Close call: Moon predicts the Pack will win the 'Bowl

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Close call: Moon predicts the Pack will win the 'Bowl

Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011
11:05 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Super Bowl has had its high points in drama, ranging from the St. Louis Rams stopping the Tennessee Titans a yard short of a goal line to David Tyree making a fourth-down Velcro catch against his helmet for the New York Giants to sustain a winning drive over the New England Patriots.

And it has had its other, well, games, events where the only drama was settling on a final score in a contest won by double-digit margins. Of the last 10 Super Bowls, five have been decided by 11 points or more, including three of the last five.

But when the two best defenses in football against scoring (Pittsburgh No. 1, Green Bay No. 2) are on the field, chances rise exponentially for a smash-mouth game likely to be decided by one play, whether due to excellence or forced error, in the final 5 minutes in the fourth quarter.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in their third Super Bowl in the past six years, all behind Ben Roethlisberger, who will assume his spot among the games elite quarterbacks past and present regardless of outcome. The Green Bay Packers were in the NFC Championship in 2007, Brett Favres last game as a Packer, but have been in the playoffs two of their three seasons behind Aaron Rodgers.

The Steelers command the high ground of experience with Roethlisberger, but Rodgers has played significantly better in playoff games than in regular-season games, the hallmark of a great quarterback.

And the hallmark of a great defense is playing to its strength, which the Steelers do, regardless of quarterback.

Our game plan never changes, said safety and defensive player of the year Troy Polamalu. Its always about applying pressure. Its about tackling after the catch. You know Rodgers receivers are going to get the ball because hes such an efficient quarterback. Tackle the guys and then not give up big plays and not let the ball get over our heads.

And finally.

Games between two good teams are the most difficult to assess. Both can play to their levels, which usually guarantees something close. Or ones strength takes away one element or enough of the others to put distance between the two on the scoreboard.

That could happen Sunday but elite defenses are rarely trampled and the guess here is that wont happen to either Green Bays or Pittsburghs. Ironically, the last time the two teams faced each other was in late 2009 when Pittsburgh defeated Green Bay in the final tick of the clock when Ben Roethlisberger connected with Mike Wallace on a 19-yard touchdown pass for a 37-36 win.

I think defensively, based on watching their body of work throughout the season, and I know firsthand that our defense has improved, so with that, their defense has improved, said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. I look for the defenses to impact this game more than they did in last years game.

Indeed, the only offenses to put major points on the Packers since October were New England and Atlanta, and Pittsburgh isnt in the firepower class with either. The Steelers were burned for 39 by the Patriots, then 24 by Baltimore and 19 by the Jets in the playoffs but are still the NFLs best at keeping numbers off scoreboards.

The Packers were No. 2 in the NFL in points differential and this is the tipping point, so to speak. The Steelers have the defensive base to pressure Aaron Rodgers out of a comfort zone and game plan but the big-play potential in the Green Bay offense rates the edge over the Rashard Mendenhall power-running option in the end.
Green Bay 17 Pittsburgh 16

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

2017 NFL Draft Profile: California QB Davis Webb

2017 NFL Draft Profile: California QB Davis Webb

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Davis Webb, QB, California

6'5" | 229 lbs.

2016 stats:

4,295 YDS, 61.6 CMP%, 37 TD, 12 INT, 135.6 QBR

Projection:

Day 3

Scouting Report:

"System quarterback with more than 65 percent of his attempts coming inside of 10 yards. Webb has enough raw talent to be considered a developmental prospect, but his decision-making and accuracy issues beyond 10 yards is a big red flag that might be tough to overcome in the NFL." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles

Owners to consider on and off field changes this week during NFL meetings

Owners to consider on and off field changes this week during NFL meetings

Give the NFL credit for, at least this one time, genuinely putting the interests of its fans first. Or at least proposing to.

Among the matters expected to come before this week’s owners meetings in Arizona will be one from Washington that coaches have the ability to make unlimited replay challenges as long as the ones they make are correct. The idea is not likely to pass, in part because the NFL is endeavoring to improve the pace of its games, particularly for fans seated in stadiums, particularly outdoor ones. (If you’re watching at home, replay reviews are enough time to fill the chips bowl and grab a cold one.)

Along that line, the plan is for tablet computers to be run out to game officials for their review and consultation, while the final decision is reached at league officiating headquarters in New York, according to current proposals to be considered for votes this week. Additionally, a 40-second play clock is suggested after extra points when there is no commercial break scheduled, and halftime to be limited to 13 minutes 30 seconds.

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bears tickets right here!]

Actual in-game changes are also under consideration.

No one is likely to label it “The McClellin Rule” but a proposal is there to ban players leaping over offensive linemen (read: long snappers) to block field goals and extra points. Former Bears linebacker Shea, as a special-teams rusher with the New England Patriots, successfully vaulted Ravens blockers to knock down a Baltimore field goal try last season.

The proposal is likely to pass ostensibly as a player-safety measure, although cynics might suggest that the impetus behind the ban is general irritation that Bill Belichick’s group came up with with kick-block gambit.

More directly aimed at protecting players from gratuitous violence in a game that has enough violence just by its nature is a move to remind officials that players can be ejected for egregiously illegal hits. The situation is not considered dire because of frequency but the league clearly wants to send a message/reminder to not only officials, but players, something likely to be reinforced during officials’ tours of training camps in August.