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2011 Super Bowl: Younger Steelers Want Rings 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.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.