More Steelers Super Bowl Ruminations

I can't bring myself to stop thinking and writing about the Pittsburgh Steeleres 31-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV. It's been more than 48 hours since the final second ticked off the clock in the final game of the 2010 NFL season, but as I've stated more than once since then, there's really no rush to start our offseason discussions just yet. With the labor situation looming ominously on the horizon, we may not have actual games to discuss until deep into next fall. So indulge me and let's go over a few more things from Sunday's Super Bowl, lesser talking points that might have gotten glossed over in our initial postgame reactions to the Steelers' futile attempt at bringing home Lombardi No. 7.

Antwaan Randle El -- Had the Steelers somehow managed to overcome the 18 point deficit they faced at one point in the first half and win, one guy who definitely would have gotten some love for his important contributions was Antwaaan Randle El. The former fan favorite finished with just two catches for 50 yards, but both went for first down yardage. The second reception was a 37 yarder on the first play of the Steelers final drive of the first half. Trailing 21-3, the Steelers absolutely had to get points before halftime since Green Bay would be getting the ball first after halftime. Randle El's 37 yarder was the catalyst for the imperative scoring march, a drive that began at the Pittsburgh 23 with only 2:18 left before half.

Jeremy Kapinos -- A nice game for the former Packers castoff. Kapinos had three punts on the evening for an average of 51 yards per punt. His most important kick came in the third quarter with the Steelers trailing 21-17. Mike Tomlin had just made the not-so-wise decision to send Shaun Suisham out for a 52 yard field goal on the Steelers previous offensive possession. After the miss, the Packers got the ball in great field position at their own 43. A 17 yarder to Jordy Nelson put the Packers at the Steelers 40 yard line before Green Bay stalled and were forced to punt. Still, the Steelers were backed up inside their own 15 yard line after the punt. The Steelers went three and out and were forced to punt with about 1 minute left in the third from their own 21 yard line. Kapinos boomed a 54 yard punt that was downed by the Steelers punt coverage team. Tack on a 15 yard penalty on Green Bay and the Packers suddenly were backed up at their own 13 yard line. An incredible flip in field position thanks to Kapinos' outstanding punt and Tramon Williams bone headed penalty. Anyway, Kapinos may not be in Pittsburgh next year, but after finishing the '09 season as the worst punter in the league statistically, he'll definitely have future opportunities to win a job somewhere in 2011.

LaMarr Woodley -- Woodley extended his streak of recording at least one sack in every postseason game he's played in, but for the most part, he was rendered ineffective. The Steelers absolutely had to have big games from either Woodley or James Harrison, and ideally both. But neither had much of an impact on the game despite both finishing with one sack. I've said it numerous times here on BTSC and I'll say it once more: I think we've seen the last of LaMarr Woodley in a Steelers uniform. Perhaps he'll be franchised for one year depending on what the new rules might be regarding franchise tags under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see Woodley in the black and gold for the prime years of his career. I just think he'll be too expensive to retain considering his age and how big of a name he is nationally. We'll see. It's going to be one of the more interesting sub-plots to this offseason.

Ryan Clark/Troy Polamalu -- Credit Aaron Rodgers for delivering perfectly timed and high-velocity throws all evening. Doing so rendered the Steelers safety tandem impotent for the evening. Neither Clark nor Polamalu was able to make a game-changing play all evening, and when you're down 18 points, it's pretty damn hard to come back without at least one turnover. What can you say though? Clark and Polamalu have both had great years as the last line of defense in the Steelers secondary. Unfortunately neither was able to do much to compensate for the advantage the Packers passing attack had over the Steelers cornerbacks.

Bryant McFadden -- Look, the Steelers definitely will be looking to bolster their depth and talent at cornerback, but I don't think it's fair to knock B-Mac for Sunday's loss. William Gay, sure. But McFadden did his best considering he suffered a painful hip injury early on in the contest. Knowing the stakes and how thin the Steelers were at CB, McFadden valiantly played through the pain, but for a guy that doesn't possess top shelf speed for his position, it was a lot to ask to have him keep up with the precise and speedy Packers aerial assault. McFadden may not be in the long term future of the Steelers, but he's definitely going to be an important contributor on next year's team. He's not tremendously expensive and even if the Steelers do use a high draft pick on a corner, it's likely that McFadden will still be viewed as an important asset next year before the reins are potentially handed over to a new, young, stud corner. I was proud of McFadden's play this year for the most part, and I think his presence is a big reason why the Steelers' secondary improved statistically so much this year compared to last.

Ben Roethlisberger -- I wrote about Big Ben's performance on Sunday night after the loss, basically saying that I didn't think it was fair for him to bear the brunt of the blame for the loss. One final thing though. We've grown so accustomed to Roethlisberger playing through pain that perhaps we've unrealistically come to expect that he'll deliver good, if not great, performances each and every time out. For as often as Big Ben has been hit, it's pretty damn remarkable that he's been able to play at such a consistently high level for the last few years. As for his performance in Super Bowl XLV, it's of course been acknowledged that Roethlisberger's performance was probably affected by the pain he was dealing with in his foot. But after thinking about it more, I'm even more impressed by his performance, and certainly more forgiving of his shortcomings, when I think about how hard it must be to deliver accurate throws when dealing with such pain in his foot. In order to throw the ball with solid mechanics, a quarterback has to have his legs underneath him. Of course, at this level you've got to be able to make all the throws under duress -- be it side armed throws, off balance throws, passes from your back foot, etc. But when you can't set your feet underneath you without feeling a boatload of pain, it's awfully tough to deliver accurate strikes on a consistent basis. I think that's why we saw Roethlisberger be less accurate than we're accustomed to. And I think it's unfair for him to be criticized too extensively when realizing how his mechanics were altered as a result of the pain he was dealing with in his lower body.

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