Gregorâ€™s Packer Analysis
Super Bowl Recap
A 21-3 first half lead was cut to 3 points in the second half, but the Packers found a way to beat the Steelers 31-25 to win Super Bowl XLV. The game started slowly for both teams, but shortly after Jordy Nelson caught a 29 yard TD pass from Aaron Rodgers to put the Pack up 7-0, Nick Collins had a pick 6 to make it 14-0 in the first quarter. Howard Green hit Ben Roethlisbergerâ€™s arm, the ball floated, and Collins weaved through traffic 37 yards and dove across the goal line.
The Steelers got on the board with a 33 yard Shaun Suisham field goal to cap a drive highlighted by an 18 yard run by Roethlisberger after he was limping and looking like a run that far wasnâ€™t going to happen. It went to 21-3 when Greg Jennings scored his first Super Bowl touchdown with just over 2 minutes left in the first half. But unfortunately when Pittsburgh got the ball back, the Green Bay secondary was dropping faster than the temperature in Wisconsin on a clear winter night. Sam Shields, Charles Woodson and Nick Collins all went to the locker room before halftime when Pittsburgh had the ball. The Steelers found a way into the end zone with 1:45 left in the second quarter on an 8 yard TD catch by Hines Ward. The Packers ran out the clock and took a 21-10 lead into halftime.
Charles Woodson came out for the second half in sweats and a slingâ€”he broke his collarbone breaking up a pass in the second quarter. Nick Collins started the 3rd quarter, and Sam Shields came back late in the 3rd quarter. But the 18 point lead was down to 4 when Rashard Mendenhall ran it in from 8 yards out to cut the Packers lead to 21-17. Greg Jennings caught his second TD pass of the game with 11:57 left in the 4th quarter and it was 28-17. But Pittsburgh cut it to 28-23 on a TD pass to Mike Wallace, and Antwaun Randle El scored on a 2 point conversion to make it 28-25 with 7:16 left in the 4th quarter. The Packers took 5:27 off the clock on a 10 play, 70 yard drive ending with a Mason Crosby field goal to put Green Bay up 31-25.
Green Bay kicked off with 2:07 left, and the return took 8 seconds, meaning Pittsburgh, down to 1 timeout, wouldnâ€™t get another one for the 2 minute warning since the clock stopped at under 2:00 with the change of possession. The Steelers moved the ball, but on 4th down, Tramon Williams broke up the pass and the Packers ran out the clock to win the 4th Super Bowl and 13th NFL Championship in franchise history.
The passing stats were close (288 net yards for the Pack to 261 for the Steelers), but Pittsburgh out-rushed Green Bay 126 to 50 on 23 carriers to just 13 (including 2 kneeldowns by Rodgers). While James Starks had 11 carries for 52 yards (4.7 yards per carry), the Packers thought the best way to beat the Steelers was to show pass formations to spread the field, get the Steelers out of their base defense, and let Aaron Rodgers win the game. He did. Rodgers was 24 of 39 for 304 yards and 3 TDs, leading to a new car, a trip to Disneyworld, and being named Super Bowl MVP. His stats would have been better had James Jones not dropped a sure TD pass, Brett Swain not dropped a 3rd down pass that would have moved the chains, and Jordy Nelson not dropped two passes. His stats could have easily included 4 more catches, 100 more yards, and one more TD.
Which brings me to the obvious. Aaron Rodgers is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in NFL history. He might not lead the NFL in completion percentage (he does contend with drops and faces more than his share of bad weather). Even outdoors, his passes hit the receiver in the hands, in stride, most of the time. He ranks up there with Kurt Warner for accuracy. In domes where the conditions are perfect, the only thing that can stop him is sacks and drops. No secondary can slow him down. Just look at the playoff game in Atlanta and the Super Bowl in Dallas. This wasnâ€™t against the worst teams in the NFL, it was against the number one seed in the NFC, and the Steelers in the Super Bowl, the best defense in the NFL in points allowed. Rather than count the number of great throws, counting the ones off the mark is a lot shorter list.
The Lombardi Trophy returned home to Lambeau on Tuesday afternoon. And Mike McCarthy seems to think the Super Bowl victory celebration will become an annual event. While there will be changes, the Packers have a plan that seems to be working. And itâ€™s unlikely theyâ€™ll have to deal with the injuries in 2011 they had in 2010. It wonâ€™t be easy to make it back, but hey, theyâ€™ve got a better chance than most teams.