ARLINGTON, Texas–Brett Who?
Emerging from the shadow of long-time Packer great Brett Favre, Aaron Rogers threw for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns on 24/39 passing as the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington Sunday night before more than 103,000 people in attendance. The win was the Packers fourth Super Bowl victory in five tries and was the franchise’s first win on the grand stage since the 1996 season.
Rogers’ favorite target on the night was wide reciever Jordy Nelson, who had 140 yards on 9 receptions and finished with 1 touchdown.
“This is a great group of men we put together here,” Rogers said during the trophy presentation in the middle of the field after the game. “There’s a lot of character here and we’ve been through a lot together.”
The Packers, who had 338 yards overall in total offense, never trailed but had to fight off a spirited rally by the Steelers, who went from trailing 21-3 just before halftime to cutting the Packers lead to 28-25 on a Mike Wallace 25 yard touchdown reception with 7:34 left in the fourth quarter.
Rogers responded by leading the Packers down the field and inside the Steeler 10-yard line before they settled for a field goal. Pittsburgh took over at their own own 13 yard line after an unsportsman-like conduct penalty on a play that coincided with the 2-minute warning but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was unable to lead the Steelers any further than their own 33-yard line and his fourth-and-5 incompletion to Wallace with :49 remaining sealed the Steelers’ second Super Bowl defeat. The Steelers are now 6-2 all-time in the event.
“We don’t grade on the curve and there are no moral victories,” Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin said in an interview with Fox Sports after the game. “There were a lot of areas that could have swung the balance [in our favor].”
One such area was turnovers. The Steelers lost the turnover battle 3-0, which negated the fact that they outgained the Packers by 49 yards (387-338) and had 4 more first downs (19-15) and two of their giveaways came at crucial points in the game. Having just allowed the Packers to score the game’s first touchdown 24 seconds earlier, Roethlisberger was hurried on a pass and his short aimed throw was intercepted by Packer defensive back Nick Collins, who ran back the turnover 37 yards by weaving through a crowd and dove over the plane of the end zone between two defenders to help Green Bay make the score 14-0 with 3:20 remaining in the first quarter.
Later on the first play of the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh was down just 21-17 and had great field position near the Packer 40-yard line following a short punt as well as having momentum gained from having scored 14 straight points. However, on second-and-2 from the Green Bay 33-yard line, Green Bay defender Clay Matthews laid his helmet on the ball and caused a fumble in the backfield on a run by running back Rashard Mendenhall and it was recovered by the Packer defender Desmond Bishop at the 38-yard line. Later, Rogers converted this into an 8 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Jennings.
“We won because of the great resolve of our team,” said Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy during the trophy presentation.
Both teams sustained many key injuries (particularly in the second quarter) and chief among them were the injuries to Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson, who left with a shoulder injury, as well as veteran wide receiver Donald Driver. Never the less, the Packers kept their poise, even as the Steelers looked to once again pull out a close postseason game late.
“We’ve been a team that’s overcome adversity all year,” said Jennings, who had 4 receptions for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns. “Our head captain [Woodson] went down and the lockerroom was emotional [because of it]. Then our number one receiver goes down and [we became more emotional] but we found a way to exert our emotions out here on the field.”
Roethlisberger had 263 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the loss, his first defeat in three Super Bowls as the Steelers starting quarterback. Mendenhall had 63 yards on 14 carries while Wallace had 9 receptions for 89 yards. Hines Ward had 78 yards receiving on 7 catches.
The win makes the Packers the fifth different team to win the championship in the last five years and third from the NFC in the last four seasons. The team has now won Super Bowls in 1966-67 (Super Bowls I and II) and in the 1996 postseason (XXXI) in addition to this one.
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The UIL Class 4A Division II State Championship Game (at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington); La Marque-Aledo