As I've explained numerous times over the last month, I am your prototypical superstitious Steeler fan.
Which basically means I spend an unnecessary amount of time worrying about doing everything I did on the previous gameday exactly the same way on this particular gameday.
And that means that this Sunday, I'm sticking with the same excerpt from Ben's former Miami Coach Terry Hoeppner's favorite poem "Don't Quit" that I've posted each of the past two gamedays.
Like I said then, if this can't get you fired up, maybe you need to get out the shock paddles.
But I digress...
Success is failure turned inside out; The silver tint of the clouds of doubt; And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems afar, So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit; It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit
It's been a long journey to get here, but the Steelers have weathered the storm.
This is the ultimate cage match, with a championship on the line.
It's time to give the Packers one of these...
It's time to hit some people in the mouth.
It's time to stand up and finish your work.
It's time to be great.
One more Sunday of Steelers football.
One more shot at glory.
One more chance to show the world.
Bring home that sticky Lombardi once again!
Sincerely, with love, xoxoxoxoxoxoxo,
- Steeler Nation
Turn off all your lights, listen to this once in the dark, and visualize what you'd like the Steelers do to the Packers...
Now, fire up the machine...
It's time to get loud!
HERE WE GO, SUPER BOWL, HERE WE GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
This may sound pretty common sense, and really it is, but the NFL's Super Bowl is unlike any other major American sports championship.
Most leagues run their playoffs as series, but the NFL is the only one of the four big sports leagues that has its championship come down to just one game - four quarters, and 60 minutes.
You only get one shot, and it's do or die.
Luckily, that's just how the Steelers like it.
I don't think it would matter if it were one game or seven, for the Steelers, it's whatever it takes.
The Steelers are so focused on winning right now, so driven to be the best, that they're ready to do whatever they need to do to come out on the other side one Lombardi trophy richer.
But it takes two teams to tango, and this time around, the Steelers will have their hands full with the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers have been billed as a "team of destiny," who despite being a six seed have been talked about as a Super Bowl favorite since August.
And putting aside the fact that a designation like that is best bestowed AFTER winning the big one, the Pack have been on a roll since late December, ending their season with back to back wins against the Giants and Bears, and having ran through three different cities on the road this January, knocking off the top three seeded NFC teams and breaking many hearts along the way.
There's definitely no getting around the fact that the "Pack is Back"...
Although, based on that video they should hope their team performs better than its fans (/its OWNERS).
The Packers are a great football team that actually has a lot of Pittsburgh parallels.
When we played them last, it may have been the highlight of the Steelers' 2009 season.
At least this play in particular may have been...
Coming off of the now-infamous five game skid that ultimately kept them out of the postseason, the Steelers rode Big Ben's arm to victory to the tune of 500 yards passing, narrowly defeating the Packers 37-36 on the literally last second TD you just re-lived.
But forget last year's game (in which Troy Polamalu didn't play, PS).
And forget every other game either team has played this season.
None of them matter now.
All of a sudden, we're both 0-0; two teams playing for only one trophy.
One game. One moment. One opportunity.
It really is amazing how similar the Steelers and Packers are, even on down to what the teams embody.
The Steelers are representative of the hard working men (and women) who spent years of their lives in hot, dangerous mills making the steel that has become the backbone of this country's cities and towns.
The Packers are also representative of hard working men, only those who punched the clock in meat packing plants.
And it's no secret that both fanbases are among the league's "best," or at the very least its most rabid.
But one thing that is most certainly different for these teams is the road each took to get here.
While the Steelers won their division, and thus enjoyed a bye week and two home playoff games, the Packers had to get in as a wild card team, having to go play three games on the road.
And then of course there's also the fact that 75% of the Packers team is younger than 28 (don't bother checking my facts, I just made that up) and 98% of them have zero Super Bowl experience, while the Steelers are a much more veteran team, with said big game experience.
Either way, putting everything else aside, let's face it, this is Ben's game.
There's a lot of guys who need to make plays tomorrow, but there's one guy who really needs to make plays.
This is bigger than just a football game for Ben.
He's now 10-2 in the playoffs, had won the most games out of any QB in NFL history through his first five seasons in the league, has already won two Super Bowls, and is generally harder to bring down than a rhinoceros, yet there is a significant portion of the football-watching population that doesn't believe he's an elite QB.
On top of that, he's had just about every media outlet from ESPN to Bleacher Report questioning his character all season (let alone just the past two weeks), and it might not take a big a stretch of imagination to think that there is a significant portion of the football-watching population that is rooting for him to fail.
Ben will not let that happen.
This man does not want to be remembered as anything other than a champion.
He lives for these opportunities, and he'll be damned if he's going to sit by and watch someone else snatch the glory out from under him (at least if he has anything to say about it).
But beyond Ben, and outside of this game, this has been one hell of a team to watch.
When you think about the Steelers of the 70's, you have a hard time thinking of one who wasn't a star.
When you think about the Steelers of 2010, or at least when I do, I see the same thing.
Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, Ike Taylor, Ben Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall, Hines Ward, Heath Miller, Mike Wallace...
You'd have a hard time finding a better starting lineup in the league.
And no matter what happens in Dallas tomorrow, we still got to watch these men battle all season and all post season, up-current, dealing with injuries, fines, bad calls and other setbacks along the way.
So, before we get into the actual preview, I just want to say that wherever we are on Monday, it's been an amazing season and I've loved every last second of it.
I said it a couple of weeks ago in my Jets "preview," but I do this (and by "this," I mean "write this blog") because I love the Steelers, and I love sharing that feeling with you all - Steeler nation.
There are few more satisfying and exciting moments in a Steelers fan's life than those spent watching the Steelers compete for a championship. And I'm lucky enough to know that because I've already had the opportunity to do it three times in my life - twice in the last six years.
All we can ask is that the Steelers play like champions, and as a result of that play become champions yet again.
I don't know about you, but I can't fucking wait.
So now that we've done this little upfront dance for a little while here, it's time to get to the real heart of it - the preview, below. As usual, we'll start this thing off with a little Van Halen, and when we come out on the other side, you all better be ready to give your thoughts on tomorrow's game.
"There are going to be a lot of people pulling at you and pulling you in different directions this week, and you have to remain with one thing and that’s that we’re here to win this ball game. If we can win it, a lot of great things will happen."
Chuck Norris ain't got shit on Hines Ward in this get-up.
But ladies and gents, this isn't just any picture of a random half asian, half black man getting patted down while wearing a cowboy hat, gigantic belt buckle and aviators - it's a picture that shows the Steelers are en route to Dallas, where they'll resume their preparation for Sunday's epic battle with the Packers.