OT Sunday would be very interesting
Reported by Scott Pitoniak
The Steelers and Packers are so evenly matched that I wonder if maybe, just maybe, we might be treated to the first overtime in Super Bowl history.
And if we are, we’ll see the new post-season overtime format implemented for the first time. Unlike the regular-season rules, the team scoring first during the extra session doesn’t win unless it scores a touchdown. So if a team opts for a field goal, it wouldn’t win unless it stopped its opponent from scoring on the ensuing possession.
The rule change was made to prevent the team winning the OT coin toss from having an unfair advantage. You know, take the kickoff, make a couple of first downs and then kick the winning field goal.
Sudden death rules are in effect after the first tie, meaning I could win the game with a second field goal.
As I mentioned, there hasn’t been a Super Bowl that’s been tied at the end of regulation, but there have been some that have come close. Interestingly, seven of the last 13 NFL championship games have been decided by seven points or fewer. The competitiveness of the game has been more of a recent trend because only seven of the first 31 Super Bowls were decided by 7 points or fewer.
The only NFL title game ever to go into OT was the 1958 championship between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts at old Yankee Stadium. That game was decided by Alan Ameche’s touchdown and is cited by sports historians as the launching pad for pro football’s ascendancy to America’s most popular pastime.
I’m beginning to wonder if, like Samson, Troy Polamalu and Clay Matthews derive their strength from their long locks. Pittsburgh safety Polamalu edged Green Bay linebacker Matthews by two votes for 2010 NFL Defensive Player-of-the-Year honors. Polamalu’s long hair resulted in a lucrative endorsement contract with Head and Shoulders. If I worked for the shampoo company, I’d immediately start an ad campaign touting Troy for being head-and-shoulders above the competition.
Not surprisingly, the SEC will have the most alumni participating in Sunday’s Super Bowl. But you might be surprised to learn which football conference is tied with the Big 10 in second place with 15. If you guessed the MAC (Middle American Conference), you win a Terrible Towel and Cheesehead. (Not really, but you win my respect and admiration.) Big Ben Roethlisberger (Miami of Ohio) is the most famous of the contingent. Interestingly, his backups – Byron Leftwich (Marshall) and Charlie Batch (Eastern Michigan) also are MAC products. And Green Bay’s leading post-season rusher, James Starks, has MAC roots, too, having starred at the University at Buffalo, following a fine high school football and basketball career in Niagara Falls.
The Big East, meanwhile, won’t be well-represented, with just four players suiting up.
Should Green Bay defensive back Charles Woodson win the MVP award Sunday, he would become just the fourth player in football history to have claimed that honor along with a Heisman Trophy. The other three were Roger Staubach (Navy, Dallas Cowboys), Jim Plunkett (Stanford, Oakland Raiders) and Marcus Allen (USC, Oakland Raiders).