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Tomlin Report - Super Bowl XLV

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It's almost game day in Dallas. Two great defenses that mirror one another. Two great quarterbacks who extend plays and thrive on chaos. Two of the NFL's most storied--and most successful--franchises. The two most passionate fan bases in the country. On Sunday at 6:29 PM, the Steelers and Packers finally meet in Super Bowl XLV.


Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers
Sunday, February 6 – 6:29 PM on FOX
at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX


STEELERS INJURY UPDATE
C Maurkice Pouncey has not practiced with the team since suffering a high ankle sprain in the AFC Championship Game. Pouncey denied the earlier report that he was suffering from a broken bone in his ankle. Pouncey listed his chances of playing earlier in the week at about 75%, but it is unlikely that Tomlin will play the young center if he is unable to practice on Friday. At this point, he’s somewhere between QUESTIONABLE and DOUBTFUL.

DE Aaron Smith’s chances of playing this Sunday are “fading” according to coach Tomlin, meaning that the decision to keep him on the active roster after an early-season triceps injury (a move that cost them rookie linebacker Thaddeus Gibson), may have been a bust. Smith did have limited participation in practice on Wednesday, but he should be DOUBTFUL for Sunday’s game.

PACKERS INJURY UPDATE
After being dragged through a gauntlet of injuries in the regular season, the Packers active roster is surprisingly healthy going into the Super Bowl.

MIKE LIKED…
Rookie Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, who may not be able to suit up for his first Super Bowl appearance.

“Maurkice Pouncey is, without question, the best rookie football player I've ever been around,” said Tomlin. “I don't care whether or not he wins Rookie of the Year, or what other people think about him. His contributions to this football team have been nothing short of miraculous. We respect him. He loves football. He's extremely talented, but more importantly than that, he has unbelievable football character. This guy loves what is seemingly drudgery for others. The things that make him a great football player are the things that are special. He embraces it all. He wants to be great. He loves to work, and he respects those who have come before him. I think that's why he's had the success that he's had.”

MAIN STORYLINE FOR SUNDAY
Dom Capers and Dick LeBeau were coaches for the Steelers teams of the early 90’s and bring similar styles to the defensive side of the ball. Which of the two coordinators will out-scheme the opposing offense better?

PACKERS TO WATCH
QB Aaron Rodgers; WRs Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and Jordy Nelson; RB James Starks; OTs Chad Clifton and Brian Bulaga; OG Daryn Colledge; DEs Cullen Jenkins and Ryan Pickett; NT B.J. Raji; OLB Clay Matthews; ILB A.J. Hawk; CBs Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams; FS Nick Collins; K Mason Crosby; P Tim Masthay

LOCAL CONNECTIONS
· Head coach Mike McCarthy is a native of Greenfield.
· D-coordinator Dom Capers served as DC for the Steelers from 92-94.
· OLB coach Kevin Greene played for the Steelers from 1993-95.
· QB coach Tom Clements (McKees Rocks) coached for the Steelers.
· TE coach Ben McAdoo is an IUP grad and coached at Pitt in '03.
· Assistant Scott McCurley (New Castle) played (98-02) at Pitt.
· Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum also coached at Pitt in 1990.
· DB coach Darren Perry played at PSU (89-91), and played (92-98) and coached (03-06) for the Steelers.
· Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin played tight end at W&J.
· Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac is a Youngstown, Ohio native.
· FB John Kuhn originally signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie in 2005.
· TE Andew Quarless played at Penn State.

ACCORDING TO TOMLIN
“Just like last time when we were in this game, it's our intention to enjoy all of the elements that this week has in store for us and not fight against it. Part of you are somewhat resistant to some of the things, but we're not going to make a negative out of what a wonderful week that we have awaiting us. We are going to embrace it all, enjoy it all, and of course ultimately prepare and play in the football game.”
– An excerpt from his opening address shortly after landing in Dallas on Monday.

“It's probably about two Super Bowls too short of my vision” – When asked if making it to two Super Bowls in his first four years met with his personal expectations.

“You get yourself into trouble when you have preconceived notions about how the game is going to unfold. That was an exciting, entertaining game we had against them a year ago. I'm sure that none of us are really pleased in hindsight looking at that game. I don't feel good about 37-36 personally.” – On whether he expects this year’s meeting to unfold like the 37-36 shootout between the two teams last season.

“All of them. We subscribe to every man in the helmet is capable of being the reason why we win. If you have a helmet on, you're a guy who is capable of making deciding plays.” – Answering which players need to step up for this team to pull out its seventh Super Bowl win.

“It certainly is, because it keeps perspective on what they are currently doing. A lot of times when you are a young guy and you experience success, you can wear your hand out patting yourself on the back. We‘re fortunate enough to be a part of an organization where just about anything we do is has been done before and is probably going to be done again.” – On if the tradition and history of the franchise is good for the players and coaches.

“I don't know yet. I don’t do a lot of preparation from that standpoint. I want it to be authentic. I want it to be real. I don't give a lot of thought to it. I kind of go with the flow, and if it overcomes me, it does. And usually it does.” – When asked if he has given any thought to what he will say to his players in his pre-game speech before taking the field on Sunday.

“They stay close to people. As an old secondary coach, when you got guys who can stay close to people, you got a shot because you can challenge throws.” – Discussing the Green Bay secondary, which features two Pro Bowlers in Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams.

“He is a servant leader. He tries to lead through service, and I do the same. I learned that from him in providing the men what they need to be great. Every day when I go to work, I don't think about things I have to do, I think about the things I can do to make my men successful. So I have a servant's mentality in terms of how I approach my job, and I get that from coach (Dungy).” – On what he learned in his years serving under coach Tony Dungy. Tomlin served as the defensives backs coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Dungy was the head coach and is considered to be a member of the Dungy coaching tree.

“I‘m trying to enjoy it more. Last time, I tried to micro-manage these moments leading up to the game. I‘m letting my hair down some.” – Discussing what his plans are for this Super Bowl experience.

LOOK FOR…
Emmanuel Sanders to have a big game with the Green Bay defense focusing on Mike Wallace and Hines Ward. Sanders has shown his value in the postseason thus far and could rack up a few big catches on third-down.

STEELERS SPLASH TALK
“I think the key, really, is surrounding yourself with the right people. You have to have the right people to get the job done, and we‘ve been fortunate over the years to have a lot of great players and great coaches and people like Kevin Colbert handling the draft. It‘s a lot of pieces that make it work, but certainly having the right people in the right spots is the key.”
– Steelers Chairman Art Rooney discussing how his Pittsburgh Steelers maintain success year after year in a parity-driven league.

“Well the pregame speeches are something I feel, I never really rehearse it, I never really think about what I’m going to say. I just want it to come from the heart. I want it to be original. I just try to get a feel for how the guys are in the locker room and what I need to do to motivate them. I really don’t  know what I’m going to say this week. It all comes from the head and it’s a spur of the moment thing. I don’t know what I’m going to say this time.” – Defensive captain James Farrior discussing the pre-game speech he will give his team on Sunday.

“Because he’s like a father to you. He’s like a father figure, someone that you look up to. You respect him because of who he is. You respect him because he’s played the game. You respect him because he’s been in the game for 50 years. You respect him because he respects you. You don’t want to go out there and let him down. You don’t want to let your father down, so you don’t want to go out there and let him down.” – OLB James Harrison on why the players respond so well to Hall-of-Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

"I don't want to hurt nobody, I don't want to step on nobody's foot and hurt their toe, I don't want to have no dirt or none of this rubber on the field fly into their eye and make their eye hurt, I just want to tackle them softly on the ground and, if y'all can, lay a pillow down where I'm going to tackle them so they don't hit the ground too hard, Mr. Goodell." – Harrison making a joke about this year’s player safety policies. Harrison was hit with numerous fines during the season for what were deemed illegal hits.

“They love it. I can’t walk by a teammate without him saying ‘fear the beard,’ and my coaches and all that. It’s been a lot of fun. I think it’s something that keeps guys relaxed and something they can smile at when they’re walking by.” – DE Brett Keisel discussing his teammates’ response to the now-famous beard he’s been growing for the last eight months.

“Steeler Nation is strong. They’ve accepted the beard. They believe in the beard, and we believe in them.” – Keisel on the reaction he’s received from the fans.

“We really just try to live up to the standard of our team. It doesn’t matter if we’re young or not, Coach Tomlin always says that the standard is the standard on our team no matter who’s in there. I think Hines (Ward) and (Antwaan) Randle El and Arnaz Battle have really helped our development because they’ve seen a lot of things and all three of those guys were on different teams last year. So we take different things from what all three of those guys saw and they teach us, and we just use it in our game. We don’t know everything so we just try to listen to the older guys.” – WR Mike Wallace discussing the success of the young rookie receivers for the Steelers.

“It would count somewhat, but here in Pittsburgh it’s a higher standard because you have the Steel Curtain in front of you with four. It’s kind of hard to match that, so I think that if you’re the Pittsburgh Steelers, you have to get four to really be a dynasty.” – OLB LaMarr Woodley on whether winning this Super Bowl, the team’s third in six years, would make this Steelers team a “dynasty.”

“Oh, so much swagger. So much swagger. He‘s always like that. He never gets ruffled. And if he did, he‘d never show it.” – OG Chris Kemoeatu on Tomlin’s “cool” demeanor.

“I learned a lot from other guys. I‘ve broken a lot of film down of Ed Reed, of Rodney Harrison, of Brian Dawkins, of Sean Taylor, Bob Sanders, Adrian Wilson. I‘ve watched almost every play of most of their careers. I try to incorporate their style of what they do well into my game. And some of it I‘m not capable of doing because they‘re more athletic. Some of it I was able to do, and then you can form that into your own game.” – Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu on how he has developed and honed his trademark style of play.

“It definitely changed, but it‘s just backyard football. Whoever‘s deep has to come shallow and whoever‘s shallow has to come deep. And the good thing is we actually practice that at practice. Sometimes you‘ll be wide open in practice but Ben will just scramble out just so we can practice it because he knows that‘s the kind of football we play and it‘s been successful.” – WR Emmanuel Sanders discussing how much more comfortable he is playing receiver with a quarterback who has no issues letting the play break down and improvising.

“Yeah, I bought into it. I think more than anything it means somebody goes down and somebody steps in there, there can‘t be any falloff in play. You have to deliver just as much as the guy in front of you. I think if we can do that we can get a win.” – C Doug Legursky answering whether he accepts Tomlin’s trademark philosophy: “the standard is the standard."

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMM…
The Steelers could be on their way to a seventh Super Bowl if the team can grab the lead going into the fourth quarter. According to Football Outsider’s advanced metrics, Green Bay had one of the league’s best offenses in the first three quarters, but has been below average in the fourth quarter both in the regular season and postseason.

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