Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who is an analyst for NBC's Football Night In America, has kept a close eye on his former team all season and talked with Teresa Varley about his former teammates and the key for them winning Super Bowl XLIII. Super Bowl XLIII Full Coverage
Q. You said when the playoffs started that a big key for the Steelers would be the play of the offensive line. What are your impressions of how they have performed? *
*JB: I was very impressed with the offensive line. They were able to protect Ben (Roethlisberger) in a way where he was able to do some great things. They were also able to provide some holes for the running game. When you look at the offensive line from the beginning of the season to where they are now there is a tremendous difference. You went from a situation where you didn't know if they were an asset to possibly coming in as the most valuable players.
Q. Willie Parker is a guy you mentored when you were here. He had an up and down year with injuries, but really fought back and has played great lately. What do you think of his performance as of late?
JB:He never gave up. He stayed positive. He wanted to work. I was impressed he was able to fight off the injury bug and really come back and help the team out. A lot of times when a player gets injured they have a tendency to fall apart because it's frustrating and you are not able to go back and get those productive yards that you want to get. Willie did that, he came back strong, and he was able to provide a dominant force in the running game that has propelled the team to the Super Bowl.
Q. Can you talk about Ben Roethlisberger and what he means to the team?
JB:He is a great football player. He is a winner. That is the type of person you want on your football team. He gets the job done. It may not be the prettiest, but it's efficient and it's done. You have to take your hat off to a guy who is able to get the job done through a lot of adverse conditions.
Q. The Steelers defense was ranked number one in the NFL this year. What are your thoughts if you had to face them in a game?
JB:I would hate it. When you look at this defense it's one of those defenses that are so physical that the smallest guy on the football field can knock you out. You look at a guy like Ryan Clark and you think that guy is a sure tackler. But if you go out there and are not paying attention, you can get leveled. That shows you how physical this entire defense is, not just the guys up front and the linebackers, it's everybody, the secondary. That's impressive for a defense.
Q. What is the key for the Steelers to win Super Bowl XLIII?
JB:The offensive line is going to be a key. Arizona's pass rush is one of the reasons they have been so effective in the playoffs. If the Steelers offensive line can neutralize that defensive front I think Ben will have some time to throw the football and they will be able to run the football with effectiveness. That is the big key.
Q. Hines Ward said he is going to play in the game despite his injured knee. Could you imagine anything but that happening?
JB:* I don't think there is anything that is going to keep him out of the game. He is the consummate pro. He will find a way to get on the football field.