February 6, 2011 – Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, Texas
So here it was. The 6th seeded Packers from the NFC for All the marbles on the line vs. the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers & their #1 defense. This is the stuff hollywood stories are made of & Super Bowl XLV was a microcosm of the Packers entire season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were looking for their seventh Lombardi Trophy against the younger Green Bay Packers. The Green Bay Packers have clawed their way to the Super Bowl amid a plethora of injuries and two concussions to their quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
No matter which team wins, they will have 10 Super Bowl titles between them. After the hoopla and the not-so-good rendition of the Nation Anthem was completed, the kickoff began and Mason Crosby kicked it deep. Both teams were tentative early but Rodgers heated up quickly by throwing a 29-yard strike to Jordy Nelson for an early 7-0 lead in the 1st quarter.
Just 24 seconds later, the Packers were ahead by 14. Throwing from his end zone, Roethlisberger had his arm hit by backup nose tackle Howard Green. The ball fluttered to the Pittsburgh 37, where Collins settled under it, then scooted down the right sideline and dived into the end zone for the 13th interception return for a score in a Super Bowl. Teams doing so are now 11-0 in Super Bowls.
Needing to get busy or get buried, Pittsburgh put together a 13-play drive to Shaun Suisham’s 33-yard field goal. Then, after moving well again, Mike Wallace’s pass was stolen from his hands by Bush at the Steelers’ 46.
Rodgers coolly completed passes to Jennings and Nelson, James Starks ran for 12 yards as Polamalu whiffed on a tackle, then Jennings reached high and slightly behind to snag a 21-yarder over Polamalu for a 21-3 edge.
“I had some opportunities to make some plays,” Polamalu said. “I was just off a step here or there.”
Then a few terrible things happened. Injuries to Donald Driver (ankle), Sam Shields (shoulder) & Charles Woodson (broken collarbone) nearly derailed the Packers championship dreams.
Jarrett Bush would intercept a Roethlisberger pass thwarting one drive.
Woodson saw the Steelers, who rallied from a 21-7 halftime hole against the Baltimore Ravens three weeks ago, show the same resilience. A 37-yard catch-and-run by Antwaan Randle El — an almost forgotten figure during his return season with just 22 receptions — sparked a quick 77-yard drive. Hines Ward, the 2006 Super Bowl MVP, had 39 yards on three catches during the series, including an 8-yard TD on which he completely fooled Green Bay’s Jarrett Bush.
21-10 at the half & the momentum is clearly on the side of the Steelers.
Starting the 2nd half, A quick defensive stop and a 50-yard drive to Rashard Mendenhall’s 8-yard touchdown run made it 21-17.But with coach Mike Tomlin’s team driving for perhaps its first lead of the game, Mendenhall was stripped at the Green Bay 33 by Clay Matthews — one of the few plays the All-Pro linebacker made. The Packers recovered the loose ball, and on the ensuing drive Rodgers hit Jennings for 8 yards and the winning points.
Pittsburgh’s last score was on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace and a brilliant pitchout by Roethlisberger to Randle El for a two-point conversion, making it 28-25 with 7:34 left.
Mason Crosby added a 23-yard field goal for the Packers, and the Steelers had no more comebacks in them like the one Roethlisberger staged to win the Super Bowl two years ago. He missed on his last three passes in the final moments this time.
Aaron Rodgers earned the Most Valuable Player with three touchdowns and 304 yards of total passing. Rodgers looked calm and in control as he led his team through injuries and adversity to their first Super Bowl win in 14 years. Rodgers was error free in his first Super Bowl with no interceptions.
“You play to be world champions,” Matthews said, “and that’s what we are today.”
Capping one of the greatest postseasons for any quarterback, Rodgers led the Packers to their first NFL championship in 14 years Sunday, 31-25 over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Green Bay reclaimed the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named for its legendary coach who won the first two Super Bowls and is making his own star turn in New York in the play named after him.
Rodgers, thrilled his legion of fans with a spectacular six-game string that should finally erase the bitterness of the Brett Favre separation in Green Bay. After sitting for three long years before Favre left in 2008, Rodgers is now equal with the retired quarterback in Super Bowl wins, and he extended the Packers’ record of NFL titles to 13, nine before the Super Bowl era.
“You can stop it now,” Packers veteran wide receiver Donald Driver said. “Aaron’s proved that he’s one of the best, if not the best, quarterback in this game today.”
The favored Packers managed to overcame key injuries, building a 21-3 lead, then hung on to become the only second No. 6 seed to win the championship. Coincidentally, the 2005 Steelers were the other.
“Wow! It’s a great day to be great, baby,” said Greg Jennings, who caught two of Rodgers’ three touchdown passes.
Rodgers threw for 304 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown to Jordy Nelson, who had nine catches for 140 yards to make up for three big drops. Rodgers found Jennings, normally his favorite target, for 21- and 8-yard scores.
“We’ve been a team that’s overcome adversity all year,” said Jennings, who noted injuries to cornerback Charles Woodson and Driver. “Our head captain goes down, emotional in the locker room. Our No. 1 receiver goes down, more emotions are going, flying in the locker room. But we find a way to bottle it up and exert it all out here on the field.”
Woodson was in so much pain from a broken left collarbone that he could barely address the team at halftime in the locker room.
Few teams have been as resourceful as these Packers, who couldn’t wait to touch the trophy honoring their greatest coach — and their title. Several of them kissed it as Dallas Cowboys great Roger Staubach walked through a line of green and gold, then up to the massive stage on the 50-yard line with the silver prize that is headed back to the NFL’s smallest city.
“That is where it belongs,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “As long as the Packers have lived, it’s going to be great to bring that back.”
…and yes, the Green Bay Packers are World Champions of football once again!!