As somebody who puts words together for a living, I’m loath to be too critical of a pronouncement offered by the multi-talented Pulitzer Prize-nominee Maya Angelou.
But it seemed as if her prediction of a 27-7 Green Bay romp over Pittsburgh in today’s Super Bowl XLV matchup was a touch inflated.
The Super Bowl is the one sporting event of the year that draws predictions from just about everybody, poet/novelists included. Like Angelou’s prediction, courtesy of Scripps Howard News Service, many of these celebrity predictions are worth considering.
Initially I wondered about Dr. Angelou’s explanation of her perception of Green Bay superiority: “ because of the wonderful cheese and butter.”
Ha cheese and butter. How silly. Hmmm, cheese and butter. Actually sounded good made me hungry. Yes, hungry.
And there it is. With subtext and nuance, Angelou invoked her poetic license. She didn’t tell me what to think, but instead led me to find the answer myself.
It was genius. The Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl because they are more hungry for it. I agree completely, although I can’t believe it will result in a 20-point margin.
So much has been made about the Steelers having 25 players on their roster with Super Bowl experience. The Packers have two.
And while that, on the surface, seems to suggest a Steelers’ advantage, I think the real effect is a motivational disadvantage.
Look, the Steelers created this blueprint in the 2005 season, coming into the playoffs like the Packers this year, as a No. 6 seed, with a 11-5 record. That forced the Steelers to go on the road and win three games just to get to the Super Bowl.
That kind of experience – to steal a Pittsburgh metaphor – forges a team of a powerful alloy.
It happened again two years later when the Patriots were defeated by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. So many of the Patriots had been a part of the team that won the Super Bowl three years before, it was not such an extraordinary experience for them.
The Giants, again, were a No. 6 seed with a 10-6 record. They won three straight road playoff games and then topped the Patriots, 17-14, despite being a 12-point underdog.
They wanted it more. They were more hungry.
The Steelers have an amazing defense, filled with guys who obviously take nothing for granted. A recent doctored photo on the comical mock-news site “The Onion” featured a shot of a Pittsburgh linebacker with the caption: “James Harrison comes up from the bottom of the pile with a human heart.” Harrison was photo-shopped with a bloody heart in his hand.
At least I think it was photo-shopped, because that’s about how the Pittsburgh defense plays.
But the Packers have a group of heart-ripping defenders, too, and when all the carnage cancels out, it may all come down to the idea that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is better than Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Rodgers has thrown 11 touchdowns and three interceptions in the past five must-win games against teams that finished with 10-6 records or better.
Even small matters can make the difference in a game between two evenly matched teams. And working against Pittsburgh is the absence of Pro Bowl rookie center Maurkice Pouncey.
Yes, replacement Doug Legursky performed well enough in the AFC title game after Pouncey sprained his ankle. But in a critical situation, at their own goal line, with pressure on his nose, Legursky and Roethlisberger blew the exchange. Small things matter. This will matter.
This should be very close. The Steelers have won nine of their past 10 postseason games. But I say the Packers win this one, 24-21.
Although, another celebrity picker, Yogi Berra, offered a perspective that only he could. Green Bay, 23-20, he said: “The best team should win, and it could also be Pittsburgh.”
Yes, it could. But Green Bay’s hunger will prevail.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440