No guarantees, but edge to Pittsburgh

Jan 31, 2006 5:58 AM

When Pittsburgh made its first Super Bowl appearance in 1974, it had been 42 years since the franchise played for an NFL title. That’s 12 years "longer" than Seattle’s wait.

And, where the Steelers had been thrown into the role of road underdogs for three straight games as the No. 6 seed in the AFC, suddenly Pittsburgh has a virtual home game in Detroit as a favorite.

So, if any team wants to use the "us against the world attitude," it’s definitely more suited now to the Seahawks. They are the No. 1 seed in the NFC that’s a four-point dog to the AFC’s No. 6. Motivation? You bet, but if that’s what it takes to get Seahawks up for the Super Bowl, they might as well go back into isolation in the Pacific northwest.

Pittsburgh has been a public team the past 30 years, beginning with Steel Curtains and Terrible Towels of ’74 and all the Hall of Famers like Bradshaw, Swann, Greene, Blount, Harris, Lambert, Stallworth and Noll.

Seattle, up to Super Bowl 40, has Steve Largent, rain, coffee and computers.

Detroit has that big Joe Louis fist in front of Ford Field — so Hollywood-esque for the "One for the Thumb" outcry from Steelers fans. And, it’s the city where the Bettis family brought up Jerome and let us enjoy riding the Bus for two decades.

This should all play out into a wonderful package for Jerome, the Rooneys, Pittsburgh fans and Bill Cowher, who was denied that ring for the thumb thanks to Neal O’Donnell’s two gift wrapped interceptions against Dallas.

Enough foreplay. I see six keys to the outcome, which could very well end up with the Steelers not winning.

”¡ Identity: The Steelers were acquainted with Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Denver. Keep in mind, Seattle used to be in the AFC. Not much history between these franchises.

”¡ Jurevicius: Some guys have a knack for being on champion teams and playing significant roles. Steve Kerr and John Salley kept showing up on NBA champs. Same for Joe, a standout for Tampa Bay during its Super Bowl and a Joe Paterno guy.

”¡ Alexander: All the talk about the Bus should fire up Seattle’s bread and butter, who happens to be the NFL’s leading rusher and all-time single-season touchdown maker with 28. Shaun should see the ball a lot behind Seattle’s massive the left side.

”¡ Early KO: Steelers delivered the knockout blow in the first 20 minutes to Indy, Cincinnati and Denver. If Seattle can weather the storm and first-time Super Bowl jitters, Pittsburgh will have its hands full.

”¡ Chemistry: The Seahawks actually play as a team, hang out together and genuinely pull for each other. What a concept in these days of T.O., Artest and "what’s good for me" attitudes. To be fair and balanced, the Steelers are like Seattle.

”¡ Pocket time: Pittsburgh did a great job diffusing Indy’s hyped pass rush, but Seattle’s isn’t chopped liver. Their defensive front led the NFL in sacks and will, no doubt, try to make Big Ben uncomfortable.

All that said, I like Pittsburgh 27-24. I just can’t see the Bus leaving a loser. That puts me on Seattle with +4 and OVER. Now for that salami on rye!