DETROIT -- In a setting fit for a coronation, Ben Roethlisberger will come to pass today at Ford Field.
His success will determine whether Bill Cowher finally wins the big one, Jerome Bettis goes out on top and the Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback prodigy ascends to a prominent place in NFL lore.
Tonight's Super Bowl, replete with Roman numerals and the Rolling Stones, will serve as a launch point for Roethlisberger's Steelers or Matt Hasselbeck's Seattle Seahawks.
The question is which one?
The answer is in the quarterbacks.
At 23, Roethlisberger can become the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, beating out the New England Patriots' Tom Brady, who was 24 when he won his first of three.
At 30, Hasselbeck, a sixth-round afterthought in the 1998 draft, has a chance to validate coach Mike Holmgren's long-standing confidence in him.
This is a matchup that could make tonight's game special: the second-year phenom against the overlooked veteran.
What seems inevitable is that the Steelers, those faithful practitioners of the running game, will have to stay out of character for one more game to deliver Cowher's first Super Bowl victory after 14 years trying.
Pittsburgh called the most running plays in the NFL this season. But it was Roethlisberger's crisp, accurate throws that pushed the Steelers (14-5) to seven straight wins, including three on the road in the postseason.
"I give him a lot of credit these last seven weeks," Steelers center Jeff Hartings said last week. "He was the guy after losing three in a row that really didn't say a word in front of the team or anything like that, but more so in our huddle."
Roethlisberger's passing spoke louder than words. In the winning streak, he completed 64.3 percent of his throws (compared with 62.7 in the regular season) for nine touchdowns with three interceptions.
His performance in the playoffs is as much the reason the sixth-seeded Steelers are four-point favorites over the No. 1-seeded Seahawks (15-3) as was knocking off the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the AFC.
If the pattern of the postseason holds tonight, Roethlisberger will open up the passing game early, get the lead and watch the Steelers sit on the ball in the second half.
In the first half of the three playoff games, he completed 34 of 49 passes (69.4 percent) for six touchdowns and 486 yards. In the second half of those games, he completed 15 of 23 (65.2 percent) for one touchdown and 194 yards.
Yes, the Seahawks know what's coming - the Pittsburgh passing game.
"I think so," said Seattle defensive end Grant Wistrom. "I think they have a lot of confidence in what he's doing. And they have every right to have all the confidence in the world.
"He's a darn good quarterback; they have great receivers and a good offensive line protecting him. When you've got that combination, you've got to use them."
What concerns the Seahawks is Roethlisberger's ability to find his second and third receivers on the run. In a game that features mobile quarterbacks, Pittsburgh probably has the edge.
"Their passing game is effective because of their second effort," Seahawks safety Michael Boulware said. "Once they get in a scramble mode, they're really effective. We have to flash to our guy and not get caught looking back if they don't get open on the first read."
Hasselbeck probably needs to have success in the passing game to help open lanes for Shaun Alexander, the NFL's Most Valuable Player. In a narrow Week 7 win over Dallas, Alexander was held to 61 yards on 21 carries by the Cowboys' 3-4 defense.
Pittsburgh's 3-4 is different and probably better.
"We changed some of the things we have to do to prepare for their defense," Alexander said, "but it's not as extreme as you might think. We're not splitting atoms here; they just move some people around. We'll go play and see what happens."
There's an adjustment for the Steelers' defense, too. The Seahawks like a fast tempo and a quick snap. The rhythm they create in their West Coast offense works best when they spread the field, throw short slants and let Alexander find his creases.
"These guys come up to the line of scrimmage and they're gone," Cowher said. "We've worked on it all week. The guys are getting a sense of what this tempo is like.
"It's an offense that is a rhythm offense ... and we've got to find a way to disrupt it or else we could be in for a long day."
Dick LeBeau's zone blitzes could be the way. The Steelers' veteran defensive coordinator had great success getting pass rushers to Peyton Manning in a divisional-round upset of the Indianapolis Colts.
If he can do it against Hasselbeck, Roethlisberger will have his coronation and Bettis, the Steelers' inspirational leader, can close out a 13-year career on top.