Super Bowl XLV: Steelers Vs. Packers Keys To The Game:
1. Get Pressure Early And Often:
Aaron Rodgers might be one of the better quarterbacks running away from pressure, but he is still human, and more susceptible to mistakes when under pressure. Also, it doesn’t matter how many guy you have in coverage, a receiver will always find a way to get open. Pittsburgh needs to do what it does best and blitz Rodgers non-stop.
2. Replace Maukice Pouncey:
While Doug Legursky will be the man replacing the Steelers Pro Bowl center, the entire offense will need to help replace his presence on the team. Both guards will need to see how much help they can give Legursky on each play, and running backs will need to be prepared to chip or block up the middle. Tight ends and receivers will need to come out of their breaks quicker, to quicken up the passing game. And finally Ben Roethlisberger will need recognize that the middle will collapse and get out of there before he gets into trouble.
3. Stop Clay Matthews Jr. and B.J. Raji:
While part of this is in the replacing Pouncey entry, since he would have gone up against Raji, they would have needed a special game plan for him even if Pouncey was playing. Raji and Matthews are the heart and soul of this Packers defense. Yes the Packers have a number of other good defenders, but none as important as those two. If the Steelers can neutralize those two, (at least to an extent) they should have no problem implementing their offense.
1. Find some Running Room:
Yes the Steelers have the best run defense in the league (actually one of the best in league history), but the Packers can’t abandon the run. A big part of their postseason success has been the emergence of James Starks, and what he as meant to this team. While he might not be a star, he has consistently picked up the tough yards when they need him to the most. He has helped keep the opposing offense off the field, and the clock running when the Packers have a lead. And most importantly he has shown that he at least needs to be respected by the opposing defenses. For as great as Aaron Rodgers is, he needs to have some semblance of a running game if he wants to win.
2. Be Aware of Troy Polamalu:
Troy Polamalu has had an uneventful postseason yet, and hasn’t made too many big plays, but if the Packers think they don’t have to be aware of him they will be sadly mistaken. While the Steelers have kept him deep for most of the postseason he has benefited them, but basically shutting down his zone on the field. Neither Joe Flacco or Mark Sanchez has come close to challenging him, and that has led to other players stepping up and making big plays. My guess is that Aaron Rodgers and company won’t have a choice and they won’t just be able to ignore Polamalu. I think the Steelers will blitz Polamalu more and let him play closer to the line. The Packers have to make sure that Polamalu gets blocked, otherwise he will make the big play.
3. Get Aaron Rodgers Going:
While the Packers have some very good offensive players, Aaron Rodgers is the key to this game. Regardless of how good the Steelers run defense is, the Packers don’t have the personnel to win this game on the ground. They need Rodgers to come up big, and pick up big chunks of yards through the air. They also need Rodgers to be smart with the football, you know the Steelers are going to be coming and that is what they are counting on. They want Rodgers to throw the ball before he has a chance to see the whole field so a defender can jump the route. Rodgers has to always be aware of the blitz, and if he doesn’t have a check down option throw it away as opposed to throwing an interception or taking a sack. And if you are going to take the sack, make sure you have your hands on the ball, as the Steelers might be the best team at the strip-sack. The best thing Rodgers can do, is make the Steelers pay for blitzing, while you know there will be some guys in zone coverage, there will also be some guys matched up one-on-one. Rodgers has to recognize the coverage and exploit it with big plays. If the Packers can get some early scores, you will help somewhat eliminate the Steelers rushing attack.