Who will win the Super Bowl?

By Times staff writers
Published January 29, 2006


Forget the fact the Seahawks had a better regular season (13-3 vs. 11-5), had a better postseason (two dominant efforts vs. wide right) and have a coach with a better track record (a Super Bowl ring vs. a couple of Neil O'Donnell interceptions).

The reason I am picking Seattle is the same reason a lot of people are picking the Steelers.

Ben Roethlisberger.

It is an age-old argument, and you can throw Tom Brady in my face all you want, but the fact of the matter is, eight of the last 10 Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks had at least four years experience in the league. Seven had at least six.

True, Matt Hasselbeck is hardly Yoda. But he has seven years of experience and, more important, he has seen the devastation one ill-advised pass can cause in the postseason (Remember the famous last words, "We want the ball, and we're going to win?").

Nothing against Big Ben: He's thrown just one interception this postseason and he has a beard that Nanny McPhee can only dream of. But in a game that will likely be decided by one mistake, I'm betting the second-year player makes it.



They're no longer the underdogs in Vegas, but that shouldn't matter to the Steelers. They'll arrive in Detroit with their road whites and us-against-the-world mind-set that helped them to wins at the Bengals, Colts and Broncos the past few weeks.

Forget about Jerome Bettis' homecoming, the feel-good story of the Super Bowl.

The Steelers will win because of their staunch 3-4 defense, which running back Shaun Alexander has seldom seen; Dick LeBeau's blitz schemes that drove Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning and Jake Plummer batty; and the versatility of safety Troy Polamalu, who can stuff the run, blitz the passer or cover in the secondary.

Once one-dimensional on offense, the Steelers can beat teams with a smashmouth running game or dependable passing attack. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finds new ways to win every week, and tight end Heath Miller can be a differencemaker.

The only thing standing between the Steelers and "one for the thumb" is that none of the players was around for the first four Super Bowl wins.

One for the ring finger, then.