What’s the best way to recap the Green Bay Packers 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, you ask? With a 700-word “Winners and Losers” column, of course!
The last four Super Bowls broadcast on Fox have each been decided by six points or less. Included in this stretch has been a game between two of the NFL’s top fan bases (Pittsburgh and Green Bay), two of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history (New York over New England and New England over St. Louis) and the culmination of the Patriots dynasty (New England over Philadelphia).
Is this simply a stroke of good luck? Absolutely! Up until 2006, the game rotated among the four major networks, and is now alternated between FOX, CBS and NBC. But somewhere, FOX Sports President Eric Shanks is smiling.
And I think this just set the record for most obvious “Winner” in a Super Bowl recap column of all-time. This year, Rodgers has performed the impressive task of stepping out of a legend’s shadow, defeating a convicted felon and taking down a quarterback twice accused of sexual assault, all in the same postseason!
As for his performance on Sunday, all it does is put the exclamation point on Rodgers’ ascension to the top of the quarterback class. His 304-yard, three-touchdown dissection of the Pittsburgh defense is as good a performance as I’ve seen in a Super Bowl, and the stat line could have even been better if not for a few costly drops.
The biggest praise I can give Rodgers is that, just like the other great quarterbacks, he makes his receivers better. How many receptions would Austin Collie bring in if not for his quarterback? How about Deion Branch?
Jordy Nelson and James Jones are good players. But they’re not a combined 14 catches for 190 yards and a touchdown good. Elite quarterbacks make those around them better, and that’s what Rodgers has done.
If you’re not from Wisconsin or are a Green Bay Packers fan, I could give you a thousand guesses before you realize Howard Green is an NFL defensive tackle. But Green’s play was as big as any in Super Bowl XLV.
With the Steelers backed up on their own seven-yard line late in the opening quarter, Ben Roethlisberger was ready to hit a streaking Mike Wallace down the left sideline to tie the game 7-7. Wallace had his man beat, but Green surged through the line and hit Roethlisberger’s arm during his throwing motion.
This resulted in one of the easiest interceptions of Nick Collins’ career, which he returned for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
In a game where Green Bay knew it was just a matter of time before Pittsburgh made its run, any early lead the Packers built would be crucial.
Pittsburgh’s Two-Minute Offense
Some of the words I’ve seen used to describe Pittsburgh’s final drive: “confused,” “discombobulated,” “Redskins-esque.” And If I hadn’t told you I made that last one up, I’m sure you would’ve believed it.
In a situation where Pittsburgh has thrived in years past, the Steelers were not on the same page at all, as evidenced by Wallace not knowing the play on the drive’s third down. I never thought I’d see Pittsburgh unravel with the game on the line like that.
This falls partly on the shoulders of Mike Tomlin, who thought it would be a good idea to call Suisham out for a 52-yard field goal. A good kick in this situation, however unlikely, still keeps Green Bay in front. But a miss gives one of the league’s hottest offenses starting field position at their own 42-yard line.
As for the kick, the ball missed about 10 yards to the left. Remember, the game was played with the roof closed. Yikes!
Whoever Watched The Game For The Cheerleaders
Because there weren’t any. Of the six NFL teams that do not have cheerleaders, two of them played this past Sunday, making this the first Super Bowl in its 45-year history without cheerleaders.
There is a joke to be made here somewhere, and I could go that route, but I don’t think either of my editors would let it appear in the paper.