After a weekend of NFL Conference Championship blowouts, Super Bowl XL is set: Seahawks vs. Steelers in Detroit. Sounds exciting huh? In all honesty the match up doesn’t exactly match the sex appeal of Super Bowls from the past but neither did the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans six years ago. We all know how that one turned out.
The point is this; don’t throw this game under the bus because there aren’t any superstars such as Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. This game will have plenty of fun storylines starting with the fact that this is Seattle’s first trip to the Super Bowl.
After going 13-3 in the regular season the ‘Hawks breezed through the playoffs with a superb effort against Washington and Sunday’s blowout of Steve Smith and the Carolina Panthers. Shaun Alexander bounced back fine from his concussion with 132 yards on 34 carries and two touchdown.
The bigger story though was the brilliant play of Matt Hasselbeck. The 30-year-old former backup to Brett Favre went 20 of 28 for 219 yards and two TD passes. It was sweet revenge for a Seahawk team that came up just short in last year’s playoffs against the Rams.
While many people know about Seattle’s explosive offense, it was their defense that carried them all season long and stepped it up to another level in January.
After quietly leading the league in sacks in the regular season, the ‘Hawks held the Panthers to 212 yards of total offense and completely shutdown Smith and Jake Delhomme. Rookie linebacker Lofa Tatupu looked like a grizzly-vet in the playoffs and he showed a rare form of leadership for a 23-year-old playing in his first playoffs.
Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Steelers took perhaps the hardest route to the big game in NFL history. After road wins in Cincinnati and Indianapolis, Ben Roethlisberger led his squad to a convincing victory in Denver.
Unlike in last season’s playoffs, Bill Cowher and the coaching staff let Big Ben cut the ball loose and he responded 275 yards and two touchdowns.
Jerome Bettis, presumably in his last of 13 seasons, will return to his hometown of Detroit to try and capture his first championship.
The Bus has carried the load in Pittsburgh for 10 years, and if he could get a ring to go along with his solid career, only the Hall of Fame would be next in line.
Finally, this game presents another chance for Cowher to bring a victory parade to downtown Pittsburgh. Losing in his only other Super Bowl appearance to the Cowboys in 1995, Cowher can only pray this will finally be the day that he and team owner Art Rooney have coveted.
The Steelers look like a team of destiny. After surviving Bettis’ late fumble in Indianapolis and the injury to Carson Palmer in round one, the Steel Curtain are on the verge of winning their first Super Bowl since 1980.
So you want a prediction to take to Vegas? Here you go: Steelers 24, Seahawks 13.