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Secret To The Steelers Success?

Experience.  It’s a word that has been used a lot by the media to describe the Steelers in recent days and will probably be used a lot more in this week leading up the to Super Bowl. But what does it mean? Is it really that important?

I would say with the Steelers the experience factor cannot be understated. At times this team seems to have an uncanny understanding of just what is needed to pull out the win in a close game. Just look at how many close games this team has won over the last 4 or 5 years. There comes a point where it’s not coincidence anymore. It’s something that is hard to actually point to, it’s an intangible quality that a team usually only acquires through experiencing big games, playoff games and Super Bowls. The Patriots had it, the Cowboys had it, the 49ers had it and yes, the 70’s Steelers most definitely had it.

Against the Ravens in the Divisional round of the playoffs a few weeks ago the Steelers found themselves down 21-7 at halftime. Some teams would’ve folded, been demoralized and called it a day. Some teams would’ve been rattled emotionally or panicked and played poorly the rest of the way. The Steelers fought back in the 2nd half and managed to win yet another close game to advance to another AFC Championship game. The experience of being in these kinds of games repeatedly cannot be understated. Like some players have said – there are no extreme highs or lows with this team. After the game the players celebrated quietly and moved on. Look at interviews with these players after these last two wins. Yes, there is celebrating but for the most part the players are even-keeled and know there is another game to play. It’s a “been-there-and-done” approach through and through.

Maybe the experience factor with the Steelers isn’t a big secret, in fact it’s so obvious that the media mentions it a good bit. But it’s what the experience actually does to a team, the intangible qualities it brings, that are usually completely overlooked. Maybe because they are hard to convey or describe. I think there is a tendency to brush aside the “experienced team” observations when people hear it mentioned. Experience can be overrated, but I think it has played a huge role in the success that we’ve seen recently from the Steelers. How a team handles adversity (winning close games in the 4th quarter, off field problems, whatever) ties in directly to experience, among other factors. And that’s not to say that an experienced championship team can’t lose, just look at the Patriots after they finished the season 16-0. Still, an experienced team makes for a formidable opponent. It’ll be interesting to see how much of that plays a factor on Sunday.

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