In a potentially classic Super Bowl, players that stand above the pack determine which team hoists the Lombardi Trophy.
Super Bowl XLIII: Historic Moment
Fans with Super Bowl XLIII tickets to Tampa, Florida, have the rare guarantee of seeing history before them. The Pittsburgh Steelers are out to be the first team in NFL history to win six Super Bowls, while the Arizona Cardinals are going for their first. Recent history actually favors the Arizona Cardinals as, since 1998, five teams that have never won the Super Bowl came away with the trophy. Both of these teams have deep rosters and are built around teamwork like few others. Still, some players will loom larger than others on the field.
Super Bowl: Steelers Overview
The first thing that turns heads is the No. 1 ranking of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. With Hall of Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau calling plays from the unpredictable 3-4, the "Blitzburgh" defense causes havoc for quarterbacks. The Pittsburgh Steelers offense is certainly no slouch either, and the patented style of power football and ball control has gotten the Steel City five Super Bowl rings so far. Though they have never been about stars, the Pittsburgh Steelers have great talents on both sides of the ball.
Super Bowl: QB Ben Roethlisberger:
"Big" Ben guided the Pittsburgh Steelers to a Super Bowl victory in only his second season in the NFL. Fans with Super Bowl tickets did not see a good performance out of the young quarterback in Super Bowl XL, but Ben Roethlisberger has matured and developed significantly the past few seasons. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds and gifted with one of the best arms in football, Ben Roethlisberger can hit any part of the field and is athletic enough to run for big gains as well.
Super Bowl: RB Willie Parker
After battling through injury through the first half of the season, Willie Parker has returned to form as the primary back in the Pittsburgh Steelers arsenal. With speed that is bested by few others, "Fast Willie" can not only pound the football up the middle but can take screens and sweeps to the house if given even a sliver of daylight. With a prolific offense on the other side of the field, Willie Parker must rack up yards and move the chains to milk the clock for all it's worth.
Super Bowl: OLB James Harrison
The NFL Defensive Player of the Year, the blue-collar warrior is what decades of Pittsburgh Steelers football have been built around. As the primary pass rusher, James Harrison uses camouflaged blitzes and a lightning-quick first step to get a jump on blockers on his way to the quarterback. Great football senses and hand speed also let James Harrison force a ton of fumbles when he reaches the ball. With over 100 tackles and 16 sacks on the year, James Harrison will haunt Kurt Warner all day.
Super Bowl: SS Troy Polamalu
For all the damage James Harrison does in the front seven, safety Troy Polamalu matches it in the secondary. As both a ballhawk and a deadly hitter, the ability to cover and blitz makes the entire defense run. The task of slowing down Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald will be the primary duty of Troy Polamalu, but he will also come off the zone blitz to catch Kurt Warner unaware. If any passes are tipped, it's a pretty good bet that No. 43 will come up with the interception.
Super Bowl: Cardinals Overview
They may not be ranked No. 1 offensively, but no passing attack in the NFL is more dangerous or feared than that of the Arizona Cardinals. With three wide outs surpassing 1,000 yards receiving and a fantastic offensive line, even the Pittsburgh Steelers defense will struggle to contain it. The Arizona Cardinals defense was honestly not very good in the regular season but they punched the team's Super Bowl tickets with clutch play in the postseason, becoming stout against the run.
Super Bowl: QB Kurt Warner
The two-time NFL MVP is 37 years old but has found new life in the desert. This is also the third Super Bowl for Kurt Warner, having won and lost one as the leader of the St. Louis Rams. Kurt Warner will not be fooled by any defense, and the slightest hole in coverage will lead to a touchdown. As a pocket pass, he must be protected, but if Kurt Warner's jersey stays clean, the Arizona Cardinals win easily. Kurt Warner also spreads the ball around to prevent defenses from keying on one player.
Super Bowl: WR Larry Fitzgerald
With 419 yards receiving in the postseason alone, Larry Fitzgerald is statistically the best receiver in NFL playoff history, and that is with one game to go. Though he may not have burning deep speed, the tall and muscular Larry Fitzgerald is uncoverable and can catch anything close to his hands. The master of the circus catch and the jump ball draws plenty of coverage from Larry Fitzgerald. Slot receiver Steve Breaston rounds out the best receiving corps in the NFL.
Super Bowl: MLB/OLB Karlos Dansby
The versatile leader of the Arizona Cardinals defense, Karlos Dansby attacks from all three line-backing spots and never leaves the field. Fast, aggressive, and smart, Karlos Dansby is the prototype for the next generation of linebackers. Hunting down Willie Parker in the open field or making penetration in the backfield is the No. 1 concern for Karlos Dansby. The Arizona Cardinals secondary is a top-flight unit, and forcing the Pittsburgh Steelers to throw it is the goal in order to force turnovers.
Super Bowl: SS Adrian Wilson
Though he is not the athletic demon that Troy Polamalu is, Adrian Wilson is the hardest hitting safety in the NFL. Putting fear into TEs and WRs going over the middle, Adrian Wilson is the perfect player to disrupt the Pittsburgh Steelers ball-control attack. Great at shedding blockers and hunting the ball carrier, Adrian Wilson can move into the box and become an additional linebacker. Fans with Super Bowl tickets will see No. 24 delivering hits in the secondary, backfield, and open space.