Sunday, February 6, 2011
Rodgers leads Packers to Super Bowl win over Steelers 31-25!
The Green Bay Packers are bringing the Lombardi trophy back home to Titletown, USA. The Packers were led by Aaron Rodgers who will no longer have to look over his shoulder and see Brett Favre's shadow. Rodgers the Super Bowl MVP was near perfect in the win over the Steelers throwing for 304 yards with three touchdowns despite several drops from his receivers. The Packers took advantage of three Steelers turnovers and turned those turnovers into 21 points. Despite a late rally by the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger the Packers were victorious. The Packers have won the Super Bowl for the fourth time in franchise history but first time since 1996 when Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre ran the show. The Packers will celebrate this victory while the Steelers will be kicking themselves as they blew their chance to become elite status. Both these franchises have young franchise quarterbacks so they'll have plenty of chances to get back to this big game. At the start of the year yours truly predicted the Packers would win the Super Bowl which you can read right here.
The Packers in this Super Bowl game never once trailed throughout the entire game. The Packers are dropping some early passes finally started to amount a drive against the Steelers defense. After a dropped pass killed the Packers first drive Rodgers as he would all game would hit his passes on the second drive. Rodgers would hit Jordy Nelson for a gain of nine to set up a third and one. Then James Starks would rush for eight yards for a first down to the Packers 37 yard line. After another first down conversation by Starks to the Packers 46 yard line. Rodgers would hit Brandon Jackson for a 14 yard gain to the Steelers 38 yard line. Then facing a third and one from the Steelers 29 yard line the Packers called for a play action pass to Nelson who had dropped an earlier touchdown. This time Rodgers hit Nelson for the 29 yard touchdown pass to the right corner of the end zone. The Packers would take an early 7-0 lead on the Steelers after a Rodgers touchdown pass.
The game went from bad to worse for the Steelers. After a holding penalty which backed the Steelers to their own seven yard line Roethlisberger would throw an ill-advised deep pass. That pass was intercepted by Nick Collins and was ran back 37 yards for the touchdown to give the Packers a 14-0 lead. Believe it or not that 14-0 lead was huge as no team had ever came back from 14 points down to win a Super Bowl. Collins did receive an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty which would give the Steelers good field position. The Steelers starting on their own 36 yard line would go on a 13 play 49 yard drive which would eat up over seven minutes in time of possession. The Steelers would have to settle for a Shaun Suisham 33 yard field goal to cut the score to 14-3. After the Packers would go three and out the Steelers would have a chance to grab momentum. Roethlisberger would be intercepted once again at midfield with four minutes to go in the half. The Packers would try to take advantage of Roethlisberger's mistake and put the game away.
Aaron Rodgers would waste little time to take advantage of the Steelers mistake. Rodgers would hit Jennings for a four yard gain then would hit Nelson for a gain of 16 yards to the Steelers 33 yard line. Starks would then run for 12 yards to the Steelers 21 yard line. Rodgers would then fire a pass down the middle to Jennings for a 21 yard touchdown with 2:24 left in the half. For Rodgers that would be his second touchdown pass of the first half. The Packers would take a commanding 21-3 lead against the Steelers. No team had ever came back from 18 points down in the Super Bowl. The Steelers would make a game of it right before the half though. You see you can't put a team who has won two Super Bowls in the last five seasons away that easily. The Steelers were left plenty of time to still try and salvage the half and get some momentum going into halftime. This is when Roethlisberger would finally start hitting his passes to make the game interesting.
The Steelers started on their own 23 yard line knowing that they must get a score or any hopes at a championship would most likely end. Roethlisberger on the first play would hit Antwaan Randle El for a gain of 37 yards to the Packers 40 yard line. The Packers on this drive would lose both starting cornerbacks Charles Woodson(2009 Defensive MVP) and Sam Shields. Facing a third and 10 from the Packers 40 yard line Roethlisberger would hit Hines Ward down the middle for a 14 yard gain to the Packers 26 yard line. Facing a second and nine from the Packers 25 yard line Roethlisberger would hit Ward once again down the middle for a gain of 17 yards to the Packers eight yard line. Then Roethlisberger once again hit Ward to complete the drive hitting Ward for an eight yard touchdown pass. Up until that touchdown Roethlisberger had five interceptions to just one touchdown in the Super Bowl. With that touchdown the Steelers close the gap to 21-10 at halftime. The Steelers trailed by just 11 points and the Packers two starting corners along with Donald Driver were out of the game.
The Steelers would begin the second half by three and outing the mighty Packers offense. After a poor punt and penalty the Steelers had the ball at midfield. The Steelers didn't even attempt a single pass on this scoring drive. The drive began with Rashard Mendenhall running for 17 yards to the Packers 33 yard line. Facing a second and seven from the Packers 30 yard line Roethlisberger would rush for six yards setting up a third and one from the Packers 24 yard line. Isaac Redman took the carry on the short yardage situation and ran 16 yards to the Packers eight yard line. That is when Mendenhall capped the drive with an eight yard touchdown drive to cut the lead to 21-17. The Steelers defense would three and out the Packers offense once again. The Steelers then went on a nine play drive to the Packers 29 yard line but Roethlisberger would get sacked. The Steelers would then miss the 52 yard field goal attempt.
The Steelers had all the momentum in the game and it had appeared they were going to complete the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. The Steelers with the ball on the Packers 33 yard line would hand off to Mendenhall who had crushed the Packers to that point but Clay Matthews would force the fumble. The Steelers would turn the ball over for the third time in the game. The Packers then had new life on their own 45 yard line. Facing a critical third and seven from their own 48 yard line Rodgers would hit James Jones who had dropped a few passes already. Jones made a great diving catch on the sideline for a gain of 12 yards to extend the drive. On second and 10 from the Steelers 40 yard line Rodgers would hit Nelson only Nelson would drop the pass. The Packers would have four drops on the game. Rodgers not losing faith in his teammate would hit Nelson on a key third down conversation for a gain of 38 yards to the Steelers two yard line. After getting sacked Rodgers would hit Jennings for an eight yard touchdown to take a commanding 28-17 lead with under 12 minutes to go. That would be Rodgers third touchdown pass of the game. The Steelers weren't willing to go away so easily though.
The Steelers with their season on the line would do what they've done all night which is answer back with a score of their own. After a Roethlisberger completion for nine yards he would hit Mike Wallace for 16 yards to the Packers 46 yard line. Roethlisberger would hit Wallace once again for 14 yards to the Packers 32 yard line. After a holding penalty and a pass of two yards Roethlisberger was facing a critical second and 18 when he hit Ward for a gain of 15 to set up a third and three from the Packers 25 yard line. On third and three Roethlisberger would hit Wallace on a perfect fade pass for the touchdown to cut the lead to 28-23. The Steelers would go for two to cut the lead down to a field goal. Roethlisberger in shotgun would run a play that you would see at Autzen Stadium with the Oregon Ducks. Roethlisberger would take the snap run to his left then option pitch it to Randle El who scored on the two point conversation. With seven and a half minutes to go the Packers would have the ball up only 28-25. This would be Rodgers defining drive and the biggest drive of his life. Like he had all night long he would deliver once again.
The Packers would begin this crucial drive from their own 25 yard line. Rodgers would get sacked on the first play of the drive. Then Rodgers would hit Nelson for a gain of nine yards. After a critical false start penalty the Packers faced the biggest play of their lives which was third and 10 from the 25 yard line. This is when Rodgers despite throwing three touchdowns in the game would complete the biggest pass of his life. He would hit Jennings on a seam pattern down the middle for a gain of 31 to the Steelers 44 yard line. Had the Packers failed there the Steelers would have great field position with over five minutes to go in the game. Starks on the next play would rush for 15 yards to the Steelers 29 yard line. Facing a second and nine from the Steelers 29 yard line Rodgers would hit James Jones for a gain of 21 yards to the Steelers eight yard line. After two short completions the Packers faced a third and goal from the five yard line which Rodgers pass hit Nelson in both hands but was incomplete. The Packers would settle for a Mason Crosby 23 yard field goal to go up 31-25. The Steelers would have two minutes and only one timeout left to try and win the game.
The Steelers would have one last shot from their own 13 yard line. Roethlisberger would hit Heath Miller down the middle for a gain of 15 yards to their own 28 yard line. After a pass for five yards to their own 33 yard line the Steelers would then have three straight incomplete passes. The last one hit Wallace in both his hands but was dropped. Steeler fans including Roethlisberger at the time would argue that there should have been pass interference called. There was no such call and the Green Bay Packers were going to win the Super Bowl! Head coach Mike McCarthy joins legends such as Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren as the third coach in Packers history to win a Super Bowl. The Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had to sit his first three years after falling to the late first round. Remember the San Francisco 49ers debated on who to take with the first pick overall Aaron Rodgers or Alex Smith. Rodgers wins the MVP for the Packers and has now won as many Super Bowls as Brett Favre. Rodgers is creating his own legend in Green Bay and the Packers are experiencing a run of quarterbacks not seen since the 49ers had Joe Montana hand the torch over to Steve Young.
All in all the Green Bay Packers are the Super Bowl champions led by Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers was 24 of 39 passing for 304 yard with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Rodgers would have a quarterback rating of 111.5 for the game. His counterpart Ben Roethlisberger would have his struggles early but played well in the second half. For Roethlisberger he would finish completing 25 of 40 passes for 263 yards with two touchdowns but two very costly interceptions. The Packers took advantage of the Steelers turnovers scoring 21 points off the Steelers three turnovers. The Packers themselves did not turn the ball over but were far from perfect. The Packers had a few dumb penalties but many were killed by dropped passes. Nonetheless the Packers led by Rodgers are the Super Bowl champions. Not like Ted Thompson and other Packers management needed "validation" on choosing Rodgers over Favre but today definately gave them that. The Packers are the world champions despite being in the smallest city in profesional sports. Nobody can ever take away this championship from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers!
- Mike McCarthy joins Mike Holmgren and of course Vince Lombardi as Super Bowl winning head coaches in Green Bay Packers history. When the Packers hired McCarthy he was a fairly unknown coach at the time. He had came from the San Francisco 49ers organization. McCarthy hired as head coach after the Packers went 4-12 in 2005. McCarthy was hired over Sean Payton who would join the Saints in 2006. McCarthy in his first year started off slow at 4-8 but the Packers won four in a row to go to 8-8. Meanwhile Payton led the Saints to the NFC title game so I'm sure some fans in Green Bay were thinking they hired the wrong guy.
In 2007 McCarthy in just his second season led the Packers to the NFC Championship game. Led by Brett Favre have a resurgence in his career the Packers hosted the NFC title game only to lose to eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. That is when the Packers underwent a change which was rough for a coach entering just his third season. The Packers decided to say good bye to Brett Favre despite being one game away from the Super Bowl. The Packers traded him to the Jets for a third round draft pick(Which was traded to move up in first round to select Clay Matthews). In 2008 the Packers suffered only their second losing season since 1993 with Aaron Rodgers.
Last year was another tough year for the Packers and McCarthy. The Packers finally made the playoffs again only to lose 51-45 in a wild Wild Card playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals. What made the year so tough was that Brett Favre played for the Minnesota Vikings and swept the Packers. The Vikings also played in the NFC Championship game. The Saints with Sean Payton who the Packers passed on won the Super Bowl that year.
This year the Packers were the trendy pick to go to the Super Bowl. The first game of the year they lost starting running back Ryan Grant. The Packers lost 13 players to the IR including stud tight end JerMichael Finley. The Packers had heartbreaking losses this year losing six games by just 20 points. The Packers never once trailed by seven points at any point in this season(20 games including playoffs). The Packers were out of the playoffs with two games to go had to beat the Giants and then the Bears to advance. Then the Packers had to upset the Eagles on the road, Falcons on the road and then the Bears. Now the Packers are the Super Bowl champions and nobody will ever question hiring Mike McCarthy. Seeing how the San Francisco 49ers had McCarthy the whole time but never promoted him. Now McCarthy is kind in Green Bay. The previous two Super Bowl winning coaches have a street named after them when will McCarthy get his?
- What do Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger all have in common? Won a Super Bowl right? Well that and those are the last four losing quarterbacks in the Super Bowl. Showing that possibly experience in the big game is overrated.
In three of those four guys cases(Warner lost to Roethlisberger) the Super Bowl winning quarterback had never played in the big game before. Brady lost to Eli Manning who before that year had never won a playoff game in his career. Then Peyton Manning lost to Drew Brees who before that year had just one career playoff win. Now Roethlisberger lost to Rodgers who before this year had played in just one playoff game in his career.
Just goes to show you that Super Bowl experience could be overrated as Super Bowl winning quarterbacks are losing to first time quarterbacks. The days of Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson and Rex Grossman starting Super Bowls appear to be over. In the past four Super Bowls all seven quarterbacks(Roethlisberger went twice) have gone to a pro bowl. Since 2003 only Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have been to the Super Bowl in the AFC. While 10 different teams in 10 years have gone to the Super Bowl in the NFC since 2001.
- This Super Bowl will be remembered as the Super Bowl that Aaron Rodgers finally escaped the Brett Favre shadow. He has been terrific taking over for Favre throwing for over 4,000 in his first two seasons and just missing it in his third season as a starter in the NFL. In the life of the NFL though you are measured by what you do in the playoffs especially if you are a quarterback.
Rodgers heading into this year was 0-1 in the playoffs but that playoff game was hardly his fault. In his first career playoff start the Packers lost 51-45 in overtime where Rodgers threw for 423 yards with four touchdowns including a rushing touchdown and just one interception. This year Rodgers was also on fire in the playoffs passing for nine touchdowns to just two interceptions while rushing for two touchdowns. In his career in five games he is 4-1 while completing 67.8% of his passes for 1,517(305.7 per game) yards. Rodgers has thrown for 13 touchdowns to three interceptions with three rushing touchdowns in his playoff career with a rating of 112.6.
Another decision the San Francisco 49ers fans have to be kicking themselves over. Just like Tim Lincecum with Seattle fans Rodgers is from the Bay Area. Rodgers was stellar for California yet the 49ers chose Alex Smith with the #1 pick overall. The 49ers haven't been to the playoffs since 2002 while the Packers have had just two losing seasons since 1993. The 49ers could have easily had the Rodgers-McCarthy combo instead they sit at home wondering what could have been?
The Packers chose Rodgers although he wasn't a need. The Packers had Brett Favre already who never gets injured as he started 296 consecutive games in his career from 1992-2010. Rodgers was to good of a value to pass up with the 24th pick plus Favre had threatened retirement since the 2003 season. The Packers didn't want to be like the Arizona Cardinals this year where their quarterback retires and the franchise falls apart. Instead the Packers did what the 49ers of the 80's did which was trade a second and fourth round picks to acquire Steve Young. The 49ers had a nice transition from Montana to Young where they enjoyed great success from 1981-1998where they were the premiere team of the NFL.
All in all this is why the Packers are a great organization. Unlike the Seahawks who didn't draft replacements for Walter Jones, Matt Hasselbeck or Shaun Alexander the Packers drafted Rodgers. The Packers had a rough 2008 season but that was one season and now they are World Champions. Just remember Seahawks fans the Packers are mostly a roster of draft picks and the guy who did the drafting for the Packers is current Seahawks general manager John Schneider. The Seahawks are in good hands with Schneider unlike Tim Ruskell who appeared clueless when it comes to the draft. This Super Bowl win was also good for the NFL. Shows why the NFL is the best sport that a small city like Green Bay can hoist it's fourth Super Bowl Championship is incredible. In baseball they would have already moved same goes for the NBA but in the NFL they are one of the better franchises. Well this Super Bowl wraps up a great NFL season. Hopefully in September we'll have a season but we shall see. I'll continue to post about the labor stuff in the offseason so don't worry. What a great season and congrats to the Green Bay Packers on winning the Super Bowl!