Thriller in Dallas
Green Bay Packers defeated Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV
It’s all over.
The 2010-11 NFL season is completed and the Green Bay Packers are world champions.
In a microcosm of their regular season, the Packers passed the ball gracefully, overcame injuries and forced interceptions en route to a 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV in Dallas.
As anticipated, the Packers won a close, hard-fought battle. The Packers never trailed during the entire game, but, with the Steelers breathing down their neck and coming on strong in the second half, Super Bowl XLV was a thrilling end to what has been one of the most entertaining NFL seasons in recent memory. It was the classic that everyone hoped it would be.
After a slow start, the biggest game of the year exploded into a scoring frenzy at the end of the first quarter, leaving fans on the edges of their seats.
Green Bay took the ball on their second possession and marched down the field, utilizing short passing plays to a diverse range of receivers before Aaron Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for a 29-yard touchdown to open up the scoring.
Pittsburgh shot themselves in the foot as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception to Packers pro-bowl safety Nick Collins on the Steelers first play of their next possession. Collins ran the pick back for a touchdown.
After over 11 minutes of scoreless football, the Packers needed only two consecutive plays to amass a 14-point lead.
Pittsburgh did put points on the board on their next possession, with a field goal by Sean Suisham.
After holding the Packers to a three and out on their next possession, it appeared that Pittsburgh had a chance to gain some ground. But, the hearts of Steelers fans sank as Roethlisberger threw his second interception of the game, this one to Jerrod Bush.
The Packers, with the momentum fully in their favour, gashed the Steelers defence on a four play drive that culminated in a 21-yard touchdown pass to star receiver Greg Jennings, putting the Packers up 21-3 with two minutes 31 seconds to go in the first half.
Super Bowl XLV was quickly looking like a blowout.
The media had been talking for two weeks about Pittsburgh’s wealth of Super Bowl experience coming in. And down 21-3, when most teams would get demoralized, the Steelers calmly started to mount a comeback.
On their first play after receiving the ball, Roethlisberger hit Antwaan Randle El for a 37-yard strike that set the tone for a speedy 77-yard drive that ended in a touchdown pass to Hines Ward. Adding injury to insult, during the drive the Packers lost their team leader, cornerback Charles Woodson, for the remainder of the game with a broken collarbone.
A game that looked like a blowout one minute quickly turned around, and after losing veterans Donald Driver and Woodson for the game and giving up a touchdown, the momentum appeared to have swung the Steelers’ way.
After a lacklustre halftime show that made Carillon news writer Ed Kapp “lose his faith in society,” everything appeared to be unraveling for Green Bay.
On their opening possession of the second half, wide receiver James Jones dropped a sure touchdown pass, leading to a Packer three-and-out.
Pittsburgh responded with a confident five-play drive that was capped off by an eight-yard Reshard Mendenhall touchdown run, and just over five minutes after Green Bay appeared to have the game by the horns, their 17-point lead was slimmed down to only four.
The game was on.
The rest of the third quarter saw both teams clashing back and forth for field position while the clock dwindled down, and tension began to mount as the teams entered the final quarter of football for the year.
The fourth quarter started with a bang as Green Bay star Clay Mathews forced a fumble deep in Green Bay territory to thwart a promising Pittsburgh drive.
Rodgers capitalized on the Pittsburgh turnover with a touchdown pass to Jennings. It was a drive that ate up some clock and increased the Packers’ lead to 11.
Pittsburgh, unfazed by the deficit, raced down the field and scored a quick touchdown of their own on a series of gashing passes, capped off by a 25-yard touchdown strike to Mike Wallace and a successful two-point conversion that trimmed Green Bay’s lead to only three.
After Green Bay scored a field goal to increase the lead to six, the Steelers were left with just under two minutes to march down the field and score a touchdown to win the game. It was a scenario Pittsburgh faced in Super Bowl XLIII, a game they ended up winning.
Chills coursed through the arena as the whole world waited to see if Roethlisberger could do it again. But it was not meant to be. After completing two passes to Ward, Roethlisbeger threw three straight incompletions, turning the ball over on downs and cementing the win for the Packers.
Although the Packers never trailed the entire game, the Steelers were nipping at their heels the entire time in one of the best games of the year.
With the cameras flashing, and the world watching, the game’s most valuable player Aaron Rodgers dissected the Steelers’ defence all game long with a 300-yard passing performance that saw him throw three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Rodgers, who finished the playoffs with a Super Bowl Championship, an MVP award, and over 1,000 passing yards, finally appears to have stepped out of the shadow cast by Green Bay legend Brett Favre.
“This is the end of an amazing journey,” Rodgers commented after the game. “I’m just so blessed to be in this position, with a great organization behind me and incredible teammates to work with. There is so much character in that locker room. I hope this isn‘t the end, and I hope we get back here, but, I’m going to enjoy this one.”
While Rodgers did take home the MVP award, he was hardly the sole factor in the Packers tight victory. Both teams came to play and both played exactly as advertised, for better or for worse.
Super Bowl XLV lived up to the hype.