Woodley, Wilson poised to be difference-makers in Super Bowl XLIII

The old adage that defense wins championships has permeated the NFL in recent years, as evidenced by the most recent Super Bowl champions. Nine of the last 12 Super Bowl winners have featured a top-10 defense.

Super Bowl XLIII figures to be no exception. Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley and Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson are players to watch on Super Sunday.

LaMarr Woodley, LB, Steelers
In his first season as a starter, Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley seized the moment when opportunity arose. With a star-studded defense earning most of the attention from the opposition, Woodley was largely overlooked, slipping through gaps with ease and racked up 11.5 sacks during the regular season.

Woodley tallied four sacks in the Steelers' postseason run to Super Bowl XLIII. Dating back to last season, he is the first player in NFL history with at least two sacks in three straight playoffs games.

If the Steelers plan on winning their second Lombardi trophy in four years, the defense must keep pressure on Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner. The Super Bowl savvy gunslinger is prone to coughing up the football in the heat of a pass rush. He has eight fumbles in the Cardinals' seven losses as opposed to just three in their nine victories and can pick apart any defense if given time in the pocket.

Woodley and the Steelers should be primed, flaunting the NFL's top ranked defense on football biggest stage.

Adrian Wilson, S, Cardinals
Arizona strong safety Adrian Wilson and the Cardinals have accomplished more than they ever could have hoped for in 2008. Playing for a franchise known for its lack of success, Wilson is the longest active tenured Cardinal and had never experienced a winning season until this year's 9-7 finish.

Wilson is the defensive leader and lone Pro Bowler on a unit that ended the regular season ranked 19th in total defense. Averaging fewer than two takeaways a game during the regular season, Arizona's defense forced 12 turnovers in three playoff games.

In the last regular-season meeting against the Steelers in 2007, Wilson helped seal the Cardinals' 21-14 win with a late interception in the end zone.

The Cardinals depend on Wilson to do it all under defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's schemes. Whether it's racing up to shut down Willie Parker or jumping Ben Roethlisberger's passing lanes, he will be a key cog if the Cardinals plan to win Super Bowl XLIII.

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