GREEN BAY—It was only three years ago that the Packers beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, but these are very different teams.
When the Packers and Steelers met in Dallas on Feb. 6, 2011, a lot of players were on the field that day that won't be in Lambeau Field this Sunday. Start with Charles Woodson and James Harrison, two of the biggest names in the game.
Greg Jennings is gone, and so are Donald Driver, Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Scott Wells, Nick Collins, Frank Zombo, Desmond Bishop, Cullen Jenkins and Howard Green. All of them were starters during the Packers' run to the Super Bowl, and that doesn't include Bryan Bulaga, who is still with the team but hasn't played a down this season.
The Steelers will be without these players from that Super Bowl: Hines Ward, Jonathan Scott, Chris Kemoeatu, Doug Legursky, Flozell Adams, Rashard Mendenhall, David Johnson, Casey Hampton, James Farrior, Bryant McFadden and Harrison. They were all in the starting lineup that day, which means 50 percent of the Steelers' starting lineup from Super Bowl XLV is gone from the team in three short seasons.
Game of replacement? You bet it is. It's a young man's game, it's a healthy man's game and it's the cap man's game.
The Steelers and Packers were headed in opposite directions that day in Dallas. The Steelers were an old team at the end of the run. They knew they were facing a cut-and-gut, and they were trying to grab one more Super Bowl title before they began the inevitable. The Packers were a young team at the start of a run.
This Sunday, the Packers will try to take a major step toward continuing that run. They'll have to beat a Steelers team trying to punctuate its rebuilding project with a couple of season-ending wins that would leave the Steelers 8-8 and 8-4 over their last 12 games. This is a Steelers team that didn't win a preseason game and didn't win a game of any kind until the middle of October.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Steelers:
1. Rush the quarterback—Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 40 times. Hurries are something that happen to Roethlisberger on most downs.
2. Throw the ball—The Steelers' defensive rankings are misleading. The defense was so bad against the run early in the season that teams weren't bothering to pass. In recent weeks, it's with the pass that you beat the Steelers. The secondary is old and will be the next target in rebuilding.
3. Hold your coverage—Roethlisberger is at his best when he extends the play.
4. Be physical—It's what the Steelers respect and the Packers have the running back to earn that respect.
5. Spread them out—It worked in Super Bowl XLV and it'll likely be Mike McCarthy's strategy on Sunday.
6. Stop Antonio Brown—He's an elite receiver, punt returner and big-time playmaker.
7. Peak—This is the time to play your best football.
8. Strike early—The forecast is for snow, wind and falling temperatures that'll create a nasty wind chill for a team coming out of the mid-50s and could find itself eliminated from playoff contention before Sunday's kickoff. An early lead could sap the visitors' motivation.
9. Unleash hell—It's a rather infamous Mike Tomlin quote from a few years ago. It didn't work for him, but it sure sounded good and it might work for the Packers. This is the time to do it. This is December. This is crunch time.
10. Stay in the moment—Chicago is for next week. Additional coverage - Dec. 19