DETROIT -- Leading up to the Super Bowl, we will hear a lot about the superstar players. We will hear about Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, Jerome Bettis, Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward. We will hear about Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Lofa Tatupu and Marcus Trufant. We might hear a passing comment about how good Seattle offensive tackle Walter Jones and offensive guard Steve Hutchinson are, but it will be just that -- a passing comment.
It is almost an afterthought when an offensive lineman gets mentioned as a potentially key player in determining the outcome of a game, but they will be key this week. The Seahawks and Steelers can throw the ball effectively, but both also rely on a strong running game. Seattle finished the regular season with the third-ranked run offense in the NFL, and Pittsburgh was fifth. It doesn't matter how good your running backs are, you cannot put up those kind of numbers with mediocre offensive line play.
Further, to throw the ball effectively, both teams will have to keep their quarterback upright. Seattle's no-name defense finished the regular season fourth in sacks, while Pittsburgh finished sixth.