Super Bowl impact players

Merril Hoge takes a look at the five players on each team he believes are going to make an impact.

Originally Published: January 2, 2006
By Merril Hoge | ESPN Insider
The Super Bowl might be decided on the play of one or two different players. With that in mind, here are four players on each team who I expect to have a big impact on the outcome of Super Bowl XL.

Seattle Seahawks

Matt Hasselbeck: He's one of the most underrated quarterbacks in football. He's the total package of intelligence, efficiency and accuracy, and he uses those three assets to demoralize defenses. His strength isn't throwing downfield, but he has the great ability to get the ball out quickly and force defenses to make adjustments. It's his quick trigger that stops defenses from being able to consistently pressure him.

He has the potential and ability to put this team on his back and carry them, if that's what is needed on Sunday. In addition to what he physically brings to this game, he also brings a swagger every Super Bowl victor possesses. I love his swagger and the fact that he's not afraid to tell the world that he's a winner. The perfect example is from a couple of years ago, in a playoff game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. At the coin flip for overtime, Hasselbeck plainly said into the microphone that they were going to take the ball and score. They ended up losing when he tossed an interception that was returned for a touchdown and he was ambushed in the press for making the statement, but he should've been lauded for putting it all on his shoulders and taking the pressure off his teammates. That's the sign of a true leader, and that's why even without the rest of his attributes he's an impact player.

Former NFL fullback Merril Hoge is an analyst for a wide variety of NFL programs on television and ESPN Radio. An eight-year NFL veteran, Hoge spent 1987-93 with the Pittsburgh Steelers and joined ESPN in 1996.

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