'Polamalu is the nicest guy in the world'

The Steelers' staged the 10-year reunion for their Super Bowl XL team in conjunction with the Cleveland game on Nov. 15 and Matt Hasselbeck wasn't invited.

Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor traveled to China to be NFL ambassadors.

The Seahawks' quarterback then will be the Colts' quarterback on Sunday night, so his appearance at Heinz Field will be fashionably late.

But when he eventually shows up Hasselbeck insists he won't be holding a grudge.

"You want to really dislike a team after you lose to them in a game like that," Hasselbeck said on Wednesday during a teleconference with the Pittsburgh media. "In our division for a while it was 'The Greatest Show on Turf,' I really didn't want to like the Rams. And then I developed some friendships with guys that were on the Rams.

"I go back to that Super Bowl; I wanted to really dislike the Steelers. I think it was just a few days later, we arrived in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl and I come to find out Troy Polamalu is the nicest guy in the world. And I think Alan Faneca's kids and my kids were playing together for hours on the beach. Travis Kirschke, his wife becomes great friends with my wife. You almost can't dislike them.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for a lot of the players on the team we wound up losing to so I think you just get over it and realize that football is more about relationships at the end of the day."

The Steelers prevailed, 21-10, on Feb. 5, 2006, at Ford Field in Detroit.

Hasselbeck's regret is the Seahawks, in his estimation, didn't play as well as they were capable of playing.

"We all have good days and we all have bad days," he said. "We didn't have our best day as a team that day executing and playing well.  And that's what sports are, people who go out and try to do the best that they can."

Specifically, Seattle went 1-for-3 in the red zone.

And Hasselbeck was intercepted by Ike Taylor at the Pittsburgh 5-yard line early in the fourth quarter with the Steelers leading, 14-10.

Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Polamalu had a lot of defining plays throughout his career, take a look at some.

"Probably just coming away with touchdowns," might have made a difference, Hasselbeck said in retrospect. "The penalties hurt you in any game, not to ride that. But we had some big gains that got called back. It's just hard to have a long, sustained drive. We knew that was a team that wasn't going to give up a ton of big plays but our offense was rolling that year. Having the opportunity to get in the red zone and score touchdowns, that's what we had done all year. And for whatever reason in that game I had the turnover after the penalty and then we had field goals.

"I believe we might have even missed one (Josh Brown missed two, from 54 and from 50 yards away) and that never happened for us that year. All of us, it was the biggest game of our lives and we didn't play our best football."

Hasselbeck also credited Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau for being at the top of his game.

"He made a tremendous adjustment in that game," Hasselbeck said. "I think it was pretty genius of him.

"I had completed the first five (four) passes of that game to Darrell Jackson, who was our flanker/receiver, the receiver to the strong side. We had studied them for two weeks. We really knew what they were going to do, what they were going to be and how we wanted to attack them. And Dick LeBeau rolled the coverage to 'D-Jack' early, and just to the strong side.

"I didn't think too much of it during the game but looking back now it was a pretty smart move."

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu appeared in three Super Bowl Championships throughout his career.

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