Super Bowl XLIII. Team of destiny against the titans of history. No matter what happens Sunday night there will certainly be some interesting headlines on Monday morning.
Football fans weren't shocked by the Steelers run to an AFC Championship. Pittsburgh played the No. 1-seeded Tennessee Titans close during the regular season, secured home field for the conference title game and boasts many of the same players that won Super Bowl rings three seasons ago.
This year many experts stopped picking the Cardinals as the "sleeper" team of the NFL. Too many times the Arizona disappointed. Too many times the high-powered offense suffered at the hands of a mediocre defense. But now it seems the 2008 version of these Birds sensed the world had given up on them. Three straight wins to reach the Super Bowl, including a Wild Card victory over the Falcons.
The Steelers are playing for a record sixth Super Bowl championship this weekend. The fan base stretches from coast to coast. The Cardinals picked up a few thousand supporters (including a some Falcons fans) during their playoff run, capturing the mystique that only comes with a franchise that hadn't seen this kind of postseason success since the Truman administration.
Team of destiny against the titans of history… This game could be a blowout or an instant classic.
Recent Super Bowl history suggests a close contest, not the lopsided game some predict given the Steelers stingy, hard-hitting defense and the Cardinals finely-tuned, timing offense.
Arizona has a play-making receiver in Larry Fitzgerald (152 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the NFC Championship). A MVP-winning quarterback in Kurt Warner and a defense that's found a way to focus its overly-aggressive streak in the playoffs.
These are but a few reasons why the game will be close.
But, in games of this caliber, experience reigns supreme.
The Steelers have 25 playoff appearances, 19 division championships, seven conference titles and five Super Bowl wins. The Cardinals have called five different cities home since 1898 and have appeared in the postseason just twice in the last 10 years (five times since the AFL-NFL merger).
A win for the Cardinals will be quite the feel-good story. A win for the Steelers will be an addition to an impressive record book.
Either makes for a fine story, but don't be surprised if more than a few sportswriters are tossing around ideas on Pittsburgh, steel, history and a few Terrible Towels.