RCS Sidelines

February 1, 2011 6:14 PM

Revisiting Steelers-Packers Recent History

wallace_packers_09B.jpgAs we sort our way through the mountains of consequential news that broke this afternoon at Super Bowl Media Day (highlights: Brett Keisel calls his beard "da beard," James Harrison is still quite bitter about the fines, and some Packers players like to play "Dance Central" on Xbox 360 with their wives), I thought it'd be a good time to bring the conversation back to football and revisit the recent history between the Steelers and the Packers.

While the Packers lead the all-time series 18-14, the Steelers have won the last three meetings (1998, 2005 and 2009). The last matchup is a modern regular season classic and is particularly intriguing as we look forward to (hopefully) a competitive Super Bowl on Sunday.

First, however, let's take a look back at 2005, the Steelers' first Super Bowl-winning season since the Chuck Noll era. That year, Pittsburgh visited Lambeau Field without an injured Ben Roethlisberger to face a 1-6 Packer team (click here for full game highlights). Pittsburgh quarterback Charlie Batch only completed nine passes for 65 yards in the game. However, big plays, including a 43-yard run by Antwaan Randle-El on the first play of the game and a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Troy Polamalu, helped the Steelers prevail 20-10. They finished the season 11-5 and became the first six seed in NFL history to win the Super Bowl (coincidentally, the 2010 Packers are hoping to match that feat and become the first six seed out of the NFC to win the title).

Last year, the roles were reversed. Green Bay rode into Pittsburgh on a five-game winning streak to face a Steelers team reeling from a five-game losing streak (click here for full game highlights).

The defenses apparently made a pact before kickoff to take the game off, and, as a result, the matchup quickly evolved (or devolved?) into a real-life game of Madden. The teams combined for 73 points, Rodgers and Roethlisberger combined for 886 passing yards, and we even had a bizarre onside kick call from the Steelers when they were ahead by two with under four minutes to go.

The Packers took the lead, 36-30, after the onside kick, but the Steelers responded with an 86-yard drive that ended with a dramatic 19-yard game-winning touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace in the corner of the end zone with no time remaining.

So, what does last year's match-up tell us about the Super Bowl, if anything? The basic (and important) lesson to take away from the game is that despite all the talk of the defenses, both of these offenses can score at will when they need to. The Aaron Rodgers-led Packers are getting the lion's share of the hype, but Pittsburgh's offense can be equally explosive -- especially in the hurry-up, when Ben is arguably at his best.

Does that mean we'll see a Pro Bowl-style shootout like we saw last year? Probably not. But, odds are, one of these quarterbacks will be called upon to make a play (or multiple) plays near the end of the game. Roethlisberger has done it repeatedly -- in the regular season and in the playoffs -- but it's clear Aaron Rodgers is itching to finally prove himself on the biggest stage in sports.

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