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02-06-2011, 12:49 AM
Bires prediction: It will be close
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Saturday February 5, 2011 11:56 PM


No sooner than we learned that it would be Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV, the Packers were installed as favorites. But I’m sorry. I didn’t get it then, and I still don’t get it now with kickoff just hours away.

It’s not that the Packers aren’t a wonderful story. They’re an extremely talented team that’s trying to duplicate what the Steelers did in 2005.

It was impressive to see the Packers win their last two games of the regular season just to make the playoffs as a wild card and the NFC’s No. 6 seed. And once they got into the Super Bowl tournament, they’ve been more impressive by winning three straight on the road.

They have stars like Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews, who are surrounded by a strong supporting cast.

The Packers also deserve respect for the way they battled through adversity.

They’ve had their share of injuries, including the tough loss of star running back Ryan Grant who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the season opener.

The Packers deserve their spot in the Super Bowl. But they’re not going to win.

I’m not sure how they’ll get the job done, but the Steelers, who are 2½-point underdogs, will find a way to win.

I like the way Hines Ward put things in perspective for the Steelers.
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“I want to win whatever it takes,” he said. “Offense. Defense. How about we do it together?”

That’s how the Steelers have been doing it all year long in a season full of potholes.

They’ve battled through so many issues, starting with the Ben Roethlisberger sexual assault accusation. Santonio Holmes was traded. James Harrison was targeted by the NFL for his frequent flagrant hits. Injuries shelved Willie Colon, Aaron Smith, Max Starks and now Maurkice Pouncey.

Yet, the Steelers are here in North Texas, trying to add a seventh Vince Lombardi Trophy to their collection.

And they will.

I say that because the Steelers have Roethlisberger, one of the NFL’s winningest quarterbacks, on their side. They also have the league’s nastiest and stingiest defense.

For as terrific as Rodgers has been in the playoffs, he’s faced nothing as challenging as the Steelers’s defense.

“They’re the hot team, right?” Steelers safety Ryan Clark said of the Packers’ role as favorites. “They’re the team that nobody wants to play, the team that everyone thinks is going to win. But if that was the case, we wouldn’t play the game.”

The Steelers will play the game, and they’ll win 30-24.

Mike Bires can be reached online at mbires@timesonline.com