Steelers: Confident or arrogant?

Unlike some previous Super Bowls, there hasn't been a whole lot of disrespectful banter back and forth between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals – at least until now.

TAMPA, Fla. – Unlike some previous Super Bowls, there hasn't been a whole lot of disrespectful banter back and forth between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals.

At least until Thursday as the teams held their last big media day in preparation for Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium.

Steelers center Justin Hartwig unexpectedly called into question Arizona's schedule while talking about the difficulty of the one Pittsburgh played during the regular season.

The Steelers went 12-4 and won the AFC North this season playing what was considered the league's most difficult schedule.

Arizona, meanwhile, won the NFC West despite a 9-7 record and losing four of its final six games.

"We played the toughest schedule in the league this year," said Hartwig while talking about the play of the team's offensive line.

"It's easy to point fingers and say, ‘You guys didn't live up to expectations and you guys were the letdown of the team.' We try not to get caught up in that. At the same time, we were playing the top defenses in the league, week-in and week-out. We weren't playing in the NFC West. We had the toughest schedule in the league. I think we gained a lot of valuable experience from our schedule. We see things on film and things are a lot easier now. We're not playing Baltimore's defense. Arizona isn't as complicated as Baltimore. I think we understand what we're doing going into this game."

Hartwig also looked at what Arizona did in a Dec. 21 loss at New England, a 47-7 thrashing, as a point of reference between the Steelers and Cardinals.

"I looked back during the end of the season and we went up to New England and we took it to them," Hartwig said of Pittsburgh's 33-10 win at New England Nov. 20.

"These guys went into New England and lost by 50 points or something like that. So I think it was a team, in my mind, that was written off at the end of the year. They snuck into the playoffs. I guess they won their division, they backed into it. Maybe they were a little underappreciated. At the same time, we're only concerned with the Pittsburgh Steelers, not the Arizona Cardinals. We feel like if we go out and play our best football and take care of business and do what we need to do, we're the only team that can beat us."

That mentality by the Steelers is one that permeates throughout the team.

Some would call it arrogance, others confidence.

"It ain't about any other teams. It's about us," said nose tackle Casey Hampton. "If we go out there and play the way we're capable of playing, we're going to be good.

"That's our mentality. We feel like if we're on, we'll be all right. If we don't beat ourselves, we'll be all right. That's just how it is. That's how we've always felt. Does that make us bad guys thinking like that? It ain't no swagger, that's how it is."

Hampton did, however, stop short of making any guarantees, something he was quick to point out.

"Notice I didn't say we're going to win. I said we'll be all right," he said.

The Steelers feel that their top-rated defense will be enough to slow Arizona's offense, which averaged 26 points per game during the regular season and is average 31 per game in the playoffs.

They also feel they can exploit a Cardinals defense that allows 26 points per game.

"Arizona's a team that you don't want to get into a shootout with, but at the same time, I feel confident that our defense can slow them down a little bit," Hartwig said. "After watching tape, the opportunities are definitely there for us to put some points on the board."

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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