That’s Super Bowl 43 for those that don’t know how to read Roman numerals once they get beyond X’s, V’s and I’s. Don’t worry, I had to look it up myself.
This year’s matchup is pretty much everything the NFL and NBC could have hoped for. You’ve got the historic power franchise in the Steelers and the feel good underdog in the Cardinals, who are making their first ever trip to the big game. The last time these two teams met was Week Four of the 2007 season, when Pittsburgh walked away with a 21-14 win. That was the second to last game Matt Leinart has started in the NFL.
The Steelers had the league’s best defense by far this year, giving up just 237.2 YPG, nearly 23 YPG less than the next best defensive unit. Only once did a team gain more than 300 yards of total offense against the Steelers this year. The Cards offense, on the other hand, was one the best this year, averaging 365.8 YPG, a distant second in the NFC behind the Saints’ supercharged attack. They racked up at least 300 yards of offense sixteen freaking times this season, so something’s gotta give.
Arizona’s going to rely on University of Pittsburgh product Larry Fitzgerald just like they have all year, but the Steelers held Andre Johnson, TJ Housyomomma , Plaxico Burress, Reggie Wayne, Randy Moss, and Terrell Owens to a grand total of two touchdowns (56.6 YPG on avg) in seven total meetings this season. Troy Polamalu has the ability to match every big play Fitzgerald makes with one of his own.
John Manuel of Baseball America ran through the SB43’s baseball ties earlier this week. Steelers running back Mewelde Moore spend three years in the Padres’ farm system and was rated the system’s 29th best prospect back in 2001. Third string QB Dennis Dixon was the Braves’ fourth round pick in ’07 and is still active in their system, but he didn’t play baseball in ’08 because of a knee injury. Hines Ward is a former 73rd round pick of the Marlins and Cards’ corner Matt Ware spent two years in the Mariners’ farm system. Polamalu was rated the fifth best prospect in the state of Oregon out of high school in 1999, but he instead went to USC on a football scholarship and the rest is history.
Here’s your open thread for the night. I’m assuming SB43 will be the primary topic, but feel free to talk about anything and everything. Just be civil.
Enjoy the game.