ESPN’S SUNDAY NFL COUNTDOWN AND NFL MATCHUP FEATURES FOR SUPER BOWL XLIII
Chris Berman and Countdown Crew at Cotanchobee Park in Tampa; Monday Night Football’s Mike Tirico with Ron Jaworski and Former Super Bowl Winning Quarterbacks Trent Dilfer and Steve Young from Raymond James Stadium
ESPN’s four-hour Super Bowl Sunday edition of Sunday NFL Countdown Presented by IBM featuring host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Chris Mortensen will preview the Cardinals-Steelers matchup in Super Bowl XLIII beginning at 10 a.m. ET from the main set at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park in Tampa. Monday Night Football play-by-play voice Mike Tirico and ESPN’s triumvirate of Super Bowl quarterbacks – Trent Dilfer, Ron Jaworski and Steve Young – will also appear on the program from a set at Raymond James Stadium. Reporters Suzy Kolber (Cardinals) and Ed Werder (Steelers) will provide updates throughout the program from the team hotels. In all, ESPN’s roster of analysts have a combined 14 Super Bowl appearances and eight Super Bowl championship rings between them. Planned features (in order of timing by half-hour):
Opening Tease: History (10 a.m. ET)
At the end of Super Bowl XLIII, the Pittsburgh Steelers could have their sixth Lombardi Trophy – most ever in NFL history – or the Arizona Cardinals could win their first. In their own voices, the two Super Bowl XLIII quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner, narrate their team’s paths to the Super Bowl and the history that will be made.
Cardinals Turning Point (10:30 a.m.)
The Cardinals had just lost four games out of five – the last three losses were by 28, 21 and 40 points, respectively. After the last loss at New England, head coach Ken Whisenhunt made his team practice in pads, even on Christmas Day in a driving rainstorm. Rachel Nichols reports on Whisenhunt’s decision to toughen up his team by practicing in pads once-a-week, a move that Arizona players say was the turning point to their season and improbable playoff run.
Mike Tomlin’s Formative Years (11 a.m.)
Ever since he was a young boy playing Pee Wee football in Newport News, Va., Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has kept notes. In an old red notebook that sits on his mother’s kitchen table are pictures and hand-written captions describing early moments in the young coach’s path to the NFL. The first page reads: “This is a book about football and how it has molded my character, Michael Pettaway Tomlin 3-15-72.” Jackson speaks with Tomlin about his childhood memoirs.
Mayne Event: Offseason Insanity (11 a.m.)
With only two teams remaining, Kenny Mayne embarks on a mission to discover what other players are doing during their off-season, catching up with Pro Bowlers Jared Allen and Wes Welker as they begin their winter “retreats” in the Super Bowl edition of The Mayne Event.
Namath’s Guarantee (11 a.m.)
Forty years ago, Joe Namath and the New York Jets were a 17-point underdog against the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Leading up to the game, Namath scoffed at being an underdog and guaranteed a win. The Jets quarterback delivered on his guarantee with a 16-7 win. On the 40th anniversary of Namath’s guarantee, Jeremy Schaap reports on the circumstances that led to Namath’s famous proclamation and how the star quarterback spent Super Bowl week making bold statements and headlines that equaled or exceeded the bravado of his guarantee.
“Soundtracks” – AFC Championship (11:30 a.m.)
The AFC Championship game – Ravens vs. Steelers – was one of the hardest-hitting games in recent NFL history. Countdown will re-live the sights and sounds of the game in the Super Bowl XLIII edition of “Soundtracks.”
Super Bowl Quarterback Blueprints for Success (11:30 a.m.)
Former Super Bowl quarterbacks Dilfer, Jaworski and Young will present the blueprints for success for both Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner. Young will give three keys for Warner’s success, Jaworski will comment on Roethlisberger, and Dilfer will preview each blueprint and how the opposing defense will counter it in the game.
Big Ben: Stand & Deliver (12 p.m.)
Steelers Ben Roethlisberger likes to stand in the pocket and hold onto the ball so much he’s become the most-sacked quarterback in the NFL since 2004. Roethlisberger’s ability to maneuver in the pocket allows him to shed would-be sackers, get out of the pocket and make big plays. Tom Jackson sits down with Roethlisberger and his teammates to discuss how “Big Ben’s” style of play means big risk, but comes with big reward.
Larry Fitzgerald: Memories of Mom (12 p.m.)
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is distinctive on the field for his size, hands, exceptional plays, and his long dreadlocks – the result of not cutting his hair since 2003 when his mother died after a long battle against breast cancer. Cris Carter sits down with the Arizona wide receiver to discuss how he honors his mother on the field and how her death has affected him.
EA Sports Virtual Playbook: Kurt Warner vs. Steelers’ Blitz (12:30 p.m.)
In EA Sports Virtual Playbook, Jackson previews how the Steelers blitz will pressure Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XLIII.
The Terrible Towel (1 p.m.)
Legendary Pittsburgh broadcaster Myron Cope coined the name “The Terrible Towel” and rallied Steelers fans to cheer for their home team with their towels. Past and present Steelers have embraced “The Terrible Towel” and the fans who wave it in support. Greg Garber traces the history of “The Terrible Towel” and the charity which benefits from the sales of the towel even after Cope’s death last year.
Kurt Warner: Peaks & Valleys (1:30 p.m.)
Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner will be playing in his third Super Bowl, and the Super Bowl XXXIV MVP is back in the title game for the first time in seven years. He made the journey to Tampa after his career faltered in St. Louis, and after bouncing in and out of the starting lineups with the New York Giants and Cardinals. Trent Dilfer, the winning quarterback in the last Super Bowl played in Tampa, sits down with Warner to discuss how he has dealt with the peaks and valleys of his career.
Plus, the members of the Countdown crew will give their Super Bowl picks, predict the unlikely players and matchups that will make the difference in Super Bowl XLIII “X-Factors,” and offer their “Gamebreakers” for the game.
(Note: Times are subject to change)
STATE FARM NFL MATCHUP SUNDAY 3 A.M. AND 6:30 A.M.
State Farm NFL Matchup (Sunday at 3 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.) with host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge will preview Super Bowl XLIII by bringing viewers inside the film room as they analyze the Xs and Os matchups between the Cardinals and the Steelers. The 30-minute program – taped this week from Tampa – will highlight each team’s strategy and game plan. This week’s features:
Steelers “D” vs. Cardinals “O”
Blitzing the Blitz
Quarterback Kurt Warner picked apart the Eagles’ blitzes in the NFC Championship Game, and he faces a similar style of defense against the Steelers in Tampa. Hoge shows why Warner was so effective against the Eagles’ blitzes and what the Cardinals must do to attack Pittsburgh’s pressure schemes.
Teams have tried to revolve their blocking schemes around stopping James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley all season. If the offensive line is able to stop Harrison and Woodley, who’s left to block James Farrior? Jaworski shows how the Steelers “D” use pre-snap movement as well as the alignment of their two best pass rushers to disrupt blocking schemes and create favorable matchups for the defense.
“Why don’t they just double-team Larry Fitzgerald?” That’s been the popular refrain among football fans. It’s not that simple, says Jaworski, as he pulls out his “X and O Files” and uncovers how the Cardinals will be able to find ways to get Fitzgerald the ball no matter the coverage.
Steelers “O” vs. Cardinals “D”
Ben Roethlisberger is known for his ability to make plays when he scrambles, but the Steelers offense is at its best when Big Ben can plant his back foot and deliver a strike down the field. Jaworski displays how Pittsburgh’s “Bunch” formation can put Roethlisberger in the position to pick apart the Cardinals’ secondary from the pocket.
Inexperience at Safety
Former cornerback Antrel Rolle is new to the safety position, and his lack of experience showed up at times in the NFC Championship game against the Eagles. Hoge illustrates how the Steelers passing game can manipulate Rolle with their formations to create big plays over the top.
Familiarity Breeds Success
Former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt knows Pittsburgh’s offense better than most opposing coaches, and his familiarity helped the Cardinals defeat the Steelers last season in Arizona. Hoge revisits that game and spotlights how the “Red Birds” were able to shut down Willie Parker using Whisenhunt’s knowledge of Pittsburgh’s offense.
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