Super Bowl Preview

January 27, 2009 — by Karthik Annaamalai

After a long and trying season, the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers each have a chance to establish themselves as the best team in the NFL. The Super Bowl is unique in that the participating teams only have one game to prove themselves, whereas other sports involve a seven-game series. The Cardinals and the Steelers have 60 minutes to give it their all, to leave everything on the field, because after this game, the season is over.

The NFC champion, Arizona is the clear underdog in this match-up. To win their first-ever Super Bowl in franchise history, they need accomplish two things:

1. Protect quarterback Kurt Warner
Three Cardinal receivers gained over 1,000 yards during the regular season, leading the league’s second-best passing offense. Gaining yards through the air will obviously be a huge part of the Cardinals’ strategy because the team was also ranked last in rushing yards. The Cardinals will need to protect Warner long enough for him to get rid of the ball, especially in the face of blitzes the Steelers will send throughout the game. Warner does have experience under pressure, however, as he led the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl victory during the 1999 season and earned the Super Bowl MVP award along the way. The Cardinals need to get the ball into the hands of receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has already broken Jerry Rice’s record for most receiving yards in a single post season and has scored five touchdowns in the last three games. Fitzgerald has the size, the speed and the talent to make him a very tough receiver to cover. If the Cardinals can get the ball to Fitzgerald, he can take care of the rest.

2. Defense needs to step up
The Cardinals have shut down three of the league’s top running backs in their last three game: Michael Turner of the Atlanta Falcons, DeAngelo Williams of the Carolina Panthers and Brian Westbrook of the Philadelphia Eagles. Arizona will face another challenge in the Steelers’ Willie Parker, but if the defense can limit Pittsburgh’s ground game, they will be able to capitalize on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s mistakes.

The AFC champion Steelers, on the other hand, are under even more pressure because they are expected to win. Many fans expect the Cardinals to lose, but if they can pull off an upset the Steelers will lose a lot of respect. To ensure that this does not happen, the Steelers will need to:

1. Force Turnovers
The Pittsburgh defense, ranked first in the NFL, is known for its ability to shut teams down. But that might not be enough to stop the Cardinals. The Steelers need to force turnovers, something they have struggled with all season, though safety Troy Polamalu did return an interception for a touchdown in the Steelers’ last game against the Baltimore Ravens. It must be taken into account, however, that the Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco is far less skilled than the veteran Warner.

2. Establish their passing game
Though the Cards have been playing exceptionally well the past couple of post season games, the Steelers must to set up their offence by attacking the Cards through the air. Roethlisberger has to be on the same page as his favorite receiver, Hines Ward, with whom he has connected 81 times this season for over 1,000 yards. Ward will be able to outplay rookie cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie because he has more experience and Rogers-Cromartie is prone to getting beat deep. The Steelers also need Parker to step it up as he did in the first playoff game, in which he rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns against the San Diego Chargers.

Prediction: Steelers: 21, Cardinals: 27

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
Prove that you're human:

Photo of the week

At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.

Poll

Do you like remote learning?

Navigation

Falcon In Print

Prime time for Indian culture

Scanners streamline tutorial sign-ins

New quarantine policy enforced for coronavirus

Career Day returns to introduce professional paths