Thursday, January 29, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII: The Keys to Victory

We are not sure if all fans of the Steelers are like us, but if they were scheduled to play a high school team this week we could come up with twelve good reasons why the Steelers would lose.

Some call it pessimistic we prefer to think of it as . . . insightful.

However, because we tend to see challenges in every matchup Pittsburgh faces we try not to delve into pregame assessments. This week will be an exception, but we will try to be brief. With that in mind, here are our keys to a sixth Super Bowl victory for the Black & Gold:

The Offense
  1. There is one aspect of play that trumps almost all others ~ turnovers. If the Steelers do not turn the football over their chances for winning will improve dramatically. If they turn the ball over, especially if they do so more than once, Monday is going to be a lousy day.

  2. This game reminds us a great deal of the playoff game versus Indianapolis (January 15, 2006). In that game the Steelers possessed the ball for an incredible 34:52, whereas Indianapolis had the ball for 25:08 ~ and the Steelers still won by only three points.

    If the Steelers can possess the ball for something approaching 34:00, and don't turn the football over, they will win the game ~ perhaps by only three points.
The Defense
  1. There is one aspect of play that trumps almost all others ~ turnovers. If the Steelers force turnovers their chances of winning will improve dramatically.

  2. We don't know if we mentioned this but this game reminds of the January 2006 playoff game versus Indianapolis. In that game Peyton Manning, known for a quick release and not being sacked too often, (he was sacked a total of 17 times during the regular season) was dropped by the Steelers five times. Moreover, in that game pressure tended to come up the middle (James Farrior had 2.5 sacks) exactly where Mr. Manning could see it best. A similar approach against Kurt Warner is critical.

  3. We have see others mention this, but it bears repeating ~ the Steelers secondary has to minimize big gains by the Cardinals' offense. If special teams does their job (see below), a long field will be the Steelers' best ally.
The Special Teams
  1. On October 12, 2008 the Cardinals defeated the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 30-24. What is stunning about that is that the Cardinals scored three of their four touchdowns on special teams ~ two kickoff returns and a blocked punt for the winning score. The Steelers have not faced a better special teams group this season.

  2. Mitch Berger is going to have to have a career day. During the 2008 regular season the Arizona offense scored 45 touchdowns. On average their touchdown drives were 6.93 plays in duration and covered 63.39 yards. The Arizona offense had 11 touchdown drives of ten plays or more; and to put that in perspective they had 13 touchdown drives of five plays or fewer. Yes, the Cardinals' offense is explosive, but keep them on a long field and the odds of them scoring decline significantly.

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