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D4 SUNDAY, JANUARY 28. 1996 SUPER BOWL XXX THE SALINA JOURNAL T COMMENT JASON WHITLOCK The Kansas City Star O'Donnell has big $$$ on the line TEMPE, Ariz. — Thank God the hype is almost over. We're just a few hours away from being bored stiff by another Stupor Bowl. • Pittsburgh quarterback Neil O'Donnell has about $3 million riding on today's Super Bowl. That's how much money O'Donnell can earn by having a strong performance today. He's a free agent at the end of this season, and the New York teams, the Giants and the Jets, are reportedly prepared to pay O'Donnell $5 or $6 million to relocate. But if O'Donnell bombs in the Super Bowl, he'll only command $3 million to $3.5 million on the open market. "I'm not even thinking about that right now," O'Donnell said early this week. "I'll worry about that after the season." I say no way O'Donnell's worth $5 million. If a New York team offers O'DonneU that kind of money, the Steelers should let him go and begin preparing Kordell Stewart to take over. • Is anyone aware just how close ' Pittsburgh Coach Bill Cowher came to being the next Marty Schottenheimer? Had Indianapolis' Aaron Bailey caught that Hail Mary pass and beaten the Steelers a lot of people would be claiming that Cowher can't win the big game. That would have been the second straight AFC title game that Cowher would have lost in the last seconds. My point is that Schottenheimer is just as good a coach as Cowher. He just hasn't gotten lucky yet. • Up close and in person, Dallas guard Nate Newton isn't nearly as fat as he appears on TV. The guy is just huge. His arms are the size of a 190-pound guy's thighs and so are his calves. • According to Newton, the No. 1 thing that got the Cowboys back to the Super Bowl was the infamous fourth-and-1 failure against Philadelphia. "If you want to really bring a team together," Newton said, "have 'em go for it on fourth and 1 on the 29. That's when we found out that the only people who cared about us were the people in the locker room. The media and everybody just ate us alive. That'll bring a team together." • Because of the fourth-and-1 failure, because of the so-called media attacks on owner Jerry Jones and Coach Barry Switzer and because of the recent controversy surrounding Troy Aikman, don't be surprised, if the Cowboys win, when you see the wildest post- game, victory celebration in NFL history. The Cowboys can't wait to say "I told you so." • The key matchup of the game? Steelers left tackle John Jackson vs. Cowboys end Charles Haley. Jackson has had major trouble with pass protection the second half of the season. If Haley's ailing back allows him to play in passing situations, look for him to single- handedly shut down the Steelers' passing attack. • I saw the Fabulous Sports Babe in person. I wish I hadn't. • Here's one vote for not bringing another Super Bowl back to boring Arizona. Phoenix shuts down at 1 a.m. • I don't like Tommie Frazier as a full-time NFL quarterback. The man doesn't throw accurately enough. But I don't have a doubt that he could be a better "Slash" than Pittsburgh's KordeU "Slash" Stewart. T TELEVISION •?.., aaJohhLWiniaimi:^. ^^ • S\A 43 Steve Av4?y'<< ' < r 34Tim < Lester 95 Chad Mannings 91 Darren Benson -^ Steelers Cowboys '"Wr** offense defense • 99 Hurvin McCormack ~ Wn • RT 89 Ernie Mills 72LeonSearcy 83 Corey Holliday 73 Justin Strzelczyk LCB 21 Deion Sanders, Probable starters in boldface 23 Robert Bailey StBroclf * Martorf 42Charli€; Williams' l LBc ^/43GregBrlggs; 59. Darrln Smith 98 Godfrey Myles 52 Jim Schwantz 57Eric 94 Chad Brown 22 Emmltt Smith 20 Sherman Williams 36 Dominique Ross jkKennard e'Hellestrae' , 5 68 Michael Batiste-^ ' LG .96 Brentson Buckner . ' 90 Bill Johnson' ' ' ,'' RE 97RaySeals C^AOIare 76 Kevin Henry QltSdfSrS 980l,verGibson (^61186 Cowboys offense 68 Michael Batiste LT f* ss 40 Myron Bell 37 Carnell Lake 41 Lethon Flowers RCB ^ a* RQLB 37 Carnell Lake Mf 95 Greg Lloyd 28AlvoidMays /7l 57EricRavotti 21 Deon Figures W 54 Donta Jones T GAME ANALYSIS BY BILLS COACH MARV LEVY Probable starters in boldface 71 MarkTulnel 82 Cory 65 Ron Stone Fleming 69 George Hegamin 87 Billy Davis AP/Ed De GaseV' Dallas gets nod, but not in a rout Cowboys' offense has qualities to cope with Steelers' defense By MARV LEVY For The Associated Press TEMPE, Ariz. — Picking the winner of this year's Super Bowl is easy. Being right? That's another story. Like almost everyone else, I feel the Dallas Cowboys will prevail. But it won't be by as comfortable a margin as the oddsmakers predict. The Steelers, like the Cowboys, are potent, sound and productive on offense, defense and special teams. They truly are the strongest team in the AFC this year, just as I believe Dallas is the strongest in the NFC. For the non-partisan fan, this is the best matchup the NFL could have offered. The biggest advantage for the Cowboys lies in their extremely well-balanced offense. The combination of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Jay Novacek, an overpowering up-front five and perfect-fit fullback Daryl Johnston keeps excruciating game-long pressure on the best of defenses. It is a unit that has no equal in this year's NFL. Yes, Pittsburgh's defense is very difficult to solve. The brilliantly crafted "zone-dog" schemes are capable of wreaking panic and pain on an offense without incurring the big-play risks that afflict most heavy blitz teams. The Steelers have a great corps of linebackers in Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Levon Kirkland and Chad Brown. Their secondary profits from heavy pressure from the pass rush. The Dallas offense, however, has qualities which should allow it to cope with the Steelers' defensive strengths. The Cowboys' anil- ity to run and effect football's best run-action passing game, gives them a unique advantage in countering Pittsburgh's defensive strengths. The Steelers' offense strikes quite a contrast, not just with Dallas but with Pittsburgh's own recent style. Their offensive approach has always been sound and balanced. But this season, they have become much more daring. They have discovered and utilized the electrifying talents of what was once a relatively unknown corps of receivers. Ernie Mills, Yancey Thigpen, Andre Hastings and Kordell Stewart have all become big- play contributors. The emergence of Neil O'Donnell as a premier quarterback has been a vital component in this birth of a new offense. The Steelers have become swashbuckling and exciting. I see parallels to what occurred to us with the Buffalo Bills when we first came riding out of the tundra with our no-huddle offense a few years ago. Such changes, however, are not without a price and not without some risks. The Steelers' running game isn't as integral as it once was. But that, I acknowledge, is a nitpicking observation. What they have done has been instrumental in getting them into the Super Bowl. In a championship game, you may sorely miss not being able to run effectively. But without the bold changes the Steelers made early this season, they probably wouldn't be here to find out. Give Bill Cowher and his coaching staff credit — they deserve it. The question is whether Dallas can stop them. The key to that is whether the Cowboys are successful in taking away time and room from O'Donnell so that Pittsburgh cannot efficiently execute its passing game. If Leon Lett, Chad Hennings and others can keep O'Donnell from •stepping up and delivering on rhythm, I believe Dallas will have taken its own necessary key step in thwarting Pittsburgh's offensive weaponary. Do I believe they'll be able to do that? I'll keep it simple: Yes. How about the kicking game? I dislike giving this vital area such short shrift, but I will get right to the point. Both teams are well drilled and have very capable specialists. Neither team has employed a heart-stopping gamebreaker as a return man, although I believe Dallas is more dangerous — very dangerous if Deion Sanders handles returns. These are two very well-coached teams. I refer not only to head coaches Bill Cowher and Barry Switzer, but to their staffs as well. Bill rallied a team that was floundering early. Barry has overcome the losses of outstanding coordinators Dave Wannstedt and Norv Turner. He has done it by being himself. Has any coach ever taken a job where the only acceptable outcome is winning the Super Bowl? I predict Dallas will win 28-23. STEELERS EDGE How they match up SUPER BOWL XXX Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona Today NBC, 5:20 p.m. COWBOYS EDGE The Steelers' 407 points were the fourth best in the NFL and best In the AFC. The keys are quarterback Neil O'Donnell and rookie Kordell "Slash' Stewart, who runs, throws and catches. TEAM OFFENSE The game's best offensive line, with j quarterback Troy Aikman, wide receiver- Michael Irvin and running back Emmitt | Smith - The Triplets." Comerback Deion * • Sanders is also a wide receiving threat. X The Steelers are one of only four NFL teams to play a 3-4 defense. They depend on a big three-man front to keep blockers off the linebackers. The defense often gambles, blitzing both safeties and corners. TEAM DEFENSE Built by Jimmy Johnson, it depends on speed. Much will depend on the health of defensive end Charles Haley, the best pass rusher, who is coming off back surgery. Linebackers can be weak. Steelers lost a lot when Rod Woodson was hurt; he was a bonafide TD threat. Punter Rohn Stark and kicker Norm Johnson are both reliable veterans and coverage teams have always been good. SPECIAL TEAMS Kicker Chris Boniol missed only one - field goal attempt in regular season and punter John Jett is adequate. Key Is Deion Sanders, who may be used on punt and kickoff returns. He's a threat any time he touches the ball, X Bill Cowher has been to the playoffs all four of his years in the league and his staff is first rate, particularly offensive coordinator Ron Erhardt, who has two Super Bowl rings with the Giants. COACHES Barry Switzer has been under fire for two seasons since succeeding Jimmy Johnson. The staff has lost a lot of good people to head coaching jobs, but offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese is first rate. X The Steelers must .guard against the "just glad to be here" syndrome. Only backup quarterback Mike Tomczak and backup defensive back Alvoid Mays have been to the Super Bowl before. INTANGIBLES The pressure Is on' Switzer to win. • Experience helps, but If Pittsburgh comes out flying and gets an early. turnover, it could be anyone's game.;. AP/Dave Goldberg, Ed De Gasero NBC to keep With Deion-cam, network guaranteed not to miss any action by versatile Cowboy By JOHN NELSON The Associated Press Call it the Deion-cam. It's one of the little jewels of technology that NBC will use to track one of the NFL's most bejeweled performers today when it does its 14th Super Bowl. But while NBC will place an emphasis on Deion Sanders, network executives stress that this is not a game of toys and trinkets to them. "I'm going to cover the game from the standpoint of basics," NBC game director John Gonzalez said. "You start with the same basic cameras and the additional facilities will be mostly for isolation." In a game of this magnitude, producer John Faratzis said, the cardinal rule is: SANDERS "You don't want to miss anything." Faratzis said that with the Dallas Cowboys meeting the Pittsburgh Steelers, NBC expects big ratings. The network, which has sold 58 commercial units for a record average of $1.2 million per 30 seconds, expects a rating of about 45, representing about 135 million viewers. NBC Sports president Dick Ebersol said that with 21/2 hours of pregame shows, plus postgame airtime, the network could gross as much as $90 million in commercial revenues, compared with the $75 million that ABC had last year. The pregame starts at 2:30 p.m. CST, with the game show beginning at 5 p.m. "The Cowboys are a big draw, a nationally recognized team," Faratzis said. "Even casual fans know Troy Aikman, i focused on Sanders throughout Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders. With San Francisco last year, ABC got a 41.3. The two previous Super Bowls on NBC got 45.1 and 45.5, so we out- rated them with the Cowboys as opposed to the 49ers." NBC knows that one of the biggest draws on the Cowboys is Sanders, so Sanders will be followed from sidelines to huddle, virtually everywhere he goes, by a cameraman. "When we talked about facilities for coverage of this Super Bowl, we didn't know who the participants would be," Faratzis said. "But all along we said we wanted one camera to delegate to whomever the prominent personality would be. There are stars that command that." If San Francisco had been in the Super Bowl, NBC might have had a Rice-cam. NBC also considered isolating Pittsburgh's KordeU Stewart, but he doesn't play both offense and defense, as Sanders does. "We just felt that if anything happened to Deion, it would command enough attention that we'd be criticized if we didn't have it," Faratzis said. From a production standpoint, about the only other trinkets NBC has added are some slow- motion tape machines and low-angle cameras. "As you know, the coverage of football has gone very low," Gonzalez said. Gonzalez said that when his production team originally went into Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., the main action camera positions were too high, and there was no end zone camera position at one end. An additional end-zone position was found, and "we brought the main camera positions down to loge level. They're perfect now. Unfortunately, we lost some seating," Gonzalez said. In developing a philosophy for covering a big game like a Super Bowl, Faratzis 7 said the networks have gone in slightly I different directions. For him, the underlying theme will be the drama. "I like to look at the emotions and see the drama. That's what I strive for," Faratzis said. "I think ABC is more into the cameras — tight action, low angles—• but not as much emotion. From Fox, you get more strategy, which only stands to ' reason because of John Madden and his • telestrator. "We won't ignore strategy, and we also like some of those low-angle replays*with' the guy running straight at you or the ball coming at you through the air, the NFL Films type of stuff." Because a new NFL television contract was negotiated three years ago, NBC » wound up with three of the last four Su- i per Bowls, so Faratzis, Gonzalez, et al have a depth of experience. i "The first time, I was so nervous I had a tough time getting right into the flow," Faratzis said.