Super Bowl XLVFebruary 4th, 2011
If you can think back a long, long time - way back to September - you might remember that lots of people predicted that Green Bay and Pittsburgh might meet in the Super Bowl.
Maybe those people expected the Packers and Steelers would need to take a slightly different path to their destination than they did take. Maybe those people predicted that names like Manning and Brees and Romo and Rivers would play a much greater role in determining who would play in the Super Bowl than they did. Maybe those people thought the Packers and Steelers would need to fight through the Colts and Saints and Cowboys and Chargers in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl. But that the Packers and Steelers are the last still standing is not unexpected. A Packer-Steeler Super Bowl is no shock at all.
So why then is it so refreshing? Why is this somewhat predictable Super Bowl matchup one that most if not all of us are relishing?
Some of the reasons have less to do with who we will be watching Super Bowl Sunday than who we won't be watching. For example:
- No Brett Favre. Good. Great as he was, we've had enough of him.
- No Rex Ryan. Better. I happen to think he's a very good coach, I happen to think he will win the Super Bowl - in time. But do I want to see more of him? No. As loud and entertaining as he's been, I'm almost as bored of him as of Brett Favre.
- No Bill Belichik. Best of all. Refreshing? Can you imagine trying to use Belichik and refre... Nope, can't even appear in a sentence together. Bored of Belichik. There's a slogan for you.
So, what about the teams we will be seeing, why is this matchup refreshing? Because these teams appear to be evenly matched, more than that, they appear to be evenly dynamic. Neither team is crushingly dominant and neither team is just lucky to be there. On offense, they go for it. Neither team has a dull, risk averse offense (the Steelers may like to run but they happily turn Big Ben loose to throw or riskily scamper as he will) and both teams have riveting defensive dynamos. I don't know about you but I can't wait to see what Polamalu and Harrison and Farrior and Woodson and Matthews and Raji will do on Sunday. I can't wait to find out if they can disrupt an offense. Well, of course I know they can but can they disrupt an offense led by Big Ben or by Aaron The Young? Ahhh, that I want to see.
And I want to find out if Aaron The Young is ready. And is Big Ben is ready? For all the great players on both of these teams, the game will be decided by Big Ben or by Aaron T.Y. It's going to be a close game, I'm sure of that, and I happen to think it will be decided by a game-ending, game-winning or game-losing drive. A drive where if the Steelers give Aaron T.Y. any time he'll carve them up. A drive where the Packers might be better off giving Big Ben time because he seems to be most dangerous when he's flushed from the pocket.
We know Aaron The Young is ready to play. We know he's very, very good. We know he and his teammates are supremely prepared. (How prepared? Their 338 lb. defensive lineman has a nifty, belly jiggler of a dance ready in case he happens to score a touchdown. That's how prepared.) But is Aaron T.Y. ready to don the mantle of Super Bowl winning Quarterback? Is he ready to carry his team? Is he ready to go to Disneyland?
Big Ben? He's been there, done that. Is he ready to do it again? Is he ready to move into heady territory not even occupied by Tom Brady? Is he ready to tie Troy Aikman and to move 1 game behind only Joe Montana and his predecessor at the helm of the Steelers, Terry Bradshaw with 3 or more Super Bowl wins and zero losses?
It's going to be a great game - a refreshingly crisp, well-played Super Bowl. As a great football game should, it will come down to the quarterbacks. One of two great quarterbacks will be leading his team to 2010's ultimate victory. Will Aaron T.Y. be off to meet Mickey and Minnie or will Big Ben have to choose a finger on which to wear his third Super Bowl ring? That's the question. I can't wait to watch and find out.