DALLAS Steelers coach Mike Tomlin usually addresses his team before games with two words that his predecessor, Bill Cowher, used to say.
That's been the trademark of Steelers teams through the years, and the physicality could be the difference in today's Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers at Cowboys Stadium.
The Steelers are coming off two physical playoff games against the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets, and they'll be facing another team that can use its muscle. Nose tackle B.J. Raji, linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback Charles Woodson are three Packers who are going to be tough matchups for the Steelers.
The Packers are not a team that is going to back down from a brawl, but the Steelers have the overall edge in this area and need to establish their toughness early in the game.
If they can show the Packers how hitting and blocking is supposed to be done, victory will almost assuredly be earned.
With that in mind, here are four other keys to the game for the Steelers:
The Steelers can wear down the Packers defense by being able to run the ball effectively, especially in the first quarter.
Long drives may not produce points at a high rate, but the results may be more evident in the fourth quarter. Long drives earlier in Super Bowl XLIII against the Arizona Cardinals ultimately helped the Steelers in the fourth quarter when they needed to go the length of the field with the game on the line.
If Rashard Mendenhall runs with authority and the offensive line dominates the line of scrimmage like they did in the first half of the AFC Championship Game against the Jets, the Steelers can get into a bunch of third-and-short situations and keep their defense off the field.
It will also open up the Packers defense for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to make some deep throws.
The key spot will be whether or not Doug Legursky is effective against Raji in his first start at center this season.
Rough up Rodgers
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will pick the Steelers apart if he has time to sit or move around in the pocket.
The Steelers will need to make him get rid of the ball quickly by getting pressure on him with their blitz packages. The Steelers have shut down nearly every running attack this year, so if they can get Rodgers out of sync with his receivers, the Green Bay offense will struggle.
Rodgers also can run the ball, so the Steelers need to make sure he pays for those runs to give him seconds thoughts about doing it again.
The game is most likely going to be a close one. Most people are predicting a tight game, and the Steelers are usually involved in down-to-the-wire games.
The Steelers' main specialists, kicker Shaun Suisham and punter Jeremy Kapinos, will most likely need to play like stars as opposed to guys who were out of jobs at the beginning of the season. Suisham could very well be faced with a game-winning field-goal possibility, and Kapinos is going to be a key in the field-position battle.
Mix it up
Both teams have had two weeks to analyze and over-analyze the opponents. If they've been saving a certain play all season, now is the time to use it.
Because both teams are similar and know each other well they played against each other last season, too the team that disguises its plays both on offense and defense will be in better position to break some big plays or get some interceptions and sacks.
Little-known players can make big impacts in big games because opponents prepared for someone else. Receiver Antonio Brown has already done that in the playoffs.
A guy like running back Isaac Redman or receiver Emmanuel Sanders may have good chances at making key plays for the Steelers.
Buck Frank can be reached at 946-7461 or firstname.lastname@example.org.