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Baltimore Ravens News

News » 2009-01-31



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Kurt Warner said his biggest task in Super Bowl XLIII will be recognizing what the Steelers do on defense. Part of that will be determining which Troy Polamalu he might see across the line of scrimmage.

Will it be the Troy Polamalu who lines up like a linebacker near the line of scrimmage and dives over the pile to stop quarterback sneaks?

Or the player who has been roaming more this season in the secondary and intercepting passes and returning them for touchdowns?

"They do a lot of different things," said Warner, a former two-time NFL MVP who will be making his third Super Bowl appearance. "They've got a lot of different guys that they can use in different spots. I think the key for us is going to be being able to recognize who's who, where the blitz is coming from, who has to block who, who's going to be free and when I need to get the ball out.

"If we can recognize what they're doing and are able to handle it or attack it, we have a chance to have some success. If we don't and they win that battle, then it could be a long day for us."

Nobody's role is harder to determine than the one for Polamalu, a four-time Pro Bowl safety and one of the big-play heroes in the AFC championship game victory against the Baltimore Ravens.

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has dropped Polamalu more into coverage this season, letting him play more like a free safety than a strong safety. The result: A career-high seven interceptions in the regular season and the clinching 40-yard interception return for touchdown against the Ravens.

But that doesn't mean Polamalu has abandoned his role as a quasi-linebacker who disrupts plays along the line of scrimmage. He also did that against the Ravens, stopping Joe Flacco on a quarterback sneak with a diving tackle over the line of scrimmage and also dropping him for an 8-yard loss on a naked bootleg.

Nonetheless, Polamalu thinks it will be no easy task confusing Warner, 37.

"That's tough doing with someone like Kurt because he has so much experience," Polamalu said.

Warner has been as good, if not better, in the postseason than he was in the regular season, when he completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 4,583 yards and 30 touchdowns. In three playoff victories, he is completing 66.3 percent of his passes for 770 yards and eight touchdowns. He also has thrown two interceptions.

"I think it's a very similar situation to when Tommy Maddox was our quarterback," Polamalu said. "They're very similar in how accurate they are."

Pressuring Warner might be a difficult task, but that won't be Polamalu's biggest concern. He will be more concerned with helping on Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Or it could be helping to stop running back Edgerrin James, the leading rusher in the postseason.

That, though, will be Warner's concern: What is Polamalu doing?

"They make big plays," Polamalu said. "Anytime you can make big plays in games, it really limits what the defense can do and it doesn't really matter what kind of pass rush you can get."

Pictured: Above, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians with Hines Ward. Right, rookie Rashard Mendenhall.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 31, 2009

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Dan Cody Name: Dan Cody
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