Do the Pittsburgh Steelers have an advantage over the Green Bay Packers because they have more Super Bowl experience?
The Steelers won Super Bowls after the 2005 and 2008 season and 18 of their players have rings from each of them. A 19th, Antwaan Randle El, played a key role in their victory in Super Bowl XL in Detroit, then left as a free agent to sign with Washington, but returned this season.
And, does Super Bowl experience matter much anyway?
The Steelers had not been to a Super Bowl in 10 years and had not won the game in 26 when they added their fifth Lombardi Trophy in XL. All that Super experience did little for the New England Patriots in XLII. And what was their recent experience in the game worth to the Indianapolis Colts when they lost to first-timer New Orleans last year?
"We have some guys that have been there, but a lot of our key guys who have been making plays throughout the whole year really have never been to the Super Bowl," Steelers safety Ryan Clark said. "It's their first time. I am pretty sure that the guys will have lots of anxiety, can't sleep, putting too much effort into it. We just have to slow the tempo down and treat it like any other practice."
The others: linebacker James Harrison, wide receiver Hines Ward, linebacker James Farrior, cornerback Ike Taylor, defensive end Aaron Smith, nose tackles Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke, defensive end Brett Keisel, safety Troy Polamalu, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, tight end Heath Miller, offensive lineman Trai Essex, left guard Chris Kemoeatu, linebacker Larry Foote and cornerback Bryant McFadden.
"Man, it never gets old," Taylor said of having another berth in the Super Bowl. "I'm just blessed, this is my third trip in eight years."
Another player making his first trip is not so young. Tackle Flozell Adams has played 13 seasons and in his first 12 in Dallas, the Cowboys went 1-6 in the playoffs. Now he will get there with the Steelers - and play in the Cowboys' stadium.
"It could be Dallas, Pittsburgh -- wherever the Super Bowl's going to be that's all that matters to me," Adams said. "As long as it's the Super Bowl, that's all I'm going for."
--Pittsburgh will have something new to contend with as the Steelers prepare for their eighth Super Bowl appearance - the underdog roll.
The Green Bay Packers opened as 2.5- to 3-point favorites to win Super Bowl XLV, and that's just fine with the Steelers, who were favored in each of their past two title games against Arizona and Seattle.
"I feel like we're always underdogs, even when they've got us covering the point spread," cornerback Ike Taylor said. "I feel like, deep down, in the back of people's heads, they really don't want us to win. It really doesn't matter whether we're under or over. The game is still to be played."
The Steelers were favored in both of their postseason games this year, by 3 points over the Baltimore Ravens and 3 1/2 over the New York Jets. The last time they entered a Super Bowl as underdogs came against Dallas in Super Bowl XXX after the 1995 season.
But the Steelers have won eight of their past nine games and also know what it's like to win Super Bowls, having won two in the previous five seasons.
"We have some guys that have been there, but a lot of our key guys who have been making plays throughout the whole year really have never been to the Super Bowl," safety Ryan Clark said. "It's their first time. I am pretty sure that the guys will have lots of anxiety, can't sleep, putting too much effort into it. We just have to slow the tempo down and treat it like any other practice."
The Steelers will not fly to Texas until Monday. Most teams normally arrive on Sunday ,but the Steelers always wait the extra day and who can argue with their rate of success in the Super Bowl - they've won six in seven previous trips.
"We have a lot of tenacity," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "We have a don't-quit attitude and mentality. We have a belief in each other. We are a family. We stay close no matter what. If things go bad on offense, the defense is picking us up. If things go bad on special teams, the offense and defense are picking them up. Everybody is just always there for each other. There is never finger pointing."
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