Seahawks/Steelers News & Notes

Super Bowl News & Notes from the NFC & AFC Champions as they gear up for Super Bowl XL on Sunday, February 5th.

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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
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Seahawks owner Paul Allen hopes to work out a contract extension for coach Mike Holmgren after the season.

"I think Mike is a great coach," Allen told the Tacoma News Tribune.

"He certainly proved it once again with what happened this year and I'm optimistic an extension can be worked out."

Holmgren's contract runs through the 2006 season. The coach has brought home three division titles and one conference championship in seven seasons. He has the Seahawks in the Super Bowl for the first time, with an offense that should remain good for years and a young defense that should only get better.

For those reasons, an extension makes sense for the Seahawks.

"I think once the season is over and we're past the Super Bowl, we'll have some more discussions about that," Allen said.

Allen was scheduled to arrive in Detroit on Thursday. He has taken a higher-profile role in recent months. That has probably been unavoidable given the Seahawks' unprecedented success.

"He has taken a more active role with the football team in my opinion, this year, and the lines of communication to him have been opened up, honestly," Holmgren said.

Changes in the front office have Holmgren enjoying his job again. He clashed with former president Bob Whitsitt. The climate changed when Allen fired Whitsitt a year ago, replacing him with Tim Ruskell.

Third-year CEO Tod Leiweke has also worked toward a unified front office.

It all adds up to a happier Holmgren, and a more successful one too.

"I think Mike is really enjoying the success we've had this year and feeling very good about the team and how things turned out this year," Allen said. "Last season, in contrast, was really a draining playoff loss and Mike needed to recharge his batteries a little bit.

"This is the flip side of the sports coin. We've had everything going on all cylinders and we're in the Super Bowl. I'm very happy Mike is our coach and I look forward to him being our head coach in the future."

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Matt Hasselbeck seemed to be playing the underdog card even when he told Super Bowl media otherwise. "We're not trying to play any card, really," the Pro Bowl passer said. "The truth is the truth. People expect the Steelers to win this game. Oh well. We're not getting caught up on it. It is what it is. We're just going to go out and try to play the best football that we can. The Steelers are a very, very good team. They're the hottest team in football right now. They've gone on the road and won a bunch of games. They've had really impressive wins at Denver, at Indy, at Cincinnati. It really doesn't surprise me that they'd be the favorite."

--QB Seneca Wallace is getting some attention from the Super Bowl media after making a 28-yard reception against Carolina in the NFC title game. It remains unclear how much the Seahawks might use him Sunday, but the Steelers will presumably spend a little time preparing for the possibility.

--RB Shaun Alexander is brushing off questions about his unsettled contract situation. He is scheduled to become a free agent in March. "It hasn't really been trouble for me," Alexander said. "The Seahawks as an organization have had to go through changes of presidents, vice presidents and contract people. That's just the business side of it. They've always been up front about when this year's over, we'll take care of it and we'll do what's best for the team and my family."

--FB Mack Strong said the Seahawks match up well against the Steelers, but he anticipates a struggle. "What the 3-4 defense poses is the strength in their linebackers," Strong said. "They have guys that can run, are disciplined and very physical. It's going to be tough competition. They come ready to play 60 minutes of tough football. We match up well and it's going to be a good football game."

--WR Darrell Jackson has 27 catches in his last three playoff games, including 15 in two playoff games this season. But he still isn't fully recovered from knee surgery. "I'm not really sure how close I am (to 100 percent)," Jackson said. "I just know I'm able to play and go out there and compete and able to contribute a little bit to help our team win. It's disappointing with everyone having these accolades this year that it could have been a Pro Bowl year for me, but it's not disappointing because our goals are conquered, we are going to the Super Bowl, we had a good winning streak, our wide receiver group did good, got a lot of praises I was able to come back and contribute a little bit in the end and now I'm in position to play in my first Super Bowl."

--WR Bobby Engram said the key to playing well Sunday is matching the Steelers' intensity. "They're going to give us a lot of different looks," Engram said. "We just need to be on top of our game in terms of how they want to blitz us and how they want to attack us and just stay within our game plan."

--WR Joe Jurevicius draws strength from the loss of his newborn son three years ago. Those tough times coincided with his last Super Bowl appearance, as a member of the Tampa Bay Bucs. "Obviously there's a lot of sad moments, but there's also a lot of good that came out from that week," Jurevicius said. "It was a lot of turmoil for my family, but I think the biggest thing to remember is that throughout that whole story I was able to contribute to a team. ... It will live on with me. It's got its own special meaning for me."

--TE Jerramy Stevens sounds confident heading into the Super Bowl. He singled out Steelers LB Larry Foote as a player he can beat in coverage. "I played against Larry and I trained with him down in Kenner, outside of New Orleans, before the Combine," Stevens said. "I am familiar with him and I played against him one time at Michigan, too, my last year of college ball. I feel like I know him pretty well and I am confident about that matchup. I think he is a great player and a good athlete, but I feel I have the advantage on him. He makes a great first step, does a good job with his reads. He keys the guard really well. He is not real susceptible to play-action passes because he is a smart player. But I feel like in space is when I can get my advantage on him, using my height and speed out of cuts. I should be able to get away from him."

--K Josh Brown has been extremely effective kicking indoors, with the exception of the Metrodome. He'll be kicking Sunday on the same type of FieldTurf surface that Seattle has at Qwest Field.

--MLB Lofa Tatupu is regarded as the Seahawks' defensive leader, but perhaps not in his own eyes. "I think that Grant Wistrom is the true leader of this defense," Tatupu said. "I apologize to Ken Hamlin. He is still on the sideline with us and we take him out there onto the field with us. I think I've been thrown in that role because I'm the 'mike'linebacker and that's a part of what it entails with the responsibility."

--DT Rocky Bernard thinks his former school, Texas A&M, is a little off-base for challenging the Seahawks' rights to the "12th Man" concept recognizing the fans. "I love A&M, I love the Seahawks," he said. "I just hope they get it all worked out. ... I guess (Texas A&M) started it, but every stadium should have a 12th Man."

--DT Marcus Tubbs is one key to Seattle's interior run defense, but he has also been able to push the pocket in the pass rush, particularly late in the season. He should be fresh for this game after the bye week, and given that he missed three games to a calf injury during the regular season.


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PITTSBURGH STEELERS
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Ben Roethlisberger made his first public appearance at the Super Bowl Tuesday and shrugged off media criticism aimed at coach Bill Cowher for not making him available earlier.

"This is the best part of it, talking to you guys," the Steelers' young quarterback said. "It is part of the territory. You have to accept it, especially being the quarterback, you know that the cameras are pointing at you and that the media wants to talk to you. You just have to be smart."

Roethlisberger, who turns 24 on March 2, is the second-youngest quarterback to play in a Super Bowl and can be the youngest to win it.

"I just had to play my part and get better and do better than I did last year. The development has been a big thing. I've come a long way."

Roethlisberger, while 13-0 as a rookie starter, bombed in the playoffs a year ago when he threw five interceptions and three touchdowns in two games. The Steelers beat the Jets in overtime but lost to the Patriots in the AFC title game at home.

A year later, Roethlisberger is the toast of Pittsburgh. He has thrown seven touchdowns, one interception and has a lofty 124.8 passer rating in three playoff games.

Roethlisberger grew up about an hour's drive from Detroit, in Findlay, Ohio.

"It's kind of nice to come home," he said. "My first NFL game was a preseason game here."

That, though, came against the Lions in Ford Field. Sunday, he'll play against a Seattle defense that led the league with 50 sacks. Roethlisberger has been sacked only five times in three games.

"You don't know where the pressure comes from. They bring it from all over ... I think making adjustments during the game is going to be key.

Our offensive line and running backs will have to figure out where they are coming from in between series and halftime so we can make adjustments and hopefully not let them get to us again."

PLAYER NOTES

-- QB Charlie Batch has been showing some of the players the ropes in Detroit, where he played his first four seasons.

-- WR Hines Ward would like to follow in the Super Bowl footsteps of Hall of Famers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. "I want to be the guy to catch that game-winning touchdown."

-- WR Antwaan Randle El caught 35 passes as a starting receiver but touched the ball on 61 other occasions in the regular season -- 12 runs from scrimmage, three passes, 44 punt returns, one kickoff return and one lateral.

-- WR Cedrick Wilson could be the Steelers' best candidate to break John Stallworth's Super Bowl record for highest yards-per catch in one game (40.33) and for a Super Bowl career (24.4). Wilson has eight post-season catches for an average of 24.5 yards.

-- TE Heath Miller has seven receptions in three playoff games as a rookie. In 2004, Jerame Tuman led all Steelers tight ends with nine receptions in the regular season.

-- RB Willie Parker averaged 4.7 yards during the regular season but has only a 2.8-yard average in three playoff games.

-- RB Jerome Bettis has averaged 3.3 yards in three playoff games, matching his regular-season average, and leads the team with 137 yards rushing in the post-season.

-- RB Duce Staley will return to the team in Detroit on Wednesday. He did not leave Pittsburgh with them, instead flying to South Carolina, where his dad died Saturday.

-- LB James Harrison's sprained foot has healed and he should practice with the team when it begins preparations in Detroit Wednesday. Harrison, the No. 3 outside linebacker, missed the past two games.

-- S Troy Polamalu has been at the top of his game in the post-season. He's tied for the team lead with 19 tackles, has one interception, two tackles for losses, three passes defensed and half a sack.

-- LB Joey Porter not only led all NFL linebackers with 10.5 sacks, he had 15 quarterback pressures in the regular season.



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