm crazy. For me, at the end of the day, it's about wins and losses and championships. That's the only stat that matters to me."

(On advice he got about this week) "Just have fun and be yourself, honestly. The people I talk to the most know me the best and they're like, ‘just be yourself and let people see who you are.'"

(On the weather in Dallas) "This is crazy. No, I don't know, I woke up and saw the snow out there and thought I was at home for a second."

(On how it feels to have a lawnmower and a snowblower in his garage) "Well, it gets a lot of use because I do it all myself."

(On his favorite video game) "Well, I was caught between Tiger Woods and Call of Duty. I couldn't figure it out, but those would be fun. It'd be really good."

(On Dallas' hospitality) "It's awesome, the people are great. I had a chance to go to an awesome restaurant last night, had a great dinner and everyone is really nice. It's a great place to be. We enjoy it."

(On his pregame meal) "Light. Gotta eat light."

(On if he has changed) "Just like I said at the top of the interview, just being calmer, just enjoying the day, waking up, counting your blessings and just being thankful for the day and thanking God for letting me wake up and have this opportunity. I mean as tough as this could be, and sometimes is, I mean I was going to bring a Twix bar up here if I needed a minute and ever got a tough question. But still just enjoy this because how many people get this opportunity? Like I said, this could be my last time to ever sit on this podium in front of you guys and if it is, it is."

(On anxiety about answering questions) "I don't know about anxiety, just trying to be prepared for some kind of, trying to have an understanding of what the possibilities could be."

(On Terry Bradshaw) "Well, Terry is a guy when I got to the Steelers, you know about him. When you get here it's about four Super Bowls and about him being the man, so you know, I've always said since day one, I'm not trying to be Terry Bradshaw, I'm just trying to be me and trying to win like he did."

(On his favorite reality show) "I don't watch reality TV other than the T-Ocho show."

(On if he got the bug that's going around) "I got it, absolutely. I lost my voice before the Jets game and now working its way up to my nose, I can't breathe. Everybody, I wanna know who started it, we're trying to find the culprit."

(On the ownership) I don't know the other owners, but in my opinion, that's where it starts with us. It was The Chief before I got there, I didn't know The Chief but Art Rooney and Dan Rooney are the best, and I think it starts with the top.

(On only having to hire three head coaches) "Yes, yes and yes, probably a little bit of all of it. I think part of it is just having faith in the person. There's times I'm sure in Coach [Bill] Cowher's long tenure there and I'm sure Coach [Chuck] Noll too that they struggled. And when most owners would fire the coach, I think they stood by him and said, ‘We're going to give you another chance and another chance,' and I think that speaks volumes of the Rooney family. That's just my opinion, to stand by them through thick and thin."

(On his faith) "Just going back to my faith, it's not like I found faith for the first time, it's just getting back to the way I was raised. It's such a blessing. That's where the inner peace starts is with your faith and my faith and like I said counting my blessings because every day is a blessing to be alive and to be able to do this."

(On the joy of being able to come back) "To have forgiveness, the ultimate forgiveness is awesome. To be able to just pray and to talk to, the main calmingness that I talked to was talking to God and reading the Bible before I came up here."

(On what Jesus Christ means to him) "Everything, honestly. Everything."

(On playing better when it counts) "I don't know what it is, I think it's probably the competitiveness, the drive to want to do whatever it takes to win the game that's on the line and the ball is in your hands, you wanna make the plays for your team and for your coach and the owner, everybody. You want to do it."

(On if it has always been that way) "I think so, in all sports, football, basketball and baseball, I want to have the ball in my hand at the end of the game because I want it to be on my shoulders. I don't do it for the glory, I don't want to be a hero, I just want to win the game."

(On Jay Cutler) "Well I don't know Jay very well but I would just tell him to just keep your head up. You know your body, you know what you're going through, you know all those things. People are going to attack you for whatever reason if he's hurt or not. I think he just needs to keep his head up and stay focused on what he needs to do to get healthy and get ready for another season because that's all he can do is to get ready for the next day and the next season."

(On playing better when it counts) "I don't know what it is, I think it's probably the competitiveness, the drive to want to do whatever it takes to win the game that's on the line and the ball is in your hands. You want to make the plays for your team and for your coach and the owner, everybody. You want to do it."

(On if he has always been that way) "I think so. In all sports, football, basketball and baseball, I want to have the ball in my hand at the end of the game because I want it to be on my shoulders. I don't do it for the glory, I don't want to be a hero, I just want to win the game."

(On Jay Cutler) "Well, I don't know Jay very well but I would just tell him to just keep your head up. You know your body, you know what you're going through, you know all those things. People are going to attack you for whatever reason if he's hurt or not. I think he just needs to keep his head up and stay focused on what he needs to do to get healthy and get ready for another season, because that's all he can do is to get ready for the next day and the next season."

(On other players taking shots at Cutler) "We talk so much about a fraternity, and especially quarterbacks, I don't think I ever have or I ever will talk negatively about a quarterback, just because you know what you go through and you know what they go through. So you kind of expect NFL players to feel the same way in general, but everyone is opinionated and you're allowed to have that opinion in this country, and that's what is awesome about the country. That's why I won't say anything about Jay because he's a quarterback and I know what he's going through and it's tough. Especially in a city that is passionate about sports, which Chicago obviously is, very passionate."

(On being a role model) "I want to be a guy that people look up to and I know it takes time to get that back but I want to be the best someday husband and father and grandfather hopefully if I'm blessed enough to be, and it starts with faith. You have to be able to instill that in your kids the same way it was instilled in me."

(On Byron Leftwich) "It's great. It's funny because we walk in the locker room and his locker is next to mine number-wise and a quarterback, and I said ‘it looks kind of familiar doesn't it, to Tampa,' because I have him and Charlie and Dennis who are literally like coaches. They almost coach me more than my quarterback coach does and that's not a knock on Randy [Fitchner] but when I come off the field they're usually the first ones I talk to, those are the guys that are going over the pictures with me, talking about game plans and it's great to have those guys and especially Byron with the experience he has playing this game. Plus he's a MAC guy, that's awesome.

(On so many players from the MAC in this game) "It's a dominant conference, that's what it says. 16 of us I think? That's awesome. That just shows that the MAC, and Miami University the Redhawks are becoming a dominant conference and should be considered in the BCS talk."

(On if Coach Hoeppner is with him) "I talk to him every game, literally every game I will talk to him. Whether it's reminiscing talking about a game we had in college or just being there. I miss him a lot."

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Check back here, as well as at Behind the Steel Curtain, Acme Packing Company, and SB Nation's NFL Hub for round-the-clock Super Bowl news, notes and previews.

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Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay Packers Tuesday Press Conference -- Aaron Rodgers Quotes

Goodness, gracious. I don't know how the guy does it. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers fields more asinine questions than anybody in the NFL. It sure seems that way to me at least. Rodgers is constantly being asked about Brett Favre, the transition to a new era in Green Bay, blah blah blah. Must be infuriating for a guy that's been unwaveringly polite but also consistently uninterested in providing any sort of interesting fodder when it comes to talking about Favre or his relationship with the former Packers legend.

As you'll see below, Rodgers couldn't escape the questions during his Tuesday press conference. Sandwiched in between all the unimaginative questions though are plenty of interesting tidbits worth reading as we continue with our Super Bowl week coverage here on SB Nation Pittsburgh.

Other Monday/Tuesday Press Conference Transcriptions:

QUOTES FROM PACKERS MEDIA DAY

QB Aaron Rodgers

 

(On the lowest point of the season for him) "For me this season it was Wednesday and Thursday of the (New England) Patriots week because I had a concussion from the Detroit (Lions) game and had to go home. I'd been sent home from school before, but never from work. So it was tough to be away from the guys - I really missed them, missed being around them, missed the meetings, missed practice, and eventually had to miss the game. So that was the toughest couple of days there."

(On what he looks forward to the most this week) "The game. I enjoy this right here (the media session), but I get paid to play, not to talk to the media."

(On if he called Brett Favre or if Brett Favre called him to talk about expectations for the Super Bowl) "No."

(On his favorite quote or scripture or verse that gives him the most inspiration) "I've got a few. The whole psalm 91, and also John 10:10."

(On Bart Starr and what inspiration it has been to play for the same organization all these years) "Yeah, it's great to be able to play for the Packers. It's a privilege. Bart has been incredible to me - in the last three years especially - with the e-mails and conversations that I've been able to share with him. He's an incredible man and a guy I'd love to model my career after."

(On Cowboys Stadium and what he hopes the environment will do for the Packers offense) "I hope it's great. I hope it's great for our pass game. We've played pretty well in the domes. That's a pretty big screen up there - I'm sure (Packers punter) Tim (Masthay) will be trying to hit that in warm-ups. But this is a great stadium, a great set-up, and we're excited."

(On what the whole Super Bowl experience has been like thus far) "It's been great. It's nice to get out of Green Bay and get down here to this experience. Last night was exciting getting off the plane and seeing all the people there. It's a special feeling. This is what you dream about as a kid growing up in Northern California, watching the (San Francisco) 49ers win all those Super Bowls. It's special to be a part of this now."

(On what job he would like to have if he wasn't in the NFL) "I think if I wasn't playing in the NFL I would like to be in the military - my grandfather served proudly in World War II. So either in the military or some sort of sports connection, like coaching or administration."

(On what his expectations are for his first media day) "I'm just trying to get through this 60 minutes without saying anything stupid."

(On if Charles Woodson had any media day advice for him) "No, not really. He just basically said, ‘Don't say anything stupid.'"

(On who owns the Lombardi Trophy historically - the Packers or the Steelers) "I think they've (the Steelers) won it six times and we've (the Packers) only have three, so they have us beat right now."

(On the Lombardi Trophy being named after a Green Bay Packers coach) "Of course, well Green Bay is ‘Title Town'."

(On who the better quarterback is, him or Ben Roethlisberger) "[Laughter] I don't make those decisions or answers. I'll let you figure that out."

(On the toughness of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense) "Yeah, they have a great defense. They're very well coached. Coach (Dick) LeBeau is one of the greatest coaches this league has ever seen and he gets them prepared every week to play. It's going to be a tough challenge for us and we'll be ready."

(On the success the Arizona Cardinals offense had on their 2008 Super Bowl run and if that is a reference point for the Green Bay Packers offense against the Steelers) "Yeah, I've seen that film. That's one of the films that we watched this week - I've seen a ton of film. I mean you have to look at that, but also realize that was two years ago. The film we're going to focus on is more the film from this season."

(On talking to Steve Young and Kurt Warner earlier in the week and what they specifically told him about this week) "They said, ‘Good luck with the distractions.' I think that's what the biggest thing is, is trying to manage your schedule and keep it as similar as you can to what it would be like in a normal week. There's going to be a bunch of different things pulling at you - stuff like this (media session), your family once they get in. Thankfully the charter doesn't come in until Thursday. There's going to be a lot of different things that could disrupt your week if you let them, but they said just focus on keeping your preparation the same."

(On how his faith has helped him on his journey from a three-year backup to Brett Favre to where he is today) "I was fortunate enough to be raised in a Christian home and modeled what a healthy relationship looks like and what a God-centered life looks like as well. It's been a big part of my life. In the tough times I lean on him and my family, but it's been a lot of good times as well."

(On how faith has helped him lead the Green Bay Packers) "I just try to follow Jesus' example, leading by example. One of my favorite quotes is by St. Francis of Assisi, who said, ‘Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.'"

(On what the bus ride was like to Cowboys Stadium) "A lot of guys we're sleeping [laughter]. It was a slow ride. We've been in weather like this. This was nice to be in this kind of venue. I'm happy to be here."

(On the biggest thing he learned from Brett Favre) "I think consistency. The best players in this league are consistent week-in and week-out, and that's something I've tried to do. It's important to be consistent not only with your preparation each week, but with your personality and trying to be the same guy every day in practice that you are on the field on Sundays."

(On what the biggest challenge will be for him this week) "I think just trying to keep on a schedule. It's important, like I've heard. You just want to stay on the same schedule you've been doing the entire season, so I'm going to try to stay as close to that as I can."

(On if his faith helps gives him the confidence he needs to go out and play every Sunday) "Well, that, and the preparation. I spend a lot of time preparing each week in the film room and at practice, I've got a great quarterbacks coach (Tom Clements). We watch film of the other team, we watch film of ourselves, and he's highly critical. He's also a great teacher. We're always looking for ways to improve."

(On the keys to victory) "I think the key to coming out with a victory here on Sunday is going to be the turnover ratio. You look at the last 10 Super Bowls and eight of the nine teams that have won the turnover ratio have won the game. So you can't turn it over against them and expect to win."

(On the international attention the Super Bowl receives) "I love the global nature of the NFL and the fact that it's spreading all over the world. We appreciate our fans everywhere. Thank you."

(On working out with Todd Durkin) "Todd Durkin deserves a lot of credit. He trained Drew Brees last year - he's pumping his chest up a little bit. Todd is a great trainer. He's really helped out myself and a lot of guys over the past couple years and I enjoy working with him."

(On how much time he gets to train with Durkin in the offseason) "Well, I get a month in the summertime and it depends on what happens Sunday how much time I'll have (with him)."

(On Jay Cutler) "Yeah, Jay and I are buddies. I really felt like some of the comments (toward Cutler's toughness) were definitely inappropriate."

(On if he thinks all the steps with concussion recovery are necessary) "I think it's a process that makes you be honest with the way you're feeling. I think the most important thing as a player and as a team is to make sure that you're not putting your player, or yourself, at risk by going on the field. I think the steps that the NFL has put in place are great. The testing - there's no way to skew the results on the testing. If you're not ready to go, like I wasn't ready to go against New England, then you're not going to play."

(On the transition the 49ers made from Joe Montana to Steve Young and if he would feel that same sense of fulfillment that Young felt after stepping in for Montana and winning a Super Bowl) "Not really. It would be a fulfillment of this season and nothing more. I think there's obviously other correlations that people are going to take depending on how we do, but I'm just focused on this season. It would be a fulfillment of a long up and down, adverse season with a great ending."

(On if he knows how unusual it is for a guy to step into someone's shoes and continue to make that team successful) "Yeah, I've been told it's pretty unusual. But I think I'm fortunate to be surrounded by a number of very talented men - coaches and players."

(On what type of relationship he had with Brett Favre) "We had a great relationship, a working relationship, and I enjoyed the time we got to spend together."

(On Green Bay's wide receivers) "My receivers make me look really good. I've got five really talented guys who I'd match up against any guy in the League. Greg Jennings is as good as any receiver (in the League). Donald (Driver), Jordy (Nelson), James (Jones), and Brett (Swain) all have a lot of talent and different things that they can do for us. It's tough for us to get them all on the field at the same time, but we try to draw plays for each of those guys every week."

(On if it if fair to compare the Packers offense to a type of Los Angeles Lakers fast-break offense of the 1980s) "[Laughter] No, I don't think it is."

(On teams that have lost a great quarterback and struggled to return to the Super Bowl and how he responded to that situation) "First of all, it takes more than one player to get to the Super Bowl. I knew once I came here that we had the nucleus in place to make a run when I became the starter. It's just a matter of executing and bringing in a couple more pieces. We brought in two big studs in 2009 who have made a huge impact on our team in B.J. (Raji) and Clay (Matthews) and we've added guys to the mix this year. A lot of guys we didn't really count on to start the season played big roles (for us)."

(On when the last time he spoke to Favre was) "This year at the Metrodome."

(On the Green Bay fans) "We've got incredible fans. They travel well. We had like 3,000 fans at the airport when we came back from Chicago, which was incredible. We had a bunch of fans see us off on Monday. It's a special place to play and I'm hoping that a lot of them will get down here."

(On why Green Bay is a special place to play) "I think the first thing you look at is there's no owner, so a lot of the fans consider themselves owners and personally invested - a lot of them are personally invested in the team. It's a college-like atmosphere in Green Bay. Everywhere you go you see green and gold, it's a first name basis, and there's just a special connection that's always been there between the players and the fans."

(On what makes people want to play in Green Bay) "[Laughter] Do they? I think you've got to give a lot of credit to our personnel staff. We got to have one of the top number of drafted players on our active roster and a lot of that goes to the scouting that those guys do. We haven't had a ton of big name free agents come in - other than Charles (Woodson) and Ryan Pickett - in the last few seasons, but it's a special place to play."

(On his relationship with Steve Young) "I reached out to Steve when I became a starter - among some other guys, too. I wanted to talk a lot of guys who'd been there and had success in the NFL. Steve obviously had a very similar being a guy who followed a legend. He's been great. Steve has been a great guy to lean on and he's made time for me and somebody who I really appreciate."

(On if he ever looks back on the year he was drafted and think about what could have been if he was drafted higher) "Things definitely could have been different. There were a lot of teams that passed up on me, but I'm just fortunate to be able to be in a situation where I got to wait for three years and learn and grow as a player and become a better player. Then when my opportunity came I knew I had to play well."

(On what it felt like to be named the starter in Green Bay) "I put a lot of hard work in. I think they knew what kind of person they were getting, and at the same time I hope they knew what kind of player they were getting as well. It gave me a lot of confidence that they stood by me through everything that happened. It was a trying time for myself and the organization, but the fact that they continued to stand by me and believe in me was definitely big for my confidence."

(On what his mindset was like during the time before he was named the starter in Green Bay) "I just wanted to be honest through the entire time. It was a difficult situation. It was tough to stand up every day in front of media not knowing what questions were coming at me and how the fans were going to react that day in practice. But the whole time the organization stood by me and they told the truth, and I told the truth, and we moved on together."

(On Donald Driver being more excited than others, knowing that this may be one of his last chances at a Super Bowl) "We all are, but especially a guy like Donald. You never know, this could be your last opportunity. Obviously we feel like we have a three, four, or five-year window right here to make a lot of these. But this is a special opportunity for him (Driver), Charles (Woodson), Chad (Clifton), and for a lot of our older players. We've put the time in and hopefully we can get them a win on Sunday."

(On if he ever doubted himself when he stepped in as the starter at Green Bay) "No."

(On seeing Kurt Warner taking the stage at the Super Bowl and what he has taken from that in the past) "Yeah, Kurt's a great friend and a great guy. He's definitely exuded a ton of class in his career, on and off the field. One of the things that struck me about him is the way that he honored his family and the past teams that he played for in his retirement speech. That was something special I think."

(On Troy Polamalu) "Troy's a great player. Definitely he's deserving of Defensive Player of the Year. He had an incredible season. Any time you play a guy like that you have to find where he is on the field. Baltimore didn't find where he was and he had a sack-fumble that ended up winning the game against them late in the season. He's a guy you got to account for. It's going to be most important for us protection-wise to figure out who's coming and find a way to block it up or get the ball out because they do a great job of disguising their blitzes and playing different coverages behind those blitzes."

 

Check back here, as well as at Behind the Steel Curtain, Acme Packing Company, and SB Nation's NFL Hub for round-the-clock Super Bowl news, notes and previews.

 

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Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay Packers Tuesday Press Conference -- Dom Capers Quotes

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers are again busy interacting the the media onslaught that has descened upon Dallas for Super Bowl XLV. Last night, we featured the press conference quotes of various Steelers players, as well as Mike Tomlin's lengthy chat with the press. Let's change gears slightly and hear from Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who took to the podium on Tuesday. Capers of course is a familiar name in Steeler Nation. He coordinated the Steelers' defense in the early from '92-'94, which coincided with the three years Dick LeBeau was orchestrating the defensive backfield for the Steelers defense following his long stint as the defensive coordinator in Cincinnati.  Needless to say, the two men know each other quite well. They're not just former colleagues, but good friends that stay in contact to this day. And you better believe that both look at tape of the others defense to pluck ideas.

Let's see what Capers had to say on Tuesday about his Packers defense, facing Ben Roethlisberger and the versatile Steelers offense, and coaching in his first Super Bowl against a team that he was once proudly associated with.

Other Monday Press Conference Transcriptions:

QUOTES FROM GREEN BAY PACKERS MEDIA DAY

Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers

(On the planning that is involved in trying to stop Ben Roethlisberger) "It's extremely difficult. The thing that Ben does, he's got great pocket instincts, he's big and strong and obviously hard to get off his feet. He can extend the play as well as anybody in the National Football League and you can have a defense designed where you have a free guy, and many times that free guy doesn't get him (Roethlisberger) to the ground. And the more people you're committing to the rush, now you're stringing out a little bit in coverage and his receivers do a great job when he extends the play of uncovering. With a guy like Hines Ward, they've worked together so long that he knows when Ben is going to step out of the pocket or move to the right and Ben can throw anywhere on the field. It makes him extremely hard to defend."

 

(On facing Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau) "Well, Dick and I are very good friends. When we first went to Pittsburgh, we roomed together initially. We're both from the same part of the country, both small-town Ohio guys. I have a great amount of admiration for Dick. When you think about what he's done, I don't think anybody else has done it, in terms of being a player who was just inducted into the Hall of Fame and now a coach. This guy has done it for over 50 years, and he's done it on a high level, so there's nothing but respect from me for Dick."

 

(On his defensive philosophy) "I think our philosophy is based in number one, trying to stop the run and trying to make the game a one-dimensional game. We feel we have many different things that can attack and pressure the quarterback, and we know this is a quarterback-driven league now. If you let the quarterback sit there and he can do everything on time, then it's normally going to be a long game in this league. You have to be able to do something to try to disrupt the quarterback's rhythm, and, if you can do that, it leads to being able to take the ball away. These games, if you've got a 60-play game, they come down to two, three, four plays and who makes those plays. The more you increase your opportunities to make those plays, the better your chances of winning."

 

(On how he chose the right players to fit into his defensive scheme) "We've made the transition in two years, going from a 4-3 to a 3-4, and your defense is always going to show the flavor of where your playmakers are. I think you have to adapt what you're doing to the personnel you have at the time. We were a different defense last year than we've been this year. Last year we drafted a young linebacker in Clay Matthews, put him on the right side and had to get him ready to play. This year we've put him all over the place. A year ago we moved Charles Woodson all over the place. You just have to try to feature the guys you think have a good chance of winning one-on-one battles and of making plays for you. So we're still in the process. That is probably the biggest difference between us and Pittsburgh. They've been running the same defense since about 1992."

 

(On making his defense unpredictable) "When people ask me the value of the 3-4, I think you can be more unpredictable in the 3-4 because you've got more people on the field who can rush or drop. So if we're going to rush four, we can rush any combination of those four linebackers, and when we rush five, then there are a lot of combinations having two of your linebackers involved."

 

(On the evolution of the zone blitz and the 3-4 scheme) "Everything goes in cycles and if you stay in this league long enough, you'll see everything go full circle. I know when I first came into the league, there were an awful lot of 4-3 teams and we had a tremendous advantage at that time because there were only three or four teams that were running a 3-4, so we were looking for different personnel than they (the 4-3 teams) were looking for. Really, when we first started in Pittsburgh back in '92, we had an advantage because of the type of people we were looking for. Unfortunately, now there are more people running the 3-4, so now there are more people looking for similar type of personnel. I think that it starts with adapting what you're doing to the personnel you have, and then trying to gradually acquire the personnel that fit what you want to do. If you do it the other way, you make a mistake. We're a different defense today than we were a year ago because we have a few different players. Then through the course of the season you can look at our team and see we've played six different people at right outside linebacker. We've had to adapt as we've gone through the course of the season to the people we've had available that week because of injury situations."

 

(On helping to develop new coaches under his guidance) "I know the value of having a good staff. We have an outstanding staff at Green Bay right now. Over the years, when you go back to the early ‘90s and there was myself and Dick LeBeau and Marvin Lewis on the staff there (at Pittsburgh), you see Marvin go to Baltimore and pretty much installs a lot of the defense at Baltimore and you know the guys that have come out of that Baltimore situation. It branches out and we've been fortunate to have two guys on this staff now who played in this defense back in the early ‘90s in Pittsburgh in Kevin Greene and Darren Perry. It's a lot of fun for me when I can sit in the staff room there and refer back to when those guys were sitting out in the media room as players. They can relate to it and they do a great job of relating it back to our players."

 

(On comparing the 3-4 used in Green Bay to the version used in Pittsburgh) "I think a lot of the foundation is the same and a lot of terminology would probably be the same. The difference is that they've been using it for years and years and years and have been drafting for that scheme. When they get a player that they are getting ready to lose or who is starting to get some age, they have a young guy who can step in. To me, that's a real credit to them that they've kept that system the same. They've drafted for that system and know exactly the kind of player they are looking for. That's why they've been incredibly successful over the years. I hope that we're moving in that direction in Green Bay. I know our first draft, getting Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji were two key components. When we traded up to get Clay and drafted B.J., both of those guys have been extremely productive for us this year. We were fortunate to have a player like Charles Woodson who we use in multiple areas and who gives us flexibility in building our defense. But we're still getting there."

 

(On still running a successful defense despite injuries) "It's been a lot of fun. We've had a lot of young players step in there. The veterans have done a good job of letting them know that if they go on that field, that they're going to be held accountable to do their job. It's a credit to our assistant coaches who have gotten the guys ready. We've had guys come in, like Erik Walden and Howard Green who came in the week we played the Jets and they both played key roles in that Jets game. Erik Walden, at that time, only knew two defenses that we could play and by the end of the season against the Bears he got NFC Defensive Player of the Week, and has been a real key factor along the stretch here."

 

(On Outside Linebackers Coach Kevin Greene) "He's done an outstanding job. I had the good fortune of having Kevin as a player at both Pittsburgh and Carolina. He led the League in sacks his last year in Pittsburgh and his first year in Carolina in 1996. He always played the game with passion and always took more film home to study and prepare. He's carried those same qualities as a coach. He takes an awful lot of pride in teaching these young guys. He can relate to them because he's been there. He's got the most sacks of any linebacker in the history of the League and he approaches his coaching job with the same passion he did as a player. I think his players reflect that on Sundays."

 

(On whether he has to prepare to lose coaching staff due to Green Bay's success) "You don't ever want to lose anybody, but I'm a realist and I understand that these guys are very good at what they do. Eventually they are going to get their opportunities to go and take the next step. That's just the way this business works. But I know that right now they are totally focused on doing whatever they can to help the Packers win this Super Bowl."

 

(On whether he thinks the talent available for 3-4 schemes will decrease due to its popularity in the League) "History will probably tell you that. If you look over the years, you'll see that it goes in cycles. It kind of depends on who the hot teams are, because, as coaches, we spend our offseason studying teams that have success with things. Then, normally, you see more of those things show up the next year. I've seen it back when we first started doing some things and very few people were doing them. Then, two or three years later everyone was doing them and they weren't nearly as effective. You have to stay on top of things and have new little things each year that you think might complement what you're doing."

 

(On Charles Woodson) "He's a versatile guy. First of all, he's very football smart. He has great instincts. He's a guy that, if he's around the ball, is one of the best tacklers in terms of tackling and getting the ball out. He's very strong with his hands. He's got great vision and instincts. With a guy like that, you want to keep him around the action as much as you can. In the (past) two years, we've moved him around. He's played true corner for us, he's played inside at nickel, he's played dime, he's played safety and we've blitzed him a lot. He gives our defense great flexibility and I think that is indicative of a year ago when he got Defensive Player of the Year. He understands the game and looks at a lot of tape. He's a good influence on our younger players and helps them learn how to prepare. He's a tough guy."

 

(On comparing Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers) "I think (the two have) different styles. Ben is bigger, stronger, but Aaron has good instincts and is a good athlete who can get outside the pocket. You've seen him extend plays and he's got the arm strength to throw it down the field. Both of these guys are concerning for the defenses in terms of trying to keep them in the pocket and trying not to let one of the receivers run through your coverage down the field."

 

(On having larger defensive ends) "Our game has become such a game of situation substitution. Obviously, the bigger those guys are, they aren't going to be your fleet-footed guys getting up the field and rushing the passer most of the time, but there are certain times you want to be able to play the run and keep people from knocking you off the ball. To me, nothing is more frustrating than when people are running the ball at you four, five, six yards a clip at you and no matter what you call, you don't have an answers because you don't have enough girth up front. We like the fact that we have three big guys to put up there if we need them."

 

(On the new overtime rules) "It certainly is something that, from a game-management standpoint, you have to discuss and talk about. It's something that both teams, I'm sure, have had to spend time talking about, and if it comes down to that then, yes, it will have an impact on the game."

 

Check back here, as well as at Behind the Steel Curtain, Acme Packing Company, and SB Nation's NFL Hub for round-the-clock Super Bowl news, notes and previews.

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Steelers Vs. Packers: Super Bowl XLV Preview (Series And Game Overview)

We're almost exactly five days away from the kickoff of Super Bowl XLV between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. Both teams have arrived safely in Dallas, and have completed the first of many sessions with the media. The two teams will practice for the first time on Wednesday, but for the remainder of today, they'll continue interacting with the incredible swarm of media that has descended upon Dallas this week. I unfortunately had my flight into Dallas canceled today, so I won't be down there until tomorrow afternoon.

What follows is the first of several game previews as we countdown the hours to kickoff. We'll get into positional matchups, as well as outline our keys to a Steelers victory, but let's begin with an overview of the two historic franchises' series history, notes on Sunday's match up, and season stats for both squads.

 

SUPER BOWL XLV: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2011

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS-AFC NORTH (14-4) AT GREEN BAY PACKERS-NFC NORTH (13-6)

 

SERIES

 

 

STEELERS

PACKERS

LEADER (REG. SEASON)

 

18-14

STREAKS (REG. SEASON)

7 of past 9

 

COACHES VS. OPP.

(REG. & POSTSEASON)

Tomlin: 1-0

McCarthy: 0-1

COACHES PLAYOFF RECORD

5-1

4-2

VS. COMMON OPP.

(REG. SEASON)

Pit.: 3-2 (Atl. 1-0, Buf. 1-0, Mia. 1-0, NE 0-1, NYJ 0-1)

GB: 2-3 (Atl. 0-1, Buf. 1-0, Mia. 0-1, NE 0-1, NYJ 1-0)

PLAYOFF RECORD

33-19

28-16

LAST WEEK

W 24-19 vs. Jets

W 21-14 at Bears

LAST GAME (REG. SEASON)

12/20/09: Packers 36 at Steelers 37. Pit. QB Ben Roethlisberger completes game-winning TD pass to WR Mike Wallace as time expires. Roethlisberger (503, 3 TDs) & Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (383, 3 TDs) pass for combined 886 yds. & 6 TDs w/ 0 INTs.

LAST GAME AT SITE

(REG. SEASON)

N/A

LAST PLAYOFF

N/A

BROADCAST

FOX (5:00 PM CT): Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver & Chris Myers (Field reporters). Westwood One Radio: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Mark Malone & James Lofton (Field reporters). SIRIUS: 124 (WW1), 123 (Pit.), 125 (GB). XM: 124 (WW1), 102 (Pit.), 103 (GB).

 

REGULAR SEASON STAT LEADERS

 

PASSING

Roethlisberger: 240-389-3,200-17-5-97.0 (3C)

    Rodgers: 312-475-3,922 (3C)-28 (T3C)-11-101.2 (1C)

RUSHING

Mendenhall: 324-1,273-3.9-13 (T2L)

B. Jackson: 190-703-3.7-3

RECEIVING

Wallace: 60-1,257 (3C)-21.0-10 (T3C)

Jennings: 76-1,265 (2C)-16.6-12 (T1C)

OFFENSE

345.3

358.1

TAKE/GIVE

+17 (2L)

+10 (2C)

DEFENSE

    276.8 (2L)

309.1 (2C)

SACKS

Harrison: 10.5

Matthews: 13.5 (2C)

INTs

Polamalu: 7 (T2L)

T. Williams: 6 (T2C)

PR

Brown: 5.8

T. Williams: 8.0

KR

Sanders: 25.1

Nelson: 22.5

PUNTING

Kapinos: 41.9

Masthay: 43.9

KICKING

Suisham: 61 (19/19 PAT; 14/15 FG)

Crosby: 112 (46/46 PAT; 22/28 FG)

 

Check back here, as well as at Behind the Steel Curtain, Acme Packing Company, and SB Nation's NFL Hub for round-the-clock Super Bowl news, notes and previews.

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Super Bowl XLV: Pittsburgh Steelers Monday Press Conference -- Hines Ward Quotes

The six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers arrived in Dallas on Monday to begin their preparations in earnest for Super Bowl XLV. On Monday, after checking into their hotel, the Steelers conducted their first of several press conferences of the week. I’ll be in Dallas as of Tuesday night, and will do my best to supplement the outstanding job the press does with some unique coverage of my own. For now, let’s continue with our review of what various members of the Steelers had to say during their Monday press conference.  Next up: Hines Ward.

Other Monday Press Conference Transcriptions:

QUOTES FROM PITTSBURGH STEELERS PRESS CONFERENCE

WIDE RECEIVER HINES WARD

 

(On the number one thing that they coach the younger players about)

"You know, just what to expect. You get all the gifts sitting in the room. I think a lot of guys kind of over packed, really not knowing. They were just excited to be here; for a lot of guys, some anxiety. When you get here, you get the police escort and the helicopter following you and all the guys have the cameras and whatnot. It's still fun to see the younger guys and also fun to see the veteran guys. I still enjoy it."

(On the irony of going for their seventh Super Bowl in Cowboys Stadium)

"It is kind of ironic. The two organizations that have had their wars over the years, their battles over the years. For us to be playing in Dallas' stadium for a chance to win the Super Bowl is kind of ironic, but it would be a great thing to do."

(On his thoughts regarding the offensive linemen wearing Flozell Adams Michigan State jerseys on the plane)

"It's awesome. For a guy who spent his whole career here in Dallas, that's just the respect involved. There are always a lot of storylines on our team, but Flo game to our team with an opportunity to try and play in a Super Bowl. Now he'll get that opportunity and hopefully we can win it for him."

(On the Packers being named the favorites to win the Super Bowl)

"We like to play as the underdog-as long as we keep winning. We know they have a great team. You just have to be good on that particular day. Whatever team does that is going to win the Super Bowl."

(On what LB James Farrior gives the team that is not seen on the field)

"He's the heart and soul, our emotional leader. We have a bunch of leaders, but James comes around each and every Sunday and he's a true professional. He works hard at it. He teaches the other guys. He's still out there making plays for our team. James Farrior is kind of the unsung hero of our linebacking crew. You have James and Wood (LaMarr Woodley) on the side and Lawrence Timmons is an emerging superstar. Right there, every time we look at defensive plays, you're always seeing James right there making plays. I love the guy."

(On what the most powerful thing Farrior has said pregame)

"He's just a straight shooter. He's always just saying we have to be the most physical team. He's always challenging everybody and he justifies that each and every Sunday he steps on the field. You're looking at this guy making some crazy plays play after play after play. After 14 years in the league, he can still play at a high level like he's doing. We're happy for him. He's our superstar."

(On how much of this team is Tomlin's team than two years ago)

"I think this team is kind of different because of all the adversity that we had to go through. Not having Ben (Roethlisberger) there for the first four games, having Troy (Polamalu) missing three games, Aaron Smith out, playing musical chairs with the offensive linemen, (Tomlin) has done an phenomenal job of just plugging in guys and putting them in and that's what the part of the 53-man roster is all about. It was a great job by Coach Tomlin and Kevin Colbert, our player personnel guy. Our hats are off to those guys. They are the reason we all put it together and are playing in the Super Bowl."

(On if it's ironic that Packers coach Mike McCarthy grew up in Pittsburgh and now is facing the Steelers)

"It's a story. I know he has relatives and they're kind of, ‘Will you be cheering for the Steelers or cheering for him?' It's a great storyline. It's kind of ironic for him having grown up in Pittsburgh and coaching in his first Super Bowl against a team he admired growing up as a child. It's a great storyline. It's one of the many stories of the Super Bowl."

 

(On having more Super Bowl experience than the Packers)

"We don't get caught up in the experience in that we have more experience. You still have to play the game. For us, it's a comfort level of being here before. A lot of guys have experienced this. At the end of the day, it doesn't give us an advantage or disadvantage. You still have to play the game. If you look at the Giants, a lot of their players, when they played the Patriots, had never played in the Super Bowl, but they went out there and got the job done. I just think the familiarity of what we go through in the Super Bowl, it just depends on how each person can take it. Some people can get overwhelmed by it. Some people are comfortable with it. I think we have a lot of guys who are comfortable with it."

(On how much motivation they get from being the underdog)

"That's not our motivation. Our motivation is to win the Lombardi Trophy, regardless of if we're underdogs or not underdogs. We're not a flashy team. Not having (Maurkice) Pouncey doesn't help either. You still have to play the game regardless of if you're underdogs. That's just part of the story and something to talk about. We as players, we don't make the odds. We still have to go out there and play the game. We've been the underdogs kind of for the past two weeks it seems like. No one picked us. Coach Cowher picked the Jets against us. It still doesn't matter to us. We still have to play the game."

(On if there is a silver lining to Ben Roethlisberger's suspension in that it helped team chemistry)

"That's what has made this year and this whole team so special. By not having Ben, a lot of people wrote us off and really didn't give us credit. Dennis Dixon came in and did a phenomenal job. Charlie Batch came in and did a phenomenal job. We found a way to be 3-1. We were maybe a minute and ten seconds away from starting out 4-0. Now you have Ben coming back and he had to prove everybody wrong, that he's a changed man. To have that hunger and desire and determination that he wants to go out and he wants to lead this team and have another great year, he's done that. I think by going through that it made us a closer team, because we had different guys stepping up. That's the reason that we're here."

(On if he thinks the League viewed the Steelers differently than the rest of the League in regards to fines and suspensions this year)

"I don't know. You just look at some of the fines that James Harrison had. They're good football plays. I think what the League is trying to do-it's a fine line between trying to protect the players and still playing this game, a violent game as it is. We don't get caught up in fines. Like I said, Coach Tomlin tells us to continue playing the way we've always played and move on from there. As players like James, myself and some of the other guys, we're going to continue to play like we've always been playing because if we don't, then we're cheating this team and cheating this organization by not going out there and playing our style of football."

(On why Ben Roethlisberger is not viewed in the same top echelon as other elite quarterbacks)

"It's the style of play. Just listening to the media, it's kind of ‘backyard' play. I thought to be determined as a great quarterback is all wins and losses and what you've done in the postseason and what you've done in the Super Bowl. I don't think anybody on that list can sit there and have just as many wins and Super Bowl wins other than (Tom) Brady that's out there. We love him. He's our great quarterback. That's a question you have to ask yourselves. Do you put Ben in the top echelon? It will always be a great debate about that. We as players, one thing I know about him is that he's a winner. Every time that guy is in my huddle, it's another great opportunity to win a ball game. I think the guy has what, ten postseason wins? There are a lot of guys that have a worse postseason record than he does and they're on that list above him. The guy has won two Super Bowls and is playing in his third. I don't know what more you want out of your starting quarterback."

(On how much he has thought about the possibility of retirement)

"I haven't thought about that. The question that occurred during the week was if this was going to be the last game because of the lockout. To be honest, I haven't put any thought into it. I know Jerome (Bettis) went out on top. He won the game. The way Coach Tomlin has been taking care of me and stuff like that, I feel good. This is probably the first year in the last three or four years that I'm finally healthy at this point and being able to play in the postseason. I feel good. Whenever that time comes, trust me, I'll let you guys know. I don't foresee this being my last game."

(On if Coach Tomlin has adjusted his coaching from their last Super Bowl team)

"Well it's his team now. When he first inherited the team, a lot of those players were under Coach Cowher and did things Coach Cowher's way. Mike Tomlin was very militant when he came here. He wanted to see who would challenge his authority and he got rid of some of the guys that questioned his authority a little bit. He kept the guys that followed what he wanted. Once he got a full year or two of the guys he knows and sees everyday at practice, then he let up a little bit. He gave guys off time and stuff like that. I think guys love playing for him. He's just a pro's coach and he stands up for everybody."

(On how often they talked about the Super Bowl during the preseason)

"I think that's everyone. I think that's everybody's goal when you start training camp. Every time we get the opportunity to walk into our organization, we see six Lombardi Trophies. Expectations are very high in Pittsburgh. I remember winning the second Super Bowl and the next day the question was if we were going to win it again next year. That's what expectations are. Every year, we go into training camp, that's all we preach about: the Super Bowl. Some teams can talk about the Super Bowl, but they're just pretenders. Every year, we have a legitimate chance of making it to the playoffs and we all know once you make the playoffs and make a run, you get the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl."

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Super Bowl XLV: Pittsburgh Steelers Monday Press Conference -- Brett Keisel Quotes

The six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers arrived in Dallas on Monday to begin their preparations in earnest for Super Bowl XLV. On Monday, after checking into their hotel, the Steelers conducted their first of several press conferences of the week. I’ll be in Dallas as of Tuesday night, and will do my best to supplement the outstanding job the press does with some unique coverage of my own. For now, let’s continue with our review of what various members of the Steelers had to say during their Monday press conference.  Next up: Brett Keisel. 

Other Monday Press Conference Transcriptions:

 

QUOTES FROM PITTSBURGH STEELERS PRESS CONFERENCE

Defensive Lineman Brett Keisel

 

(On the genesis of his beard)

"The beard - the beard is why we're here. It's unleashed Super Bowl powers on our whole team and hopefully it can win us one more."

(On the beard's name)

"Just ‘The Beard.' There's no other beard that matches it, so it's just ‘The Beard.'

(On where he got the idea to grow the beard)

"I think it just came from Pittsburgh. We've got a great hockey team and they grow their playoff beards out and I saw those guys looking burly and thought, ‘You know what? After mini camp in June, I've got seven months until the Super Bowl and we're trying to win our seventh Super Bowl, so I'll see if I can let this thing (grow) for seven months and this is the result."

(On the beard's facebook page)

"Yeah, it's got its own facebook page. It's got a twitter page. Neither of them are run by me, but they became popular. We also have a T-shirt. It's pretty sweet."

(On if there are any problems with the beard)

"Yes. There are maintenance problems, issues with the mouthpiece (and) issues with the chin strap, but all of them are for the main goal which is to win the Super Bowl."

(On if the beard will be shaved)

"Yeah, it's coming off at some point. Hopefully we'll win (and) I can go home and pull the Lombardi (Trophy) out of the beard for all the fans to see and then I think I'll have to whack it off or my wife might leave me."

(On how his wife's put up with the beard)

"It's been good. She's been a great supporter throughout it all. She doesn't really remember the guy she married, but she gets to wake up to this every morning and at least get a chuckle. She gave me a razor for Christmas and it's still in the package, but I'll have to break that out eventually."

(On if the beard is his response to S Troy Polamalu and LB Clay Matthews' hair)

"Yeah, I'm thinning on top, so I had to do something to try and match those guys. I'm happy with how this looks."

(On what DE Ziggy Hood has brought to the team)

"He's done a great job. For a young kid to be able to come in and play as well as he's played says a lot about him. Our defense is very complicated. It took me about four years to grasp everything, so he's done it in two and not only do that, but fill in for a great, great Steeler in Aaron Smith. Those are tough shoes to fill, but he's done a great job and he's a big reason why we're sitting here today."

(On what impresses him about Hood)

"I think it's just his work ethic, mainly. The kid is a nonstop worker, no matter what he's doing. You can always find him in the weight room or studying film. That's what it takes at this level if you want to be a good D-lineman and he's done all those things."

(On if he knows Patriots OL Matt Light)

"I don't know him personally, but I do know of him. I know he grew a beard."

(On what he thought of Light's beard)

"I thought it was decent. I would maybe give him - I don't know - maybe one below mine, but it was decent. I didn't see his beard towards the end of their season, but when I saw him when he came into Pittsburgh, I was impressed."

(On if he wished he could grow a beard during his BYU days)

"All the time. BYU - that's where I went to college - and they have a strict honor code where you can grow a mustache or sideburns, so I always had a ‘stache or some sideburns and eventually I would get a little stubble. I think they have to loosen that up, maybe have a diesel day or diesel week everyone can let their beard (grow) for a month or so."

 

(On the length of his beard and maintenance)

"I don't know. I think it's at least four inches. I just shampoo and condition."

(On if this week is familiar since this is his third Super Bowl in the last six years)

"It is familiar. You know what to expect. You know how to divvy up tickets and (know it will be) a hard time telling family and friends that they can't come and stuff, but you know what to expect. You know what this is all about. You know what the media sessions are like. Hopefully that's an advantage for us. Will it be? I don't know, but I hope so."

(On if they have told the younger guys what to expect)

"We have. We've told the younger guys about what to expect and about how to manage their time. There are going to be a lot of people pulling at you and pulling you in different directions this week, and you have to remain with one thing and that's that we're here to win this ball game. If we can win it, a lot of great things will happen."

(On if the Steelers could take the "Team of the Decade" title away from the Patriots if they win a third Super Bowl.)

"I don't think so, not yet. I think we've done a good job of winning two Super Bowls. I don't know if you could describe us as a team of the decade because two out of 10 is not that great, but we'll take it. Three of six is good. I'm not saying that I'm not happy with where we're at. I think we've got a lot of great players in there that could possibly bring up a discussion about that. As of now, I think that we're a good team and we're trying to be great."

(On why the defense responds so well to Dick LeBeau)

"I think it's just the way he carries himself, really. He comes into our meeting room every morning and he's got a big smile on his face. He's excited to be at work. He's excited to be around us. He's excited to have the job that he has and that all resonates down with all of us. Everyone feels his desire to be great and feeds off of it. I think when you have someone like that that is around you every day - and not only that, but he's a Hall of Fame player - you can't help but respect him and want to do everything you can for him."

(On if all the talk about the Jets and Packers' defenses riles them up)

"We're fine with it. We're fine being the underdogs. We've been in situations like that before, so it is what it is. We're the last two teams out of 32 and that's awesome in my opinion. To be able to be in this position, to win another Lombardi (Trophy), that's what you play for and a lot of players don't even get the opportunity to be here. So, we're excited about this and let the chips fall where they may on Sunday."

(On Aaron Rodgers)

"I think Aaron's the best. I think he's playing the best, including (Tom) Brady. I don't see (Brady) throwing the ball where it's five feet off the ground for 40 yards like Aaron does. He's done an amazing job with those guys. Obviously they've got weapons everywhere and I think it's going to be a big key in the game: getting to him and trying to get him rattled."

(On SI.com's column about Ben Roethlisberger's teammates coming to his defense)

"Well, I've always had Ben's back. Even when everything was going on, Ben and I have a very good relationship. We're close friends on and off the field. I think everyone was behind him. Everyone just didn't know how to respond to all the questions and all the scrutiny. So, obviously he's done a phenomenal job. He's turned a negative into a positive and he's playing for his third Super Bowl and that's great."

(On if there was skepticism when Mike Tomlin came in to coach an already established team)

"There was skepticism. He had never been a head coach. We had candidates inside our locker room at the time that I think a lot of people thought were going to get the job. I think people thought (Ken) Whisenhunt might get the job or Russ Grimm. So, when they brought in Coach Tomlin, he was a young guy. People told me that he coached with a lot of excitement and I didn't know what to think. I was at lunch one day and Mr. Dan Rooney came in there and was like, ‘Hey, have you met your coach yet?' And I said, ‘No.' And he said, ‘You're really going to like him,' and he was right."

 

Other Monday Press Conference Transcriptions:

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Super Bowl XLV: Pittsburgh Steelers Monday Press Conference -- James Farrior Quotes

The six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers arrived in Dallas on Monday to begin their preparations in earnest for Super Bowl XLV. On Monday, after checking into their hotel, the Steelers conducted their first of several press conferences of the week. I’ll be in Dallas as of tomorrow night, and will do my best to supplement the outstanding job the press does with some unique coverage of my own. For now, let’s check in and see what various members of the Steelers had to say on Monday, beginning with veteran inside linebacker James Farrior.


Other Monday Press Conference Transcriptions:

QUOTES FROM PITTSBURGH STEELERS PRESS CONFERENCE

Linebacker James Farrior

 

(On why Mike Tomlin has been a successful head coach)

"I think with him being such a young coach, he’s able to relate to the players better. He has a good grasp of how guys are feeling in the locker room. He walks around the locker room every day. I think he has a pretty good temperature of the team at all times."

(On if there was a process of Tomlin winning over the locker room)

"It’s always a process when you get a new coach in, but I don’t think it took a long time for him to establish himself and develop a good relationship with the players."

(On what’s unique about Tomlin)

"I think he does a good job of letting the coaches coach and the players play. He doesn’t try to do too much as far as micromanage everything."

(On if the Steelers are the team of the decade)
"I don’t really know. That’s for you guys to decide. We’re just here to try to win the game and we can worry about all the other stuff tomorrow."

(On how irritated the team was when LB James Harrison was fined early in the year)

"It was frustrating because I don’t think guys knew what the NFL was looking for. We didn’t know exactly what they were trying to avoid. It was especially frustrating for him, getting all those fines. It was a rocky road for a little while, but things calmed down as games progressed."

(On if there’s a disadvantage to having a team together for a long time)

"I don’t really see a whole lot of disadvantages except for things might get stale. But us being together, I think we’ve been able to build a strong relationship together."

(On if getting stale was a part of the team’s problems in 2009)

"No, I wouldn’t say that. I’d just say we didn’t play as well as we could have and it was a disappointing season all around."

(On the team’s jersey tribute to T Flozell Adams)

"Yeah, it was pretty good. When they all had Flozell’s jersey, I was definitely surprised. It looked good on those guys."

(On how Adams responded)
"You couldn’t really get a tell on how he was feeling. He’s always got the same look on his face, and he’s a mean guy, so no one really wants to talk to him."

(On how he has evolved into a team leader)

"Being the old guy in the locker room, I think guys respect me and respect what I do out on the field. If I need to talk about something or I have to get a message across, all the guys pretty much listen and follow."

(On how difficult the Packers’ offense looks on turf)

"Oh man, I’ll go back to the days of probably St. Louis when it was the Greatest Show on Turf. Those guys look amazing on turf. The game I watched mostly on the turf was the Atlanta game and they were outstanding. I think (Packers QB Aaron) Rodgers was almost perfect that day. It’s going to be a little tougher defending those guys on the turf."

(On how the Steelers plan to attack Rodgers on Sunday)

"I think we’ll mix it up. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league, so we’re going to have to show him a lot of different looks and try to confuse him as best we can. I’m sure he’s studying tape right now so he’s going to be ready for the things that we’ve got. We’ll have to come up with a few new wrinkles and I’m sure Coach (Dick) LeBeau is going to have to go back in the archives and come up with a great game plan."

(On if LeBeau’s experience gives the team an extra measure of confidence)

"I think so. I definitely think it gives us a sense of calmness to know that he’s going to come up with something. He’s right most of the time."

(On how the Steelers’ defense compares with Green Bay’s defense)

"They’ve got similar players. They run pretty much the same defense that we do and they have some of the same bodies that we do. Some of the things that stick out in my mind are (B.J.) Raji, he’s a big guy in the middle and it definitely starts with the nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. You’ve got (Clay) Matthews on the outside. You can compare him to either one of our outside guys. They do the same thing — wreak havoc on the field. You’ve got the great Charles Woodson back there in the secondary. You can compare him a little bit to Troy (Polamalu). The plays that he makes, he’s always around the ball and
he’s a guy you have to be aware of."

(On if preparing for the Super Bowl is more of a routine since he’s done it before)

"Yeah, I definitely think it’s more of a sense of calm on our side of the ball. A lot guys in our locker room have Super Bowl experience, so I think it will help us out, just dealing with everything that’s going to be going on this week."

(On if the team backed Ben Roethlisberger during his suspension at the start of the season)

"I was highly upset about this whole situation. When Roger Goodell came to us in the preseason, I think I was the guy that asked him a lot of the questions about Ben. I was pretty upset about it. I really didn’t get any answers from him that I was looking for, but I was definitely disappointed in what the verdict was and how they proceeded. I definitely didn’t think he should be suspended for four games."

(On the team being known as a defensive team and not being known by its quarterback)

"It feels good, but when you think about the Steelers, you’ve got to think about Ben."

 

Other Monday Press Conference Transcriptions:

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2011 Super Bowl: Star Brewers Pitcher Zack Greinke Picks Steelers, Angers State Of Wisconsin

In the Milwaukee Brewers’ winter fan festival Brewers On Deck, new star acquisition Zack Greinke got off to a poor start with the state of Wisconsin by picking the Steelers over the Packers in the Super Bowl:

Greinke didn’t have to wait for his first poor outing to hear boos from local fans, however. During a question-and-answer session, Greinke and [fellow new acquisition and pitcher Shaun] Marcum were asked who they thought would win the Super Bowl.

“I like the Steelers,” replied Greinke, who has a reputation for being brutally honest at times.

After boos rained down from the audience, Marcum wasn’t about to make the same mistake.

“I’m going to disagree with Zack and go with the Packers,” said Marcum, drawing huge applause.

Perhaps Wisconsin football fans should stop asking Greinke what he thinks – this isn’t the first time this has happened.

I’ve never been a Green Bay fan, though. Sorry about that. I like Aaron Rodgers for fantasy as a quarterback, but he got drafted too high in our league this year.

It’s nice to see an athlete not give the obvious answers to questions like this, even if it’s about something as meaningless as his opinion about football. And of course, I agree with him – I like the Steelers too.

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2011 Super Bowl: Maurkice Pouncey Could Play Despite Ankle Injury

The Pittsburgh Steelers already have their work cut out for them when they play the Green Bay Packers in Sunday’s Super Bowl, but it would be much more difficult without center Maurkice Pouncey anchoring the offensive line.

Pouncey, a 6-foot-4, 304 pound rookie out of the University of Florida, didn’t practice last week after injuring his left ankle against the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game. Despite the injury, which is being termed a “high ankle sprain” by the team, the Steelers have yet to rule Pouncey out of the game.

According to an ESPN report, the team is being “very aggressive” with Pouncey’s rehabilitation. Head coach Mike Tomlin told the Associated Press that Pouncey is “not on a running clock” until Wednesday, when the team will once again begin practicing for the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Tomlin was also quoted as saying that he’s “sure it could be characterized as that,” when asked if the sprain could actually be a broken bone in Pouncey’s ankle.

If Pouncey’s unable to go, the Steelers will use backup Doug Legursky.

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2011 Super Bowl: Aaron Smith's MRI To Determine Whether He Can Play

ESPN reports that Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith will have an MRI to determine whether he can play in the Super Bowl. Smith has been out for several months with a triceps injury.

Pittsburgh has been saving a roster spot in the hopes that Smith would be able to rejoin the team at some point this postseason. Doctors and the Steelers are hoping that the MRI provides clarity as to whether Smith can play against Green Bay.

I’d love to have Smith back, obviously, but it’s shocking how long he has been rumored to be coming back without actually doing so. I’m honestly a little tired of seeing news on this topic when there’s about a 95 percent chance that he isn’t going to play. It also isn’t really clear to me whether an Aaron Smith who has had so little time to get back into the swing of playing live NFL games would play that much better than Ziggy Hood anyway. I’m sure he wants badly to get back on the field, but I doubt very much that he’s going to be able to do it in time for the big game.

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2011 Super Bowl, Steelers Vs. Packers: Expect Big Things From LaMarr Woodley

With the 2011 Super Bowl, an exciting battle between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, nearly upon us, let's take a moment to examine one of the game's more enticing individual matchups - especially before Tuesday's "media day," an endless orgy of journalistic rigor and integrity, where reporters hold players' feet to the fire by demanding straight answers to uncompromising questions like, "If you were a candy bar, what kind would you be?"

I'm talking about the Steelers' pit bull at right outside linebacker, LaMarr Woodley versus Packers rookie right tackle Bryan Baluga. I wrote in last week's feature that Super Bowl XLV would be determined by who brought pressure more effectively and who - between quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers - handled it better. Woodley v. Baluga figures to be a big part of that.

Baluga has been good enough this season to take over the starting job from Week 5 forward, but it's hard to say that him lining up against Woodley isn't an obvious mismatch, especially considering that Baluga is still a bit "left-handed" after spending his college career at right guard and right tackle. Woodley is a pass-rushing dynamo, of course, but he seems to really bring his A-game during the playoffs: in six career postseason games, Woodley has an amazing 10 quarterback sacks.

However, what's most important is that if Woodley can effectively rush on the right side of Green Bay's offensive line, this should force Rodgers, perhaps the best scrambling quarterback in the league, to his left in passing situations. Of course, this would sacrifice accuracy by forcing the quarterback to throw "against the grain," (Rodgers is right-handed) or perhaps even deliver him into the loving arms of left outside linebacker James Harrison.

The Packers will obviously give left tackle Chad Clifton all the help they can against Harrison. Green Bay runs a lot of plays out of the shotgun, so I expect there to be a running back lined up on the left to chip-block. (That, or Clifton will just commit holding on every play, which will only draw two flags maximum, as is often the case with Harrison.) However, the Pack will probably need to keep a tight end in pass protection on the strong side if they expect Baluga to survive against Woodley.

If I'm Steelers coordinator Dick LeBeau, I'm bringing Woodley on the blitz every time until Green Bay proves they can stop me.

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2011 Super Bowl: Schedule For Steelers

ESPN’s James Walker has the Steelers’ schedule this week as they prepare for the Super Bowl, which will take place on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

The Steelers will touch down in Dallas on Monday afternoon and will meet with the media. The big media blitz, though, will be on Tuesday – that’s media day. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Steelers will practice at TCU, which is in nearby Fort Worth. The players look to be unavailable to the media beginning on Friday.

Tuesday, though, will be the day when we’ll probably get a barrage of pseudo-news. I wonder what it’ll be. The spat among the Packers about their team photo seems to be over. One overlooked angle here is that the Steelers were at the center of the illegal-hits issue throughout much of the season. I haven’t read much about that in the national media’s coverage of the Super Bowl so far. It wouldn’t be a shock if someone like Ryan Clark said something in defense of James Harrison that grabbed headlines on media day.

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Could The 2011 Super Bowl Cause Heart Problems For Fans?

That’s not a headline I thought I’d be writing today but, you know, whatever. In the grand tradition of the last third of your poorly-produced local newscast (you know, the one where the guy wearing six bottles of hair product tells you that the water you’re drinking is poison), Time Magazine is here to tell us that the Super Bowl could kill you:

It turns out that passionately following a team to a climactic event like the Super Bowl championship may be stressful enough to trigger heart attack or heart disease. In a study of Los Angeles county residents, before and after the L.A. teams’ two Super Bowl appearances, researchers found that a win correlated with a decrease in heart-related deaths while a loss was linked to a spike in cardiac deaths in the weeks following the game.

Good thing L.A. doesn’t have an NFL team anymore, then! Of course, its residents are still vulnerable to heart problems brought on by sex or waiting in traffic or stress at work or … well, lots of things that we accept as parts of modern life. So it seems strange to worry about this too much. If things go wrong for the Steelers, though, we’d all do well to remember that it’s just a game.

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Super Bowl XLV: Ben Roethlisberger Compares Aaron Rodgers To Brett Favre

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger recently talked to Merril Hoge of ESPN about the possibility of winning a third Super Bowl, which would put him in elite company along with Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, Tom Brady, and, of course, Terry Bradshaw. Roethlisberger says essentially the same thing he said today at halftime of the Pro Bowl – that it would be “humbling,” but right now he doesn’t want to talk about it. (Which is tough luck for him, because he’s probably going to have to talk about that about a thousand times between now and the game.)

Less humbly, Roethlisberger says that the reason he isn’t as big a star as Brady or Peyton Manning is that football fandom is oriented around big numbers and fantasy football, and he’s just concerned with winning. Roethlisberger also praises Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose quick release reminds Roethlisberger of Brett Favre, and says that if Rodgers “threw a ball through a car wash, it wouldn’t get wet. He literally has got a cannon.” Well, maybe not literally. But it's no surprise to hear Roethlisberger praise Rodgers, not only because it's polite, but because Hoge is on to something when he suggests that Rodgers could easily remind Roethlisberger of himself.

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2011 Super Bowl: Aaron Rodgers, Packers Sniping Over Team Photo Issue

While the Steelers prepare for the Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers are squabbling over the scheduling of their team photo, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers seems to be questioning his teammates’ commitment.

It all started early in the week when [Nick] Barnett and tight end Jermichael Finley complained on Twitter that they wouldn’t be in the Packers’ Super Bowl photo because it was scheduled to be taken Tuesday, two days before injured players will arrive in Dallas ...

However, Rodgers and another team captain, Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson, brought the issue to McCarthy’s attention, and they decided to reschedule the photo for Friday ...

Rodgers reignited the debate Saturday when he said some of the team’s 16 injured players chose not to stay in Green Bay and rehabilitate.

Here’s what Rodgers said to set things off.

“I’ll say this, I was on IR back in 2006 and I chose to stick around and finish out the season with my guys and be here every game. Some of those guys didn’t,” Rodgers said. “Some of the guys who were injured, they still are part of this team, but they didn’t choose to stick around.”

Injured Packers Nick Barnett and Jermichael Finley then fired back on Twitter. Rodgers called Barnett to iron things out.

LaMarr Woodley of the Steelers sounds amused by the whole thing:

I can tell u this much-us @steelers would never be tweeting jabs at each other.. over a team picture issue especially LOL

That’s probably true, and it’s embarrassing for the Packers that this went public, but it seems unlikely to be more than just a minor distraction. They’ll still be ready to play the big game.

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2011 Super Bowl: Packers Trying To Figure Out How To Stop Ben Roethlisberger

In the 2011 Super Bowl, the Packers and Steelers will both be faced with the tasks of bringing down elusive quarterbacks. For his part, Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers has assembled a “lowlight” video starring Steelers opponents in their failed attempts to bring down Ben Roethlisberger:

“I’m sure it could have lasted longer,” [Packers linebacker Desmond] Bishop said of the video. "A lot of guys are going for his pump-fakes or not wrapping up fully when they have him.

“It’s just a mental or a subliminal note that when you get your opportunity to get him, you got to hit, you got to wrap up and bring all your technique and all your weight with you, because he’s definitely a big guy to bring down.”

A video of teams failing to tackle Roethlisberger would probably be a very long one – it’s amazing how much time he creates for himself. At the same time, he sometimes seems to hold on to the ball for an eternity, and is very vulnerable to sacks when he does.

Roethlisberger’s amazing pump-faking ability can help him spring receivers and buy time, but the Packers’ Charles Woodson says he has a counter-strategy:

“You can’t just go full speed and reckless,” Woodson said. “You’ve got to come with some sort of controlled aggression, once you get to the quarterback. … And when you get your hands on him, you can’t let go. He’s got to go down.”

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2011 Super Bowl: Former Penn State Teammates Eye Super Bowl Ring

Super Bowl XLV is only eight days away which means that, barring an early start to the potential lockout, a former Penn State player will be a Super Bowl champion on Monday, February 7.

Steelers punter Jeremy Kapinos was signed this year following the injury that sidelined Daniel Sepulveda eight weeks ago. Kapinos punted for Penn State for four years, becoming the all-time leader in punts and punt yardage in the process. Ironically, Kapinos spent all of 2009 as the Green Bay Packers regular punter, kicking 66 times with a net average of 34.1 yards.

On the other sideline, rookie tight end Andrew Quarless will be playing in his first Super Bowl next Sunday. Quarless spent four years playing at Penn State, including a breakout freshman year in 2007. Quarless caught 23 balls for the Packers in 2010, amassing 238 yards and one touchdown.

A Penn State player has appeared in 40 of the 45 Super Bowls, including Super Bowl XXX, where former Penn State defensive back and current Green Bay Packers safeties coach Darren Perry played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The only other former local player on either roster is backup Steelers safety Ryan Mundy, a former West Virginia Mountaineer.

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Super Bowl XLV Preview: Steelers And Packers Interviews

One week down, one to go before the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field in Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers. It was a busy week in the media, as journalists, bloggers, radio stations, and fans all reported and opined about the outstanding match up to be settled two Sundays from now at Cowboys Stadium. Next week is when the real madness begins though, so get ready!

In case you were looking for some audio pleasure to get you through your weekend, here’s a number of player and coaches interviews from both the Steelers and Packers.

Pittsburgh Steelers Interviews:

Isaac Redman on ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh

Lawrence Timmons on 970 ESPN Radio in Pittsburgh

LaMarr Woodley with Jim Rome…. (transcription available here)

Hines Ward on WCNN in Atlanta….(transcription available here)

Bryant McFadden on 970 ESPN in Pittsburgh (Segment 1)
Bryant McFadden on 970 ESPN in Pittsburgh (Segment 2)
Bryant McFadden on 970 ESPN in Pittsburgh (Segment 3)

Ramon Foster on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh

Trai Essex on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh

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Green Bay Packers Interviews:

Clay Matthews on WFAN in New York…. (transcription available here)

Ryan Grant on WSSP in Milwaukee…..(transcription available here)

Dom Capers on KILT in Houston….(transcription available here)

Sam Shields on WQAM in Miami….(transcription available here)

John Kuhn (formerly with Steelers briefly) on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh

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Super Bowl XLV: Steelers And Packers Friday Injury Report

Friday marked the final day of practice for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers in their respective home towns. The two historic franchises are off to Dallas early next week to begin their preparations for Super Bowl XLV.  The big news for the Steelers was the unfortunate news that All Pro rookie center Maurkice Pouncey had in fact broken a bone in his ankle, not merely sprained it during last Sunday's AFC Championship Game win over the Jets. I've written all week that Pouncey ain't playing even if the Steelers are still holding out a glimmer of hope that the sensational rookie will heal in time to play. Steeler Nation also got disappointed news in Aaron Smith's progress. Out since late October with a triceps injury, Smith had hoped to be ready to go in the event that the Steelers made the Super Bowl. Well, they did just that, but the immensely popular defensive lineman doesn't look like he's a safe bet to be able to suit up two Sundays from now. Fortunately second-year DL Ziggy Hood has elevated his game several big notches the second half of this season.

Let's take a complete look at the injury reports of the Steelers and Packers. Notice though that the Packers didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday, meaning the reports from those days were merely estimations made by the NFL, which they in turn passed on to SB Nation Pittsburgh and other media outlets to share.

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS at GREEN BAY PACKERS

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Status Report

QUESTIONABLE

S Will Allen (knee), C Maurkice Pouncey (ankle),

DE Aaron Smith (triceps)

PROBABLE

CB Bryant McFadden (abdomen), S Troy Polamalu (achilles),

WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot), T Jonathan Scott (ribs)

Practice Report

DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE

Wednesday

S Will Allen (knee), CB Bryant McFadden (abdomen),

S Troy Polamalu (achilles), C Maurkice Pouncey (ankle),

WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot), T Jonathan Scott (ribs)

Thursday

S Will Allen (knee), CB Bryant McFadden (abdomen),

S Troy Polamalu (achilles), C Maurkice Pouncey (ankle),

WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot), T Jonathan Scott (ribs)

Friday

S Will Allen (knee), C Maurkice Pouncey (ankle),

T Jonathan Scott (ribs)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE

Wednesday

DE Aaron Smith (triceps)

Thursday

DE Aaron Smith (triceps)

Friday

DE Aaron Smith (triceps)

FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE

Friday

CB Bryant McFadden (abdomen), S Troy Polamalu (achilles),

WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot)

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Status Report

QUESTIONABLE

LB Erik Walden (ankle), LB Frank Zombo (knee)

PROBABLE

LB Desmond Bishop (ankle), T Chad Clifton (neck),

LB A.J. Hawk (knee), WR Greg Jennings (knee),

C Jason Spitz (calf)

Practice Report (Green Bay did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. The Wednesday

and Thursday practice reports are an estimation from the NFL communications office).

DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE

Wednesday

LB Erik Walden (ankle), LB Frank Zombo (knee)

Thursday

LB Erik Walden (ankle), LB Frank Zombo (knee)

Friday

LB Erik Walden (ankle)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE

Wednesday

LB Desmond Bishop (ankle), T Chad Clifton (neck),

LB A.J. Hawk (knee), WR Greg Jennings (knee),

C Jason Spitz (calf)

Thursday

LB Desmond Bishop (ankle), T Chad Clifton (neck),

LB A.J. Hawk (knee), WR Greg Jennings (knee),

C Jason Spitz (calf)

Friday

T Chad Clifton (neck), LB A.J. Hawk (knee),

WR Greg Jennings (knee), LB Frank Zombo (knee)

FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE

Friday

LB Desmond Bishop (ankle), C Jason Spitz (calf)

For more Steelers coverage leading up to Super Bowl XLV, check out Behind the Steel Curtain and Acme Packing Company.

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Who Are 2011 Super Bowl's Best Players?

ESPN ranks every player in the Super Bowl. Ben Roethlisberger is No. 1, which seems like a bit of a stretch to me, compared to someone like Troy Polamalu, who’s the best defender (or at least one of the best) in the league’s best defense. But then, it’s kind of an inherently futile task to try to compare a quarterback to a safety or a punter to a nose tackle. But it’s still fun.

Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, James Harrison, Clay Matthews and Polamalu are the top five. You can argue about the rest. Mike Wallace, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons slot in at numbers 11-13, while Brett Keisel, Rashard Mendenhall, Heath Miller, Casey Hampton and Maurkice Pouncey fit in at numbers 16-20. Between No. 30 and No. 50 is where you’ll find rookie receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, which makes sense. The last four Steelers ranked are Jeremy Kapinos, Arnaz Battle, Crezdon Butler and Steve McLendon.

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2011 Super Bowl: Maurkice Pouncey Has Broken Bone In Ankle

The Post-Gazette reports that, in addition to the ankle sprain we already knew about, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey also has a broken bone in his ankle. While he hasn’t been officially ruled out, and while I’m not a doctor, I’d say the chance of him playing in the Super Bowl is about .0001 percent.

Assuming he’s out, Doug Legursky will start in his place. Legursky looked perfectly capable of handling his blocking assignments after replacing Pouncey in the middle of the AFC Championship Game against the Jets, but he and Ben Roethlisberger flubbed two snaps. They’ll have two weeks to get the snapping issue ironed out, and fellow offensive lineman Chris Kemoeatu says Legursky should be fine:

“Doug’s pretty good, there’s really no difference at all,” left guard Chris Kemoeatu said.

“I’ve been [working] with Doug enough, especially last week when he stepped up in there. It’s a good thing we get two weeks going into the Super Bowl. We get repetition, being next to each other.”

It’s great that Kemoeatu is optimistic, and I don’t doubt that Legursky is competent, but Pouncey, who played well for the Steelers all season, will still be missed.

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2011 Super Bowl: Will Game Be A 'Redemption' For Ben Roethlisberger?

No, no, no,, I say. But Buzz Bissinger has written the best article I’ve yet seen about what Ben Roethlisberger’s performance in the Super Bowl has to do with his alleged off-field transgressions. (Although the New York Times’ take is good too.) You probably won’t like it if you’re a Steelers fan (as I am), because it’s really vicious, and yes, Buzz Bissinger is the loser who most recently made headlines for ranting ludicrously about blogs, but I’d much rather read something like Bissinger’s article than something like this or this.

I was just talking to fellow SB Nation Pittsburgh writers Pete and Sam Wilmoth about this, and they pointed out that Steelers fans have had a whole season to focus on Ben Roethlisberger the player, allowing us to forget about Ben Roethlisberger the person. And if the Steelers end up winning the game (as I hope they will), it’s going to feel really strange that an alleged rapist just won the Super Bowl.

You as a Steelers fan may find all this to be old news, but you’re going to hear a lot about it over the next couple of weeks. And you’re going to hear some very strange stuff about Roethlisberger being redeemed, when it’s clear that, whether or not Roethlisberger is guilty, winning a football game is completely irrelevant to what he was accused of doing.

Anyway, here’s Bissinger:

It is all about winning. And the most disturbing part of the saga is that even an organization as storied and classy as the Pittsburgh Steelers succumbed to it. You will not find better owners in all of sports than the Rooney family. Their loyalty to the city of Pittsburgh is unparalleled, and the Steelers, like the Rooneys themselves, embody toughness, strength, and decency. When the latest Roethlisberger incident surfaced, there were reports that the Steelers immediately put out feelers to trade him. But it never happened, no doubt because whatever Roethlisberger isn’t, he is a remarkable winner.

There is something deeply strange about a culture that decides that a four-game suspension is adequate punishment for what Roethlisberger allegedly did. I find it really uncomfortable to root for him now, because if he did rape someone, then Bissinger is right – he doesn’t belong on a football field anymore. He belongs in jail. I’m still rooting for the Steelers, but it’s a really strange situation.

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2011 Super Bowl: President Obama Takes Jab At Packers, Reaffirms Support Of Steelers

Following his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, President Barack Obama was in Wisconsin giving a speech on Wednesday. He wished the crowd good luck for their hometown Packers, but also added that next year he hoped the team wouldn't be as lucky.

"I'm glad to see that one of the greatest rivalries in sports is still there," he told the crowd during a follow-up speech after his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

"And we will get you next year. I'm just letting you know."

Obama, an avid Chicago Bears fan, was obviously disappointed with the outcome of the NFC Championship game. He will not be in attendance at the Super Bowl, but that didn't stop Packer defensive back Charles Woodson from responding.

"The president don't want to come watch us win the Super Bowl?" he said. "Guess what? We'll go see him."

Obama has expressed his support of the Steelers in the past, most notably during the 2008 presidential election campaign, when Steelers owner Dan Rooney joined Obama in western PA to lend support. Rooney was eventually named as the American ambassador to Ireland, but the President's support of the Steelers was born long ago, when a young Obama was growing up in Hawaii.

Growing up in Hawaii, Obama did not have a local team. Like many such fans who came of age in the 1970s, Obama latched on to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won four Super Bowls in that era. The Steelers have won two more National Football League titles in the past five years.

The President put his support behind the Steelers two years ago, prior to Super Bowl XLIII, and the Steelers wound up beating the Arizona Cardinals for the franchise's sixth Super Bowl trophy. While he hasn't explicitly come out in support of Pittsburgh (yet) this year, his remarks seem to indicate an anti-Green Bay stance, which is good enough for Steelers Nation. For now.

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2011 Super Bowl: Aaron Smith Likely To Miss Game For Steelers

Not only does it sound increasingly likely that center Maurkice Pouncey will miss the Super Bowl, but it sounds like defensive end Aaron Smith will be out as well.

The playoffs have come and gone and only the Super Bowl remains. Smith returned to “practice” two weeks ago but really hasn’t done much on the field, he said. Tomlin listed him again as having “limited participation” in practice Wednesday …

“It would be nice if it were under my control,” Smith said. “If you could outwork this, it would be great, I’d just outwork the problem. It’s not something you can speed up, it’s not in my hands.”

Tomlin will not put him in a game if Smith does not have enough strength in that left arm to ward off blockers, tackle ballcarriers and protect himself.

Unfortunately, this isn’t much of a surprise. Smith has been out forever, and repeated rumblings that he’d be back by now have failed to come to fruition. It was getting to the point where, even if he had been healthy enough to return, it would’ve been fair to wonder whether he would have been effective. It sounds like the Steelers will have to continue to make do without him.

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2011 Super Bowl: Maurkice Pouncey Out With Injury, Teammate Says

Maurkice Pouncey’s offensive line-mate Chris Kemoeatu says that the ankle sprain Pouncey suffered in the SteelersAFC Championship Game win over the Jets will keep Pouncey out of the Super Bowl against the Packers as well:

“It’s definitely a huge loss,” Kemoeatu, the Steelers’ left guard, said Wednesday. “We all know what Maurkice brings to the table. He’s everything you’d want a center to be, he’s everywhere on the field. We’ve just got to let that be motivation and go out there and ball out.”

If this comes to pass, it’ll be a huge loss for the Steelers, who have depended on Pouncey for stability on their injury-decimated offensive line this year. But it’s not really all that surprising – Pouncey was sporting a hard cast and crutches in practice today. Doug Legursky will continue to play center if Pouncey is unavailable. Legursky had a couple of flubbed snaps against the Jets but did well in blocking.

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2011 Super Bowl: Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne To Appear In Commercial

The Washington Post reports that Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne will be featured in a Best Buy commercial that will debut during the Super Bowl, and that there will also be a commercial for Bieber’s 3-D movie. Hey, cool, Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne! One guy is really young and one is really old! I bet hijinks will ensue!

This is the sort of thing I hate about the Super Bowl. A few years ago, Major League Baseball tried to have Spiderman 2 logos placed on the bases for a few days. The fans, much to their credit, threw a fit, and baseball relented. But there’s nothing one can even say about Justin Bieber whispering sweet nothings to every emotionally underdeveloped tween in America right in the middle of the most important football game of the year. It’s bizarre. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

And yeah, I get that almost all broadcast TV has commercials, including baseball games, and there was probably occasions in which Bieber appeared between innings. But there’s also the fact that the Black Eyed Peas are going to appear at halftime, which … if anyone can explain what weak, let’s-please-everyone-while-peeing-our-pants-onstage R&B has to do with football, I’d love to know. If this were the Pro Bowl game, or some other game that didn’t really matter, that would be one thing, but stuff like this really cheapens a game that should seem really important.

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2011 Super Bowl: Younger Steelers Want Rings

ESPN.com has a nice article about the Steelers’ younger players, who are ready to try to win some jewelry:

“We’re really hungry,” [Mike] Wallace said. “I’m pretty sure the other guys will bring their rings out before we go to Dallas. So we’re extremely jealous — but jealous in a good way, not in a bad way. We just want us some [rings].”

“They kind of throw it out that they experienced it [a Super Bowl] and we haven’t,” [Emmanuel] Sanders said.

It’s funny that this story describes the Steelers’ veterans, who already have Super Bowl rings from a couple years back, motivating the team’s younger players. I mean, I’m sure that’s true, but it sometimes seems like the 2010 Steelers have been driven primarily by the younger guys, and not the other way around. Veteran Troy Polamalu has been fantastic when he has played, but he has struggled to stay on the field; two other older guys, Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel, have had injury troubles as well. And Hines Ward has been erratic all season.

Youngster Mike Wallace had a breakout year, though, which helped ease the Steelers through Ward’s ups and downs. And rookie wideouts Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown stepped forward in a big way toward the end of the season. Rookie center Maurkice Pouncey played brilliantly for an otherwise weak offensive line.

Whoever is carrying who – and I don’t think we necessarily have to pick whether it’s the veterans or the young players – the Steelers have struck a winning balance this season, combining some good or great performances by established stars with surprising contributions from newcomers.

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2011 Super Bowl: Pittsburgh Connections Dominate Green Bay Coaching Staff

If I didn't know any better, I'd think the Green Bay Packer coaching staff had been slowly trying to gain a competitive advantage against the Pittsburgh Steelers by stockpiling personnel for their coaching positions that are either from the area or have spent considerable time with the Steelers organization. Consider the following:

  • Head Coach Mike McCarthy is a native of Greenfield and coached for four years at the University of Pittsburgh (quarterbacks and wide receivers, following a "volunteer coach" position).
  • Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin is a graduate of Washington and Jefferson College and coached at Allegheny College in the early 1990's.
  • Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers led the Steelers defense from 1992-1994, earning Assistant Coach of the Year in 1994.
  • Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements was born in McKees Rocks, PA and held the same position with Pittsburgh from 2001-2003, including Kordell Stewart's 2001 Pro Bowl season.
  • Tight Ends coach Ben McAdoo is from Homer City, PA and attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania; he spent the 2003 season as an offensive assistant at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Outside Linebackers coach Kevin Greene played linebacker for the Steelers for three years, including 1995 when the Steelers would lose to the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl, their only such loss.
  • Defensive Quality Control coach Scott McCurley was born in New Castle, PA, attended Mohawk H.S., and lettered four years at the University of Pittsburgh, earning a scholarship after walking on to the team.
  • Safeties coach Darren Perry attended Penn State and played for the Steelers for the majority of his career before joining the Pittsburgh coaching staff for four years in 2003; like Greene, Perry played for the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX.
  • Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum spent the 1990 season as a graduate assistant with the University of Pittsburgh, serving on the same staff as McCarthy.

That's an impressive collection of Pittsburgh-based talent. And in case you were wondering, the reverse of this phenomenon exists as well; Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau spent four years coaching in Green Bay in the late 1970's.

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Peter King Spot On With His Preseason Steelers-Packers Super Bowl Prediction

When you have a national column as ubiquitously read as Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, it’s impossible to escape the scrutiny of fans and their tendency to point out every last incorrect prediction and analytical assessment. Want an example? Well, following the Pittsburgh Steelers divisional round win over the Baltimore Ravens, King wrote the following about Rashard Mendenhall: “I think Rashard Mendenhall, two touchdowns Saturday and all, is just not a big-time back.”

A few lines later, King followed up with: “Rashard Mendenhall running laterally. Get upfield, man.”

Hmm. Really? Sure, Mendenhall has danced laterally at times this season, but when you consider the offensive line that he’s running behind, it’s not surprising that No. 34 has had to do plenty of dancing and juking behind the line of scrimmage before trying to finagle his way to a positive gain. Plus, consider the Steelers’ opponent that week, the Ravens. The Steelers are never able to muster much on the ground against Baltimore. And certainly not in a situation where the Steelers lost multiple offensive linemen to injury or illness during the game.

Anyway, I’m one of those who believes King does a pretty darn good job with his weekly column. If nothing else, I respect the man because he seems like a genuinely kind and honest man. In fact, he’s one of the folks I’d like to meet next week while down in Dallas covering the Super Bowl.

Plus, King might have been off the mark on his assessment of Mendenhall (at least in my opinion), but he sure got it right when he made his Super Bowl prediction this summer.

THE STEELERS? Really? The team with the suspended starting quarterback? The one that traded away a Super Bowl MVP? The club that couldn’t beat the Chiefs or the Raiders in 2009? The defensively mortal Steelers? The geezer Steelers? Green Bay in the NFC you can understand, especially after Aaron Rodgers’s phenomenal preseason. But Pittsburgh? The football gods are laughing, and the karma gods are weeping.

If you read the column, you’ll likely nod your head in agreement with King’s reasoning for the pick. I particularly liked his prediction that the Steelers would benefit from the emergence of three young players:

I like three young players to emerge in Pittsburgh: versatile second-year defensive end Ziggy Hood, who was a terror in training camp; second-year man Mike Wallace, who’ll replace Holmes as the big-play wideout opposite Hines Ward (wait until you see him cut and turn upfield); and rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, whose speed and power should bolster a weak interior line.

Finally, I liked King’s predicted score for the Super Bowl: Steelers 33, Packers 27. I too think we’ll see an offensive shootout when the two historic franchises meet in Super Bowl XLV two Sundays from now. We’ll see. But kudos to King for nailing that prediction this summer squarely on the head.

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2011 Super Bowl Date: Parking Spots Near Cowboys Stadium Cost Almost $1000

If you’re lucky enough to be heading to the 2011 Super Bowl to see the Steelers and Packers at Cowboys Stadium at 6:00 p.m. Feb. 6, well … hopefully you’ve already done your planning. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram points out that parking lots near the stadium are currently selling spots at a remarkable $990 each. And that’s not all you’ll overpay for: hotel rooms in the area are going for three to five times their normal rate. And then there’s the tickets themselves: StubHub has them going for about $3,000 for nosebleed seats, and $10,000-$15,000 for really premium ones.

I’ll just be watching the game at home (it’s on FOX), and I’ve never seen a Super Bowl in person. But the hugeness of it has always startled me a little – I like sports mostly as relatively uncomplicated athletic competitions, and the money that swirls around the Super Bowl (both the actual money it costs to go, and the money being flaunted through huge, non-football-related halftime shows and expensive commercials) is distracting. There will be almost 700 limousines on hand for this year’s Super Bowl, for example. If you’re going, enjoy the little bits of football you’ll see through the clouds of money forming everywhere. Not that watching it on TV is necessarily much better.

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2011 Super Bowl: Steelers Vs. Packers

The 2011 Super Bowl matchup between the Steelers and the Packers brings together two franchises with long and strong histories. The Packers won the first two Super Bowls, in 1966 and 1967, and also won Super Bowl XXXI in 1996. The Steelers, meanwhile, have six Super Bowl wins - 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005 and 2008. They're both associated with their long histories and with playing in harsh, cold-weather environments, so it'll be a little weird to see this year's Super Bowl played in the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington (an incongruity to which this USA Today piece alludes).

Following along the same USA Today piece, which introduces some of what I imagine will be the key storylines in this game, you'll obviously hear about the two teams' quarterbacks a ton in the next two weeks. For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers has been around far too long to merely be Brett Favre's replacement anymore, but Favre's shadow still looms, and Rodgers can go a long way toward establishing himself as Green Bay's next iconic quarterback by pulling out a win on Feb. 6.

For Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the stories will probably be uglier, revolving around his offseason problems and his suspension to start the year. That's unfortunate, and hopefully writers will control their temptations to treat the Super Bowl as if it's a path to redemption for Roethlisberger rather than just a football game with a lot of fancy commercials. The world is a complicated place, and Roethlisberger is a complicated, and flawed, person, and a Super Bowl win won't change anything about what happened or didn't happen that night in Georgia.

Also critical (and happily, more clearly football-related) will be the health of these two teams. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey suffered an ankle sprain in the win over the Jets; he should be ready for the Super Bowl, which is good news, because Roethlisberger and backup Doug Legursky flubbed two snaps in the AFC Championship against the Jets. Also critical will be the status of defensive lineman Aaron Smith, who has been MIA with a torn triceps for months but lately has shown signs of returning.

In any case, we here at SB Nation Pittsburgh will be updating this thread regularly with all things Super Bowl-related, so come back often.

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