After months of grueling football, this season’s finale should prove to be one full of excitement. This year’s Super Bowl game will be a first for the city of Seattle, who prior to this season went 21 years without a playoff victory.
Born into the league as an expansion team in 1976, the Seahawks have been underdogs ever since. The franchise’s previous owner, Ken Behring, sold the team in the summer of 1996 after a failed effort to move his players to compete in Anaheim, but this Seattle franchise is on the brink of greatness.
The only one standing in their way is the team from Pittsburgh. The Steelers became the first No. 6 seed to ever win an AFC championship and the first team in playoff history to defeat the top three seeded teams on the road to the Super Bowl. All of Pittsburgh’s victories actually came on the road.
Bill Cowher was hired as the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach in 1992, the same year that Seattle’s head coach, Mike Holmgren, was signed to lead the Green Bay Packers, where he won his only Super Bowl title. Since then, there have been 95 changes at the head coach position throughout the league.
After entering his sixth conference championship game in his prolonged tenure, Cowher is heading to his second Super Bowl in hopes of finally taking home the prize.
What does this all mean?
When it comes to the Super Bowl, it comes down to one thing – who wants it the most.
“They’re just as hungry as we are,” said Bill Cowher in an interview with ESPN.
“It’s a golden opportunity for us, but don’t underestimate the challenge that’s in front of us.”
It would be insignificant to predict that the Steelers will win by a Jerome Bettis touchdown run with no time left on the clock.
Super Bowl predictions are worth as much as the pen that writes them – nothing.
However, by developing an understanding of each team’s strength and weaknesses, it will be easier to prophesize what to expect on Sunday.
Cowher will rely heavily on his defensive coordinator, Dick LaBeau, whose defense has dominated the AFC playoffs. Entering the 2006 postseason, the “Blittsburgh” defense had the lowest yards per carry against them in the NFL, fourth in the NFL in yards per game, and second in yards per play.
The Steelers defense is going to need to play stout football in order to shutdown the dynamic offense in Seattle. An offense led by league MVP, Shaun Alexander, who despite not playing well (if at all) in Seattle’s two prior playoff games, came back with a dominating performance in a decisive victory over the Carolina Panthers in the conference championship.
At the quarterback position, the Seahawks will depend on Matt Hasselback, who’s quarterback rating in the playoffs (109.6) has proven to be the catalyst for his offense all the way to the Super Bowl.
For the Steelers, the city of Pittsburgh will rely on a young Ben Roethlisberger, who in only his second year in the NFL, will be playing in his first Super Bowl.
Can these quarterbacks handle the pressure of the big game?
Many great quarterbacks never won a super bowl, and many have choked under the pressure. It took John Elway four times to win his Super Bowl, and Dan Marino lost in the only Super Bowl he ever played. The question remains for both teams.
The seemingly impossible task of holding Vince Lombardi’s trophy is a dream all players pursue. It’ll come down to who’s the toughest, the best prepared and the most deserving. If Bill Cowher has his team ready, they’ll be doing more than waving the terrible towel in Pittsburgh by the time this one is over.