Packers vs. Steelers

The stuff of legends

By - Feb 1st, 2011 04:00 am

The story of Super Bowl XLV between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers could be written almost solely on the basis of the volume of fun football facts shared by the two venerable football franchises.

For instance, did you know that Packers linebacker coach Kevin Greene played linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1993-1995? And the team’s current safeties coach Darren Perry played for the Steelers from 1992-1998. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers (cue chants of “Dom! Da Dom Dom!”) held that title for the Steeler Nation from 1992-1994. Looking west from Pennsylvania, the Steelers current defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was the defensive backfield coach for the Pack from 1976-1979.

Each team has a player who endorses a hair product, with the Packers’ Clay Matthews endorsing Suave and Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu endorsing Head and Shoulders. Then there’s the one about Packers head coach Mike McCarthy being born and raised in Pittsburgh and growing up a Steelers fan.

But most intriguing about this match-up is that these two teams have never met at this level before. They arguably combine for the most legendary history of greatness in the NFL. They combine for a total of 18 NFL Championships/Super Bowl victories. The Green Bay Packers dominated the 1960s and became a successful organization again in the mid-1990s, while the Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the 1970s and rose to prominence again in the mid-2000s. They’ve never met in a game like this because they have never been dominant at the same time… until now.

Some of the greatest names to ever be associated with professional football come from these two organizations. Start with coaches like Vince Lombardi (Green Bay Packers) and Chuck Knoll (Pittsburgh Steelers). Quarterbacks Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw; linebackers Ray Nitschke and Jack Lambert; defensive ends Reggie White and L.C. Greenwood; defensive tackles Willie Davis and ‘Mean’ Joe Green; wide receivers John Stallworth and Don Hutson; running backs Paul Hornung and Franco Harris; defensive backs Herb Adderley and Rod Woodson. But these names are just the tip of the iceberg: The greatness and number of individual players from these two organizations is staggering.

But it all comes down to Sunday, and what happens on the field with players on the current roster. Both defenses are almost surreally talented, while both offenses excel in different aspects of the game. I am not a Madden player, but if I were this would be my dream match-up. Each team has true play makers on both sides of the ball and each team knows the other’s scheme.

Last year these two teams met in the regular season and Pittsburgh won in a high-scoring shootout, with Ben Roethlisberger throwing the winning touchdown on the last play of the game. But perhaps the most eye popping numbers pertain to real Super Bowl experience. The current Green Bay Packers team has only two players who’ve been to the big dance, and neither went with the Green and Gold. (Ryan Pickett played with the Rams in 2001, Charles Woodson with the Raiders in 2002).

Conversely, the current Pittsburgh Steelers team has 25 players who have been to a Super Bowl. Not surprising, of course, since the Steelers have made their way to the championship three of the last six years, including 2005, when they were the first team in NFL history… (wait for it)… to win the Super Bowl after entering the playoffs as the sixth seed. Now the Packers are the first NFC sixth seed playoff team to go all the way.

This week I’ll be looking into what makes these two teams tick; the defenses and offenses, plus the special teams and my final game prediction. No matter what the history, it will all boil down to current rosters and plays made. The Packers and Steelers are extremely evenly matched, and I would be surprised if this game ended up as a blowout one way or the other. One thing I do know: This game could be a barn burner. And just the fact that it’s finally happening will make it one for the ages.

Categories: Sports, Travel

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