Commentary

Pittsburgh has special-teams edge

Special teams will play a big part in determining who wins Super Bowl XLIII. Scouts Inc. breaks down Pittsburgh's and Arizona's special teams to see who has the advantage.

Originally Published: January 30, 2009
By Matt Williamson | Scouts Inc.
Special teams will play a big part in determining who wins Super Bowl XLIII. Scouts Inc. breaks down Pittsburgh's and Arizona's special teams to see who has the advantage.

Who has the better special teams?

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh

Even though the Steelers' defense is exceptional, coverage teams will be especially important for Pittsburgh, because giving the Cardinals' offense a short field to work with is a terrible recipe for getting a victory. The Steelers do have one of the best coverage teams in the league, especially on kickoffs. They are not bashful about using a few starters and prominent defensive players on coverage teams. Kerayon Fox has been a terrific addition in this regard, and last year's first-round pick Lawrence Timmons has been a demon as well.

The Steelers rotate their returners mostly because they don't have an ideal option for either punt or kickoff returns. Santonio Holmes had a dynamic 67-yard punt return for a touchdown against San Diego in the playoffs and is Pittsburgh's most dangerous player in this regard, but he shares this duty with Mewelde Moore, who is more reliable securing the football but less of a threat for big plays. It wouldn't be a surprise at all if Holmes fielded more punts than usual Sunday, particularly if Pittsburgh gets behind. Gary Russell is a physical, plodding kickoff returner and offers no big-play potential. His 23.2 yards per kickoff return ranked last in the NFL this season. Moore also can return kicks and could see more time doing that against Arizona. The Steelers' return game has been a problem all year long, with their kickoff return team the weakest unit of all.