Finally, it's here. After two weeks of hype, hoopla, Texas A&M filing lawsuits and Joey Porter going all, well, Joey Porter, it's time to stop talking about the Super Bowl and actually let Pittsburgh and Seattle play.
That is, after seven hours of pregame shows filled with — what else? — hype, hoopla, Texas A&M filing lawsuits and Joey Porter going all, well, Joey Porter.
There will also be plenty of love for Pittsburgh short-yardage specialist Jerome Bettis, who as we all know by now is from Detroit. It seems a bit much for a player who rushed for 368 yards on 110 carries, a mere 3.3 yards per carry. Bettis will play a bigger role today against the Seahawks' smallish defensive front and will score a touchdown, becoming the biggest rusher since William "Refrigerator" Perry to get in the end zone.
But Bettis won't be the most important rusher in today's game. That honor belongs to Seattle running back Shaun Alexander, by far the best running back in today's game, who must back up his regular-season MVP award in order for the Seahawks to win.
Running behind one of the best offensive lines in the game, particularly left tackle Walter Jones and left guard Steve Hutchinson, Alexander will have to find the infrequent holes in the Steelers' unique — and aggressive — 3-4 front. Pro Bowl fullback Mack Strong will play a vital role.
Pittsburgh has allowed one 100-yard rusher in its last 31 games, allowing the Steelers to unleash their blitzes and make life difficult for opposing quarterbacks.
See: Manning, Peyton and Plummer, Jake.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, in full command of the Seattle offense, has thrown just nine interceptions in more than 500 pass attempts, including the playoffs, in guiding the league's highest-scoring offense. Hasselbeck, an emotional player, must keep that in check in the biggest game of his life. It won't be easy.
Especially with Porter, whose verbal sparring match with Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens passed for excitement during a rather dull week, and safety Troy Polamalu chasing him. Pressuring the quarterback is the best way for the Steelers to hide average cornerbacks.
But look for Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger to steal the show. The 23-year-old second-year quarterback has been outstanding in the playoffs — 680 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception — and is relishing the big stage.
Watch for Big Ben to pick on Seattle's left corner, be it Andre Dyson or Kelly Herndon, and post big passing numbers with Antwaan Randle El and Cedrick Wilson.
And become the youngest QB ever to win a Super Bowl.
Get the ticker-tape ready in the Steel City — and give Roethlisberger the key to the city.
Pittsburgh 33, Seattle 24