Who Am I?

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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

SUPER BOWL XLV PREVIEW: THE PICK

 

It is finally here…

Super Bowl XLV is set to kickoff at 5:29 PM (CT). Two of the most passionate and well traveled fan bases are set to converge on Cowboys Stadium.


I have the best seat to watch the game…




Are you f#*&ing kidding me?! In order to pay for seats to the game, I would have to sell a kidney. It would probably have to be my favorite one as well: good ole lefty.

No…. THIS will be my seating area for the game!



No waiting in line for food. No waiting in line for the bathroom. It is warm instead of standing outside in the cold at the party plaza area outside of Cowboys Stadium. I can watch the commercials during the game.

Most importantly… no traffic going to and from the stadium.

So…. The game….

A COWBOYS CONNECTION

Even though the Cowboys’ season horribly crashed and burned which resulted in many fans rioting in the streets and rescinding their Cowboys fandom did not result in them becoming the first team to play in their own stadium for a Super Bowl, they are still involved in this game.

The Cowboys VERY first game in franchise history was against the Steelers on September 24, 1960. The Steelers won the game 35-28, and it was the beginning of the Cowboys 0-11-1 season. The following season, the two teams met in the regular season opener in Dallas, this time the Cowboys emerged victorious 27-24 for their first victory in franchise history. The teams met every year from 1960-1969 with the Cowboys claiming a 9-7 record (that’s good enough to win the NFC West these days…). From 1965-72 the Cowboys won seven games in a row.

After the league merger in 1970, the Cowboys were placed in the NFC which contained the league’s older teams, while the Steelers along with the Browns and Colts moved over to the AFC which contained the teams from old American Football League. Combined with the drafting skills of the Rooneys and Coach Chuck Knoll the Steelers were able to build a dynasty around core players such as defensive end “Mean” Joe Green from North Texas State University the University of North Texas and quarterback Terry Bradshaw who became sick and tired of the old Steelers ways of loosing from the previous 37 years. The Steelers won their first post-season game in team history on this play:


During the 1970s, the Cowboys and Steelers met in two Super Bowls: X and XIII. Both games were decided by four points and solidified the Steelers as the team of the 1970s


In the 90s, the Cowboys won four consecutive matchups including their last Super Bowl victory solidifying their place as (and this is coming from a Cowboys fan) one of the LUCKIEST teams to ever win the Super Bowl and in the end it was Barry Switzer who had the competency of a blind baboon coaching Jimmy Johnson’s players. Coach Johnson deserves a Super Bowl ring from that team. Hell, an actual blind baboon would have led that team to a 12-4 record AND possibly even more Super Bowls the team of the 1990s.

Ben Roethlisberger achieved one of his signature victories in his rookie season with a 24-20 win over the Cowboys at the junction of TX-183, TX-114, Spur-482, and Loop 12 Texas Stadium in 2004. In 2008, the Steelers won a key December game that continued their spark towards their sixth Super Bowl victory and second title in four seasons.

The Cowboys hold a 14-13 edge in the regular season, while the Steelers hold a 2-1 mark in the Super Bowl. Overall the series is evenly matched at 15-15.

The Dallas-Green Bay series has been one of streaks. The dominance of one team took place during that team’s dynasty era: the Packers in the 1960s winning six in a row from 1960-68, the Cowboys won eight in row from 1991-96 with seven of those contests taking place at Texas Stadium. Quarterback Brett Favre NEVER won a game at Dallas during his time with the Packers. Favre would not beat the Cowboys until he was with Minnesota Vikings defeating Dallas in the 2009 playoffs and in a 2010 matchup featuring teams over hyped in the preseason in a must win situation. Since being the starting the quarterback of the Packers, Aaron Rodgers has compiled a 2-1 record against Dallas; Favre had two wins…. and nine losses.

Another weird anomaly about the Dallas-Green Bay series is that the regular season series is tied at 12. The Cowboys are 8-4 when playing in Dallas, while the Packers are 8-4 when playing in the state of Wisconsin.

What this series is better known for is the two games that took place at the end of the 1966 and 1967 NFL seasons. The Cowboys were the up and comers in the league, while the Packers were the measuring stick of success.

In the 1966 NFL Championship game, the Cowboys appeared to keep pace with the Packers. In the fourth quarter, Bart Starr found Max McGee for a 28-yard touchdown that appeared to give the Packers the lead for good at 34-20. Don Meredith hit receiver Frank Clark in stride for a 68-yard touchdown pass that cut the lead in half.


Down by seven, the Cowboys drove the football to inside the Packer 10-yard line. A series of penalties, bad play calling by Tom Landry, and stiff Packers defense kept the Cowboys out the end zone for three plays.

On the final play of the game, Don Meredith rolled out to his right and while being hit heaved pass in desperation to the end zone, only to be intercepted by Packers cornerback Tom Brown. It was the only turnover in the game. It preserved the Packers 34-27 win, secured their second consecutive NFL championship, and sent them to play in the inaugural NFL-AFL Championship Game where they demolished the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10.

Wonder why that game does not get as much attention? The rematch in the 1967 NFL Championship Game can be described in three words:

The Ice Bowl.


The Cowboys, after being down 14-0 in the second quarter, led 17-14 after running back Dan Reeves threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Lance Rentzel early in the fourth quarter. With 4:50 left to play in regulation from their own 32-yard line, Bart Starr who has only one postseason loss as an NFL starting quarterback led one of the most iconic drives in NFL history. With key passes to Boyd Dowler, Donny Anderson, and Chuck Mercein, the Packers were able to drive to the Dallas 3 yard line as time was running out. With 15 seconds remaining on third and goal, the Packers took their final timeout. Instead of handing the ball off, Bart Starr audibled to a quarterback sneak….


The Packers won that game, 21-17. Since then the Packers have not beaten the Cowboys in the playoffs. Their last playoff game in Dallas was the 1995 NFC Championship Game, which the Cowboys won 38-27 en route to their third Super Bowl title in four years.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2010 regular season started with their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being suspended for the first four games of the season due to some questionable off the field behavior. During Roethlisberger’s suspension, the Steelers were able to post a 3-1 record with a 15-9 overtime victory over the Falcons in the season opener and relying on their defense in road wins against the Titans and Buccaneers. The Steelers were under a minute from a 4-0 start, but Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s 18-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Who’s-your-momma Hoosh-mah-zilly Houshmandzadeh handed the Steelers their first loss in 2010.

Roethlisberger returned to lineup after their bye week where they won two consecutive games against the Browns and the Dolphins in Miami followed by losing two of their next three against the Saints and Patriots. It appeared that the Steelers were at a critical junction in their season at 6-3. Pittsburgh won six of their final seven games which included a key win in Baltimore where safety Troy Polamalu provided the play that gave the Steelers the inside edge to win the AFC North and the #2 seed in the AFC Playoffs. The Steelers finished the season with the #2 ranked defense in yards per game with linebackers James Harrison, James Farrior, LaMarr Woodley, and Lawrence Timmons and 2010 Defensive Player of the Year safety Troy Polamalu who collected seven interceptions returning one for a touchdown.


The Steelers playoff run has not been that impressive. Baltimore miscues in the second half fueled a Steelers comeback. Despite holding the Ravens to their season low of 126 yards on offense, the Steelers surrendered 24 points.

The next week in the AFC Championship game, it appeared that the Steelers were on the verge of running the Jets out of Pittsburgh scoring the game’s first 24 points. However the Jets nearly pulled off the comeback due to Steelers second half miscues. Roethlisberger completed only ten passes for 133 yards, but the biggest completion was to Antonio Brown for 14 yards on third down late in the game.


It was the second week in the row that receiver Antonio Brown has made a key catch on third down. Against the Ravens, Brown made a 58-yard catch and run on third and long that set up the game winning touchdown.


The Green Bay Packers started the season defeating the Philadelphia Eagles on the road, but lost running back Ryan Grant for the season due to leg injury. 15 players for the Packers ended up on injured reserve this season. In a Monday Night matchup against the Bears in Chicago, the Packers lost 20-17 and set a franchise record for penalties in a game with 18. Despite putting up stellar numbers that made the Green Bay faithful forget about Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers went through a string of concussions. The first one suffered in a loss against the Redskins and later in a surprise 7-3 loss at Detroit late in the season that sidelined him against the Patriots.

The Packers followed up consecutive losses to the Redskins and Dolphins with four consecutive wins over the Vikings at Lambeau, Jets, Cowboys, and against the Vikings in Minneapolis. During those three games from the Jets to the Vikings, the Packers outscored the opposition 83-10.

The Packers have never trailed by more than seven points in a contest during the season. Despite having six losses on their record, all of those losses were by less than eight points.

Since losing to the Patriots 31-27 in Week 15 due to miscommunication between backup quarterback Matt Flynn and the sideline on the final play of the game, the Packers have been playing playoff football in their last five contests. Aaron Rodgers has been playing with a hot hand with receivers Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, and James Jones. Running back James Jones has come up big in the Packers playoff run. And it also helps to have the #5 ranked defense in the NFL. Linebacker Clay Matthews who finished second in the voting for defensive player of the year behind… Troy Polamalu, lineman B.J. Raji, and cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams are key parts of the highly ranked defensive unit.

The Packers roared out to a 14-0 halftime lead. In the second half, it appeared that the offense was sputtering. In the fourth quarter, B.J. Raji picked off a Caleb Haine pass and rumbled into the end zone giving the Packers a two touchdown lead with six minutes remaining.


Sam Shields secured the Packers trip to Dallas with an interception with 45 seconds remaining in the game… and won a bet I had with a Navy buddy.


By winning the NFC, the Packers became the first #6 seed from that conference to play in the Super Bowl. The last #6 seed to play in a Super Bowl: the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers become the third team in six seasons to play all of their playoff games on the road. The last team to play all of their road games en route to a Super Bowl Title: 2007 New York Football Giants.

The Packers felt slighted by comments made by President Barack Obama, who is a Bears fan, when he said that if the Bears won the NFC Championship, then he would be in attendance for the game. Well… the Bears didn’t win and instead will be hosting his own Super Bowl party at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with Senators Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) in attendance. (See… the Super Bowl can bring out bi-partisanship)

Cornerback Charles Woodson had this to say:



SO…. THE GAME?

I am going with the team that has gold in their uniform scheme.

Okay… that is such a Wuss/Howard Conrad Bet

This is one of the best matchups we have.

The Steelers have experience in their pocket as a majority of their players have played in either Super Bowl XL or XLIII. The Packers only have two players that have played in this game. Both defensive coordinators, Dick LeBeau and Dom Capers, know how to scheme and put their best players in a position to make plays. Both head coaches Mike McCarthy and Mike Tomlin represent the toughness their teams express.

Ben Roethlisberger and Steelers have the opportunity to cement their argument as a dynasty by winning three Super Bowls in seven seasons. There are talks that Roethlisberger would be considered Hall of Fame material (for his on the field performances) if he was to lead the Steelers to victory this evening.

The Packers have proven that they can go toe-to-toe with any team in the NFC especially during this playoff run. If there is a team that was similar in offensive style to the Packers, it would be the Patriots with their spread it out offense. Both defenses are similar in style with the speed, size, and strength of their linebackers and defensive backs.

The key to this game will be how well each team’s offensive line protects their quarterback. Both Rodgers and Roethlisberger have the ability to extend plays with their feet, but it will be interesting to see how they will be able to counter the quickness of the opposing defenses and the schemes they will encounter during the game. The Steelers will be without rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, who suffered an ankle injury during the AFC Title Game. When taking a snap from a new center, Roethlisberger fumbled the ball resulting in a safety in that same game. That could be the difference in the game.

At the beginning of the season I wrote this:

In the NFC, there are three other teams besides Green Bay that could make that trip to Dallas in February: New Orleans, Minnesota, and of course, Dallas. I think the Packers over the last few seasons have turned themselves into a contender and can go toe-to-toe with any team in the NFC.

Aaron Rodgers is playing the best football of his young career. I made my prediction at the beginning of the season, and as a man of my word, I will stand by my pick.

The last time Green Bay won a game in Dallas: 24 December 1989, a 20-10 victory over the Cowboys where the toilets froze at Texas Stadium.

The last time Green Bay won a POST SEASON game in Dallas: 1 January 1967, a 34-27 victory where the defense held off a final offensive drive by the Cowboys in the waning seconds of the contest to claim their second consecutive NFL championship and their fourth in the 1960s.

Aaron Rodgers will make the plays necessary to put points on the board, and the defense will come up big to bring the Lombardi back to Green Bay, WI.

THE PICK:

GREEN BAY PACKERS
31
PITTSBURGH STEELERS
27
SUPER BOWL XLV MVP: Aaron Rodgers

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