Rodgers, Packers defeat Steelers in Super
CBSSports.com wire reports|
Feb. 6, 2011
Texas -- Aaron Rodgers at long last casts his own shadow. All it
took was a Super Bowl victory for the Green Bay Packers. Capping one
of the greatest postseasons for any quarterback, Rodgers led the
Pack to their first NFL championship in 14 years Sunday, 31-25
against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They reclaimed the Vince Lombardi
Trophy, named for their legendary coach who won the first two Super
Bowls and is making his own star turn in New York in the play named
Rodgers, the game's MVP, thrilled his
legion of Cheesehead 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 Favre 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," veteran
receiver Donald Driver said. "Aaron's proved that he's one of the
best, if not the best, quarterback in this game today."
You could say it means this: Forget Lombardi on Broadway, Green Bay
has the newest Super Bowl hit.
Packers managed to overcome key injuries, building a 21-3 lead, then
hung on to become only the 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," Jennings said, who noted injuries to
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."
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 Cowboys great Roger Staubach,
walked through a line of green and gold, and 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."
took the Packers to two late-season victories just to make the
playoffs as a wild card. Then he guided them to wins at
Philadelphia, Atlanta and archrival Chicago before his biggest
achievement -- against a Pittsburgh team ranked second in defense.
They barely survived a sensational rally by the Steelers, who still
own the most Super Bowl rings -- six in eight tries. But Pittsburgh
failed to get its third championship in six years, despite several
valiant efforts by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger's
season began with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's
personal conduct policy. It ended with Roethlisberger standing on
the sideline, his head down, hands on his hips, feeling something he
never experienced: defeat in a Super Bowl.
feel like I let the city of Pittsburgh down, the fans, my coaches
and my teammates and it's not a good feeling," said Roethlisberger,
who later buried his head in a towel and wept.
Not even a decidedly black-and-gold crowd, with Terrible Towels
swirling throughout the $1.2 billion stadium, could make a
difference for the mistake-prone Steelers, who had three turnovers
to none for Green Bay. Their two biggest defensive stars --
Defensive Player of the Year safety Troy Polamalu and outside
linebacker James Harrison -- were virtually invisible. The offense
didn't seem to miss outstanding rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, who
was out with an ankle injury, but Roethlisberger only occasionally
made key plays until the second half.
biggest plays were left to Rodgers, Nick Collins with a 37-yard
interception return for a TD, Jennings, Nelson, and the rest of the
guys in green and gold. In the end, they gave coach Mike McCarthy
his first Super Bowl victory against the team he rooted for while
growing up in Pittsburgh. Besides Lombardi, Mike Holmgren won a
title in 1997 with Favre.
McCarthy was so
certain of victory he fitted the players for championship rings on
Saturday night -- a move sure to go down in Super Bowl lore.
"That was just a vote of confidence for us," Woodson said. "Get
fitted for your ring. I don't know when we'll get them, but it'll
Woodson saw the Steelers, who rallied from
a 21-7 halftime hole against Baltimore 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 when he completely fooled Jarrett Bush.
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, and
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 2-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
"You play to be world champions," Matthews said,
"and that's what we are today."
The game capped
an interesting weather week in Dallas for the teams and fans alike.
Snow and ice caused traffic snarls, canceled flights and caused
injuries to six people when it fell from the roof of the stadium.
Sunny skies and milder temperatures returned Sunday, but issues
arose with seats at the game.
A total of 1,250
temporary seats were considered unsafe hours before kickoff. Even
while the teams were warming up on the field, workers were trying to
fix the problems -- many involving seats carrying pricetags of $800
About 400 people with tickets couldn't
be seated inside the stadium and the league offered refunds of
triple the ticket price.
At least the Packers
and Steelers put on a terrific show after Christina Aguilera botched
the lyrics to the national anthem.
Nelson in stride with a long pass on Green Bay's first series, but
the wideout let it slide through his hands. The Pack had discovered
something, though, and went back to that play for the first
touchdown. Nelson beat William Gay and held on for a 7-0 lead; the
Packers have scored first in all five Super Bowl appearances.
Just 24 seconds later, they were ahead by 14. Throwing from his end
zone, Roethlisberger's arm was 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.
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
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."