Without question, though, Green Bay will need to pass successfully to win its first Super Bowl since the 1996 season. The Packers like to empty their backfield, a dangerous gambit against Pittsburgh's front seven and blitzers. But they can get some good matchups in those situations, whether it's WRs Greg Jennings (85) on Taylor or Donald Driver on Bryant McFadden (20). Driver excels over the middle, but that's where Polamalu and Ryan Clark (25) lurk, and there aren't two more punishing safeties around.
Rodgers has gotten a lot of mileage out of James Jones (89) and Jordy Nelson (87) and both will have key roles at Dallas Cowboys Stadium. If Rodgers can spread the ball around and keep the Steelers' pass rush off-balance, Green Bay has an excellent chance.
Steelers PK Shaun Suisham (6), who replaced veteran Jeff Reed in midseason, has been superb, making 16 of 18 field goals; Pittsburgh is a difficult place to kick.
So is Lambeau Field and Mason Crosby (2) has made 24 of 31, including a 56-yarder. Neither has kicked under the glaring spotlight of a Super Bowl.
The rest of the Steelers' special teams are adequate. Brown had one kickoff runback for a score during the season. P Jeremy Kapinos (13) doesn't always get great coverage accompanying his kicks.
First-year punter Tim Masthay (8) for Green Bay has been efficient if not spectacular. He had an excellent NFC title game, keeping the ball away from All-Pro returner Devin Hester.
Green Bay gave up more yards than it gained per punt and kickoff this season.
A Pittsburgh victory would give Mike Tomlin two titles in his first four seasons as head coach, tying Joe Gibbs' achievement with Washington. Tomlin, only the third Steelers coach since 1969, is a master motivator who also gives his coordinators — Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau on defense, Bruce Arians on offense — lots of say.
Tomlin needed to guide the Steelers through some early difficulties and did so masterfully. Roethlisberger's four-game suspension could have put the team in a deep hole. Instead, with a trio of replacements at quarterback, Pittsburgh started 3-1.
The Steelers lost key defensive end Aaron Smith (91) for a big chunk of the season. In 2009, that sent them into a spiral. Not this time.
Tomlin also got the team back on track in the divisional playoff game against Baltimore after it fell behind 21-7 at halftime.
Mike McCarthy might have had an even tougher chore because the Packers placed 15 players on injured reserve this season, an absurd number. That included starting RB Ryan Grant, playmaking TE Jermichael Finley and LB Nick Barnett.
Thanks to the depth the Pack built at so many positions, though, they not only survived, but prospered. Still, McCarthy and his staff, particularly defensive coordinator Dom Capers, deserve tremendous credit for rapidly developing backups and having faith in them.
McCarthy also has a strong relationship with Rodgers that has been critical in the QB's development since the Brett Favre purge in 2008.
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