Super Bowl XLV Recap

So much is going on this Super Bowl Sunday as we play Super Bowl XLV.

Today is also the 100th birthday of President Ronald Reagan, who among many other accomplishments played the Gipper, football coach Knute Rockne.

While President 40 will be given a tribute before the game, President 44 Barack Obama will be interviewed by Bill O’Reily as part of the pregame festivities.

I will have much more to say about President Reagan on Monday and the Obama-O’Reilly interview later in the week. Today is not about politics. It is a celebration of football.

Before getting to the game, congratulations to the newest inductees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Shannon Sharpe, Richard Dent, Ed Sabol, Chris Hanburger, and Les Richter are now Hall of Famers.

Deion Sanders absolutely deserved to get in. He might be the greatest lockdown corner of all time.

Thankfully Ed Sabol got in. It would have been a travesty had he been denied. NFL Films is the NFL, period, exclamation point. He is every bit as important to the game as anyone else in the hall. Without him, we would not even know about many of the senior nominees.

Regarding senior nominees Hanburger and Richter, I do not know enough about them. I look forward to learning.

Marshall Faulk was considered a no-brainer, and I will probably get pilloried for this, but I would make a case for Curtis Martin. Faulk was a great player, but the Greatest Show on Turf with Kurt Warner and all of those receivers, led by mad scientist Mike Martz, gave Faulk the bump Martin never had. The top 3 running backs in yards are all in, and Martin was # 4. # 5 was Jerome Bettis, who also just missed the final cut.

I have nothing against Richard Dent, but over Charles Haley? Really? Will the Lord of the Rings one day not get screwed? 5 Super Bowls has to count for something. I am mystified by Haley being excluded.

As for Shannon Sharpe, this one is a stunner. Yes he is the best tight end of all time, and he has 3 rings. Yet to put him ahead of Cris Carter, Tim Brown, and Andre Reed boggles my mind. I figured at least one of those guys would get in. They should go in order, which means that until Carter gets in, Brown and Reed will be denied.

Another stunning omission was Willie Roaf, one of the best tackles of all time. He made 11 Pro Bowls in 13 years and was named to the all decade team in the 1990s and the 2000s. He absolutely must get in soon.

I also completely fail to understand how Paul Tagliabue got denied again.

Anyway, the debate can rage on starting Monday. Today is Super Bowl Sunday.

For those of you interested in the halftime show, the commercials, or the (lack of) cheerleaders, go somewhere else. I ban people from my home unless they are there to actually watch the game. This is not about the fluff. This is about football.

Super Bowl XLV (45) is upon us.
With Vince Lombardi and Art Rooney in heaven, a pair of the most storied NFL franchises will compete against each other. The Packers were the team of the 1960s, winning 5 NFL Championships including 2 Super Bowls. The Steelers of the 1970s won 4 Super Bowls. Since then each of these teams faded in the 1980s, but came back. In the 1990s the Packers won one Super Bowl and lost one. The Steelers lost one in 1995, then won it in 2005 and 2008.

Mike McCarthy is coaching in his first Super Bowl while Mike Tomlin is trying to become the youngest head coach to win it twice. Defensive Coordinators Dick Lebeau and Dom Capers each are given some credit for the invention of the Zone Blitz defense that turned Pittsburgh into Blitzburgh. Capers is now with Green Bay. Ben Roethlisberger is playing in his 3rd Super Bowl in 6 years. He began the year under controversy but is seeking redemption. Aaron Rodgers is publicly classy but any man in his position would be seeking vindication to escape the shadow his Brett Favre left. The Steelers are seeking a record 7th Super Bowl victory. Their 8th appearance ties that record.

Are you ready for some football!

Superbowl XLV is here! Green Bay Packers vs Pittsburgh Steelers!

Let’s get it on!


Green Bay Packers vs Pittsburgh Steelers–In a major development, Steelers center Maurice Pouncey was officially put on injured reserve. I genuinely believe this gives the edge to the Packers. For those thinking a center is not a big deal, remember the thrashing the Buccaneers defense gave to the Raiders offense when they lost their starting center to a mental illness the weekend of the game. The quarterback-center exchange cost the Steelers a fumble leading to a safety in the AFC Title Game. The Pouncey loss is big.

Prediction: They are both known for defense, but the offenses will still have fun. Packers 34, Steelers 31

Green Bay Packers vs Pittsburgh Steelers–The Steelers won the coin tossed into the air by Deion Sanders, and Antonio Brown returned the opening kickoff 37 yards to the Pittsburgh 34. Yet Pittsburgh went 3 and out and punted. Green Bay avoided disaster when Tremon Williams ran into his own man while fielding the punt. Yet The Packers recovered their own fumble to begin at their own 21.

On 3rd and 9 Aaron Rodgers hit Donald Driver for 24 yards. On 3rd and 7 Rodgers went deep and it went right through the hands of a diving Jordy Nelson as the Packers punted a touchback. Rashaard Mendenhall ripped off gains of 15 and 9 yards. After a false start, Ben Roethlisberger fired incomplete on 3rd and 2. Pittsburgh punted and the Packers took over at their own 20.

On 3rd and inches Starks bounced off his own man in the backfield and got to the outside for a 7 yard gain. Rodgers hit Nelson for 9. Starks got the yard. Rodgers then hit Nelson for 14 just before being pulled down. From the Pittsburgh 38, Starks ran up the middle for 7. On 3rd and 1, Rodgers went to Nelson for the 29 yard touchdown to complete the 80 yard drive as the Packers struck first to lead 7-0 with 4 minutes left in the opening quarter.

An illegal block on the ensuing kickoff had the Steelers starting at their own 7. Big Ben went deep just before getting leveled. Nick Collins intercepted the pass, wove through traffic, and dove to the end zone for a 37 yard interception return. Just like that, the Packers led 14-0. An excessive celebration penalty against the Packers had them kicking off from their own 15. The Steelers began at their own 39. On 3rd and 9 from just shy of midfield, Big Ben scrambled for 18 as the opening quarter ended.

The second quarter saw the Steelers quickly facing 3rd and 12 at the Green Bay 35. A 13 yard completion to Emanuel Sanders kept the drive going. On 3rd and 7 from the 19, a completion to Mike Wallace set up 4th and 3. Mike Tomlin brought in Sean Suisham to kick the 33 yard field goal as the Steelers were on the board down 14-3 with 11 minutes left in the half. The Steelers had the ball for 12 plays and 7 minutes, yet did not crack the end zone.

The Packers took over at their own 25. On 3rd and 5 Rodgers completed a 4 yard pass, another reason many people despise the West Coast Offense. The concept of throwing past the marker is is an odd concept for some as Green Bay punted again. Pittsburgh took over at their own 22 and offensive holdng pushed them back to the 12. On 1st and 20 Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace for 16. Mewelde Moore ran for 8 yards and a 1st down. Roethlisberger scrambled for 6 more. On 3rd and 6 Big Ben fired over the middle to Antwon Randle-El for 13 to the Green Bay 48. Ben fired a laser over the middle but Jared Bush ripped it out of the receiver’s hands for Roethlisberger’s 2nd interception as the Packers took over at their own 47.

A 17 yard completion from Rodgers to Nelson had the Packers at the Pittsburgh 33.  Starks gained 12. From the Pittsburgh 21, Rodgers fired over the middle to Greg Jennings. Jennings got nailed by Troy Palomalu but somehow held on to the ball for the touchdown as the Packers led 21-3 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half.

The Steelers took over at their own 23. Big Ben went deep to Antwon Randle-El for a 37 yard gain at the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and 10 Big Ben fired complete to Hines Ward for 14. Roethlisberger found Ward for 13 more to set up 1st and goal at the 7. Roethlisberger then rolled around, and fired to the corner of the end zone as Ward caught the touchdown as the Steelers got to within 21-10 with 39 seconds left in the half. From the Green Bay 20, Mike McCarthy took no chances as one run ended the half.

The Packers took over to start the second half at their own 20 as Palm Oliver, who is hot, announced that Charles Woodson suffered an injured collarbone in the first half and would not return. Emanuel Sanders was out for Pittsburgh with a foot injury. Penalties put the Packers in a hole and a 3rd and 5 pass to James Jones was dropped. Jones had open field ahead of him, and instead the Packers punted. A facemask on Green Bay on the return had the Steelers starting at midfield.

Mendenhall ran outside for 17 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Green Bay 24, Redmonds took a handoff off tackle 15 yards. Mendenhall then raced straight up the middle as the Steelers were right back in it. Mike Tomlin wisely decided against the 2 point conversion as the Steelers got within 21-17 only 4 1/2 minutes into the second half.

Green Bay took over at their own 18. On 2nd and 7 Rodgers again fired to Nelson, who again dropped a pass that was well thrown. James Harrison sacked Rodgers as the first sack of the game ended the drive. The Steelers took over at their own 39. On 3rd and 1 Roethlisberger had to burn a timeout. Mendenhall was trapped in the backfield but he again bounced to the outside for the 1st down at the Green  Bay 44. After overthrowing Mike Wallace on the deep ball, Big Ben found Hines Ward over the middle for 15 yards. Roethlisberger’s next pass was batted in the air by Clay Matthews, who almost intercepted it. On 3rd and 13 Big Ben got Zomboed as the sack by Zombo ended the drive. Mike Tomlin took a big risk by bringing Suisham for a 52 yard field goal. A miss from 51 last year became the turing point in that Super Bowl. Suisham missed by a country mile golf slice wide left as the Packers took over at their own 42.

The Packers had only 17 yards of offense and 30 penalty yards in the quarter, but Rodgers quickly found Nelson for 18 yards. On 3rd and 8 Pittsburgh took a timeout on defense as the Steelers only had one left. Rodgers fired incomplete and Mike McCarthy did not decide to go for it or kick a 56 yard field goal. A good punt had the Steelers at their own 12. Green Bay went 3 and out as a 3rd and 10 pass looked like a reception before the ball was ripped out of the receiver’s hands. McCarthy challenged the incompletion call unsuccessfully and the Packers lost a timeout and punted. A penalty on Green Bay led to a rekick. A bad punt had the Steelers starting at the Green Bay 41.

Rashaard Mendenhall ran outside for 8 yards as the third quarter ended. On the opening play of the fourth quarter Mendenhall got the carry again. This time the shoulder of Clay Matthews on the ball dislodged it as the 3rd Pittsburgh turnover had the Packers starting at their own 45. On 3rd and 7 Rodgers hit Nelson, who made a diving catch on a low throw for a 12 yard gain. On the next play Jordy Nelson got the Jeremy Stevens award for another dropped pass of a well thrown ball. Stevens played for Seattle against Pittsburgh in that Super Bowl.

On 3rd and 10 from the Pittsburgh 40 on the next play, Nelson redeemed himself as a pass over the middle from Rodgers went for a 38 yard gain to set up 1st and goal at the 2. Since Green Bay runs the West Coast Offense, running the ball does not exist. Rodgers was sacked for a 6 yard loss. Yet on the next play Rodgers hit Jennings for the touchdown as the Packers had some breathing room with a 28-17 lead with a full 12 minutes left in regulation.

The Steelers took over at their own 34. Roethlisberger hit Spaeth for 9 and Wallace for 11. A slant pass to Wallace went for 14 more. From the Green Bay 32, offensive holding moved Pittsburgh back. On 2nd and 18, a pass to Hines Ward set up 3rd and 3 from the 25. Big Ben may not be Jewish but that did not stop him from going deep to Wallace for the touchdown. The loss of Woodson was felt deeply as Tomlin decided on the 2 point conversion. Big Ben appeared to go up the middle on the option before pitching it out to Randle-El, who shook a tackle and got in the end zone. With 7 1/2 minutes left in the game, the Steelers were only down 28-25.

The Packers took over at their own 25 and Rodgers was sacked. On 3rd and 10 Rodgers went deep over the middle to Jennings for a 31 yard gain. At that point the Packers had thrown the ball 38 times and run it only 9 times. Starks ran it for 14 yards to the Pittsburgh 30. Rodgers found Jones for 21 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 8. Again, the Packers run the West Coast Offense which means they would not run the ball. A pair of short passes set up 3rd and goal at the 5. Rodgers went to the corner for Nelson. It bounced off of his fingertips, although it was overthrown. Mason Crosby kicked the 23 yard field goal. The Packers led 31-25 with 2:09 to play The Packers led 31-25 with 2:09 to play after the 10 play, 70 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive.. The last time the Steelers were in this position they shocked Arizona for a Super Bowl win in the waning moments.

A line drive kickoff resulted in the Steelers at the 2 minute warning committing a critical personal foul on the return. With only one timeout left, Pittsburgh started at their own 13. 87 yards was the difference between who would win it all. Big Ben hit Heath Miller for 15 followed by a 4 yard pass that had the clock moving. Big Ben avoided a sack and fired incomplete to set up 3rd and 5 with one minute left. Roethlisberger went deep again incomplete as it all came down to 4th and 5. Roethlisberger fired again and the pass was broken up by Tremon Williams as all of Wisconsin erupted. With 49 seconds left Rodgers took a knee. Another knee with 15 seconds left as everybody on Green Bay mobbed Rodgers.

There were no cheerleaders. The commercials were awful, except for one funny commercial where a blonde got hit in the head with a soda can. Yet the game is the thing, and once again the NFL ended the season with a fine football game. The Steelers were classy in defeat and may still become a dynasty, but today is about the Packers. Aaron Rodgers was named the MVP of the game, and Charles Woodson kept his promise to go to the White House. Carolina is now on the clock as the Draft is 2 months and the 2011 kickoff is 7 months away. I will not even mention the L-word. There will be football in 2011. Let’s just enjoy the fact that the NFL is as good as it has ever been. The Lombardi Trophy has come home to Titletown. 31-25 Packers


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