ARLINGTON, TX (RNN) - OK, so maybe the Steelers and Packers fans could have just stayed home if they wanted to endure weather like this.
North Texas was under a winter storm warning Friday as forecasters predicted several inches of snow in Arlington, TX, home of Super Bowl XLV. Thousands of people were being turned away at the airports, and the city looked like a ghost town - hardly what you'd expect from Super Bowl weekend.
Still, with the teams' rich histories and drama both on and off the field, this year's game promises to be one for the ages. Kickoff is set for Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT on FOX.
It's just a good thing the game will be played indoors.
If the state-of-art stadium in which they'll play the big game is any indication of what is to come, this year's game might actually eclipse the commercials.
The billion-dollar stadium was completed in May 2009 and can seat 80,000 people, making it the fourth largest stadium in the NFL. If you include standing-room-only tickets, it can hold 110,000. About 15,000 additional seats put in place in attempt to get as many people in as possible inside to watch the game.
The domed stadium will be covered for the championship game and also boasts the world's largest video screen, which hangs from 20-yard line to 20-yard line according to the stadium's website, www.stadium.dallascowboys.com.
"The stadium is quite a sight to see, inside and out, with all its glitz and glam," said football fan Jennifer Phillippi, who has watched games in the stadium. "It's definitely the stadium of the future."
Game time activities include pop singer Christina Aguilera performing the national anthem, with the Black Eyed Peas providing the halftime entertainment.
Drama off the field
If you were going to write a dramatic story line for a Super Bowl, you couldn't come up with much better than this year's. There is plenty of drama both on and off the field.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended by league commissioner Roger Goodell for off-season behavior, yet he has led his team all the way to the championship.
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers will attempt to win a Super Bowl in his first attempt, while finally putting to rest murmurs of fans still questioning the team's release of Brett Favre in favor of Rodgers.
Roethlisberger was investigated during the 2010 off-season in Georgia for an alleged sexual assault in a nightclub. The district attorney said Roethlisberger would not be charged after evidence proving guilt didn't materialize.
In April, Goodell announced Roethlisberger's suspension without pay for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. The suspension was reduced from six games to four after Roethlisberger underwent counseling and treatment.
Since he returned in week six of the regular season, Roethlisberger led his team to nine wins and three losses and has won both playoff games leading up to this Sunday's game.
"They both have great play making ability, and I think it's going to be great game," Super Bowl XLV color analyst and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman told www.sportsrageous.com. "We couldn't have asked for a better match up."
While "Big Ben" - as football fans have come to call him - already has two Super Bowl rings under his belt, Rodgers' story is almost entirely different.
Rodgers played back-up to iron man and future Hall of Famer Brett Favre his first three seasons in the NFL. He began the 2010 season with two wins in a row before injuries began plaguing the Packers. The Pack lost three of the next four games, along with their starting running back.
Rodgers proved himself to critics by winning two regular season, de facto playoff elimination games and then three straight playoff games on the road, beating the Eagles, Falcons and finally Chicago to win the NFC Championship.
"Both defenses have their work cut out for them trying to get to those guys," Green Bay running back John Kuhn said in an interview with the Associated Press. "When defenses get to them, it's not over. They've got to get them to the ground."
Green Bay's defense will have their hands full trying to bring down Roethlisberger, who towers at a whopping 6'5" and 241 pounds. You can compare him to the size of most linebackers in the NFL.
On the other side of the field, Rodgers checks in at a slightly smaller 6'2" and 225 pounds, but he is also quick on his feet, able to take off and scramble at the drop of a dime if the pocket collapses.
Many analysts have said that only the Philadelphia Eagles speedster Michael Vick is better at scrambling with the football.
"He may not be as fast as Michael Vick, but he's certainly as dangerous because he will pull it down and get considerable yardage, and he will throw accurately like he is in the pocket," NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci told www.nj.com. "When he leaves the pocket, he's scary."
While the 20-something quarterbacks will be the focus of a lot of attention Sunday, you have to give credit to the warriors on the other side of the ball. Super Bowl XLV features two of the league's fastest, toughest defenses in the league.
With the AP 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award being given to the Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu, one shouldn't overlook the second- and third-place players in the voting.
Green Bay LB Clay Matthews took second place honors, and Steelers LB James Harrison took third place in voting. All three will be key factors in harassing the opponent's quarterback Sunday.
Also keep in mind that the Steelers led the NFL in total sacks this year with 48; the team that finished in second place with 47 was the Green Bay Packers. Both quarterbacks can anticipate feeling pressure throughout the game.
"You still have to execute and do your job and do your role, but if we can find a way to identify their defense and their blitzes and where they're coming from, I think that gives us a better opportunity, a better chance," Roethlisberger told www.nola.com.
The Steelers were also ranked No. 1 in scoring defense, with 14.5 per game average, while Green Bay was right on their heels with 15.0 points per game. Both of these teams have shown the entire season they can dominate on the field with their passing defense.
Rodgers and the Green Bay offense have made it no secret they plan on spreading out the Steelers defense by lining up on offense with as many as five receivers. If the Packers can spread them out across the field, then it reduces the Steelers' ability to blitz Rodgers and bring pressure like they love to do.
The Steelers are very aware of what Rodgers is capable of doing to a defensive secondary when spread out in coverage, and that's not even factoring in that the weather conditions are going to be perfect and controlled inside the covered stadium. Earlier this season at the outdoor Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, the Packers scored 36 points in a shootout loss that went down to the wire.
The back stories
The most impressive story line of all during this year's Super Bowl is that both teams are so rich in history.
Both teams have won more Super Bowls and NFL titles (which came before the "Super Bowl" term was coined) than any other team in the NFL.
The Steelers have always been known as the blue collar team of the NFL, hard-hitting and no nonsense. Every Steelers game since 1972 has sold out, proving that Pittsburgh is and always will be a football town. Super Bowl XLV marks their eighth appearance, and they hold the record for the most Super Bowl wins with six.
"I am very conscious of the legacy that is the Pittsburgh Steelers," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told www.cbssports.com. "I simply want to add to it. That drives me on a daily basis. I have big respect for the men who have had this job before me."
The Packers are still owned by the community, who can buy and sell shares. The fans wearing the cheese heads and the tales of Lombardi will never die in Green Bay. This is the Packers fifth Super Bowl; they hold the record with 12 overall NFL titles, including three Super Bowl wins and nine league titles prior to the Super Bowl era.
"We have a very good opportunity in front of us because (it's) four more quarters and the season is over, win or lose," Packers star linebacker Clay Matthews told www.nfl.com. "So, we're going to go out there swinging and give it our best shot."
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