Collier: Time for a forecast; we don't mean weather
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DALLAS -- You can lose your sense of time and place when you are ice and snowbound in Texas -- at least they say it's Texas -- so it was highly useful when Green Bay Packers wideout Greg Jennings jarred me back to semi-clarity Friday with this:
"I'm trying to envision what it will be like," he said of the Super Bowl Sunday night. "Every morning I wake up, and it's still not there."
Exactly. Thank you, thank you.
Now I know what time it is. When you hear that, in any Super Bowl week, you know we've reached the time to make a prediction, but first an apology. At this point of Super Bowl week in Tampa two years ago, you surely don't remember, I said the Steelers would beat the Arizona Cardinals, 27-24.
Turned out the Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23. For that and all 173 inaccurate predictions since February of 2009, again, my apologies.
Anyway, onward and, uh, onward.
When you analyze the matchup that is Super Bowl XLV, or as I like to call it, PGH-PACK I, the first thing you have to consider is Pittsburgh's experience. As the Steelers are most of the way through their third Super Bowl week in six years, and since that same six-year period of Super Bowl history is 100 percent Packers-free, this would figure to be important.
Without the benefit of experience, for example, how would Ben Roethlisberger know to take his offensive line to a piano bar and, according to TMZ, "sing his face off" until 1:45 a.m.?
"I haven't been out carousing," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the morning after Steelers karaoke. "I am a homebody, so I've been spending a lot of time in my hotel room watching film."
What did you expect? He's Mr. Rodgers.
The Green Bay quarterback is the most productive player on either team right now, partly because his maturity has paralleled nicely with the Packers' peak performances.
"I just look at Aaron Rodgers as a quarterback that's really developing and delivering on time," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "He stayed true to his craft and very true to his fundamentals. He's an expert of the offense. He has the ability to run the whole offense, if needed, at the line of scrimmage. We were always confident that the productivity would come. If there was one big hurdle, it would be leadership.
"Leadership was something that we needed to have more of as a football team. It's something I've given a lot of thought to over the last couple years, creating those opportunities in particular for Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, A.J. Hawk, and the elected captains for the playoffs. Giving those men an opportunity to be in front of the team more, our leadership has definitely picked up. I'd say that's the biggest hurdle and the biggest improvement in Aaron Rodgers."
There is about Rodgers what smells like destiny this week, with all manner of unlikely people fueling it, like former Steelers running back John Kuhn.
"Aaron has been on fire here in the playoffs, just like Ben was that year ," Kuhn said. "Both were playing tremendous football at that time, and I think it's going to be a duel out there Sunday. I think they both give their teams great chances to win, and I think Aaron's ready."
You don't really have to look far for evidence that McCarthy's team is fully capable of delivering only the second Steelers Super Bowl loss in eight appearances. If you did you could delve into some history, but be careful where you look.
Dick LeBeau got the customary royal treatment from the media this week, and few would deserve it more, but recent Super Bowl history shows that his defense in Tampa two years ago, even with two weeks of preparation, got ripped for 377 passing yards by Kurt Warner. If James Harrison hadn't made merely the greatest defensive play in Super Bowl history, the 100-yard touchdown run with an interception at the end of the first half, you'd very likely be looking at Cardinals 30, Steelers 20. I hope Santonio Holmes doesn't think he won Super Bowl 43 in the final minutes. Harrison won it 30 minutes previous with what was essentially a 14-point play.
Neither is it a wonderful omen that among the hundreds of Super Bowl and quasi-Super Bowl events this week was one of those key-to-the-city presentations in Arlington to Super Bowl 30 MVP Larry Brown, who now hosts a Dallas Cowboys pregame show in the area.
Brown, should the name have slipped your mind, is the cornerback whose two interceptions handed the Steelers their only Super Bowl loss. I didn't go to the key-to-the-city event, but the presentation was made by a Dr. Robert Cluck.
I guess Neil O'Donnell wasn't unavailable.
So pretty much from one end to the other, this week has had an almost palpable feel of impending Packers success, which in my experience can mean only one thing.
Steelers 28, Packers 26.
First Published February 5, 2011 12:00 am