Super Bowl Comparison – Runnings Backs
I continue the Super Bowl comparisons with a look at the Running Backs. Neither team features an elite back, but they both get contributions from multiple players.
Willie Parker, in my opinion, is the back most capable of delivering a big game in Super Bowl XLIII. He didn’t have a banner year (210 carries for 791 yards & 5 TDs), but turned in a 146 yard, 2 TD performance against San Diego in the Divisional Round. He was limited to 47 yards on 24 carries in the AFC Championship, but he faced Baltimore. Arizona has been playing great D in the playoffs, but they are no Baltimore. Parker had 93 yards on 10 carries (including a 75 yard TD) in his first Super Bowl appearance.
Mewelde Moore is one of the most versatile Running Backs in the league and one of Pittsburgh’s unsung heroes. In the mold of New England’s Kevin Faulk, Moore had 588 rushing yards with 5 TDs and 40 catches for 320 yards and a TD. He hasn’t been used much in the postseason, but I sense he might have a bigger role against Arizona.
Finally, Gary Russell (5’11, 215 lbs) can be used for the tough yardage. He didn’t do much in the regular season (28 carries for 77 yards), but he did punch it in three times. He added a TD against San Diego. I don’t see him being a big factor.
For Arizona, Edgerrin James has re-emerged as a feature back during the playoffs. It actually started in Week 17 when he ran for 100 yars on 14 carries. He had 207 yards and a TD in wins over Atlanta, Carolina, and Philadelphia. This after managing just 514 yards and 3 TDs in the regular season. There is no player I am rooting for more in the Super Bowl than Edge. I think he got a bum deal in Indy (although it was a move they had to make based on economics). He has always been a complete back. Despite his awesome quote “”I didn’t come here to block. I’m not an offensive lineman”, he has always been good at picking up the blitz. As much as I like Edge, I think this could be his last hurrah in Arizona and likely as a feature back. He’s on the wrong side of thiry and doesn’t seem willing to accept a backup role gracefully. Hard to blame him, because that’s all he really knows. I’d like to think he can continue his playoff success against Pittsburgh, but I’d just be kidding myself. Pittsburgh’s D is just too tough. Arizona is going to have to use it’s bread and butter…the passing game. You can hardly expect a TD out of him because that’s Hightower’s territory.
Tim Hightower is a beast. He reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Leroy Hoard. “If you need one yard, I’ll get you three. If you need four yards, I’ll get you three”. Talk about a guy who knew his limitations. He averaged just 2.8 yards per carry in the regular season. He did score 10 TDs though. Edge has got a lot of credit for stepping up his game in the regular season, but Hightower has as well. After rushing for 399 yards in 16 games he has 132 in three and a more respectable 3.9 yards per carry. He also has scored (1 rushing, 2 receiving) in each game. To me he’s the back most likely to reach paydirt.
J.J. Arrington is a guy who quietly played a nice role for Arizona this year. He averaged 6.0 yards per carry for 187 yards and a score. He also caught 29 passes out of the backfield for 255 yards and a score. He’s been a pretty effective Kick Returner averaging 25.6 yards per carry with a score. Like Mewelde Moore he hasn’t played a prominent role this offseason, but is the type of player who could be a sneaky hero on Super Bowl Sunday.