31 January 2006

Superbowl XL


It is no secret I am now a Pittsburgh Steelers fan who is definitely looking forward to Superbowl XL. I was just at http://msn.foxsports.com when I noticed they are comparing the Seahawks with the Steelers. They broke the teams up and graded the different parts of the team. So far, from what I have seen, they seem pretty accurate about the Steelers, so I am guessing the have the Seahawks rated pretty well also. Here is how they are rated:







REPORT CARD PLAYOFF OVERVIEW - Steelers

PASSING OFFENSE:
A

-- How much better could Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers be? Roethlisberger has completed 68.1 percent of his passes, thrown seven touchdowns and just one interception and has a 124.8 passer rating. He has spread the ball around among eight receivers in three playoff games. He even made the saving tackle in Indianapolis.

RUSHING OFFENSE:
C+

-- The running game has not been as dynamic as it was during the regular season, but one reason is defenses have stacked to stop the run and force them to go to the air, and they did. Still, their average of 3.2 yards per carry is low. They have 346 yards rushing in three games, not bad but not up to their 138.9-yard average per game in the regular season.

PASS DEFENSE:
B+

-- Except for a few lapses in which they allowed big plays on several drives, it's hard to argue how the Steelers have defended the pass. They've held quarterbacks to 59.6 percent completions with three touchdowns, four interceptions, 12 sacks and a 75.3 rating. Plus, those weren't all ordinary Joes they faced in the playoffs, including Peyton Manning in the second game and Jake Plummer in the AFC title game.

RUSH DEFENSE:
B+

-- They've allowed only 239 rushing yards and three touchdowns in three games, but offenses also had to abandon the running game as they fell behind early. Yet when they did run, they were reasonably successful, averaging 4.3 yards against Pittsburgh. With league MVP Shaun Alexander coming up, the Steelers will need better play than that against the run.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
B+

-- Nary a mistake on special teams except for the odd kickoff out of bounds. Half of Chris Gardocki's dozen punts landed inside the 20 and there has been only 13 yards on four returns against him. Antwaan Randle El averaged 10.5 yards on eight punt returns for the Steelers. Their kickoff coverage also has done a decent job, holding opponents to 21.4 yards on average. Jeff Reed is 3-for-3 on field goal tries and, while the Steelers may have had nothing to do with it, opponents missed one very big field goal - Mike Vanderjagt's 46-yard try that went awry and would have tied it for the Colts.

COACHING:
A

-- Bill Cowher has the reputation of not winning the big one, for good reason. But he's refashioned his image after his team won three straight on the road in the playoffs, only the second team in history to do that. If they beat the Seahawks, his legacy will have changed overnight. The Steelers have played brilliantly through the playoffs, a testament to Cowher. Coordinators Ken Whisenhunt on offense and Dick LeBeau on defense have called near faultless games, been unpredictable and highly effective.





REPORT CARD PLAYOFF OVERVIEW - Seahawks

PASSING OFFENSE:
A

-- QB Matt Hasselbeck has completed 67 percent of his passes in two playoff games with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 109.6 rating. Hasselbeck makes the offense work. He has checked off effectively at the line when appropriate. He has scrambled for key first downs when unable to find open receivers. He has avoided turnovers. WR Darrell Jackson has caught 15 passes in the playoffs, giving him 27 catches in his last three playoff games. TE Jerramy Stevens is beating mismatches. The key against Pittsburgh will be protection, but so far the passing game has shown no signs of slowing.

RUSHING OFFENSE:
C

-- RB Shaun Alexander gained some redemption with his 132-yard game against Carolina in the NFC title game. Alexander needed a big game after missing most of the divisional game against Washington with a concussion. FB Mack Strong picked up some of the slack in that game, putting away the Redskins with a 32-yard run on third-and-6 in the fourth quarter. Despite that run, Seattle is averaging only 3.7 yards per attempt in the playoffs.

PASS DEFENSE:
A

-- Opposing quarterbacks have two touchdowns, three interceptions, four sacks and a 61.3 rating. Redskins QB Mark Brunell emerged with a decent rating, but he was mostly ineffective. Seattle dominated against Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, picking him off three times while holding WR Steve Smith to five catches for 33 yards. The Seahawks have been able to get pressure with their front four, something that had been a problem late in the regular season.

RUSH DEFENSE:
A

-- Washington and Carolina combined to average 2.6 yards per carry with a long run of 15 yards. Seattle relies on a swarming style to overcome a lack of size in the front seven. MLB Lofa Tatupu and OLB Leroy Hill have done a great job getting to opposing runners.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
C

-- P Tom Rouen has had five punts downed inside the 20. His lone bad punt in the playoffs resulted in a touchdown return for the Panthers. The NFL admitted that officials erred on the play, which should have been negated by a Carolina penalty. Seattle had some serious problems in the punt-return game against Washington. Coaches addressed the issue by putting WR Peter Warrick on punt returns against Carolina. He secured the ball effectively but didn't break any returns.

COACHING:
A

-- The performance against Carolina featured the near-flawless execution of a solid game plan. The defensive staff showed some imagination by sending linebackers to jam Panthers WR Steve Smith at the line of scrimmage. The offensive staff dusted off a 28-yard pass to backup QB Seneca Wallace. Coach Mike Holmgren is getting the most out of his players when it really matters.

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