Nelson makes most of opportunities in Super Bowl
By MARK CONCANNON
Feb. 6, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Since the beginning of the season, Jordy Nelson has been telling anyone who listen about the number of play makers on the Green Bay Packers' wide receiving corps. But spreading the wealth in the passing game can leave a receiver with fewer catches than he likes.
"It's all about opportunities," Nelson said. "We've said this from day one. We have a great receiving corps here. We knew going into this year it was going to be difficult with the amount of catches that people look at.
"Our motto has been you make the most of your opportunities. If it's one, you better make the catch and do something with it. If it's 10, 15, you better make the plays."
Nelson didn't catch 10 or 15 in the biggest game of his career Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium. But he almost did.
Nelson hauled in nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown helping Green Bay defeat Pittsburgh 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV at Arlington, Texas. The nine catches were a career high. The 140 yards? A Packers Super Bowl record, breaking Max McGee's mark set in the very first Super Bowl.
"At this position, you just run your route every time to get open and then it's Aaron's job to figure out who's open and get him the ball," Nelson said, referring to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. "That's why he's the quarterback and he is an elite quarterback, and he's great at it."
Nelson says anytime the Packers offense takes the field, he feels as though it's almost an unfair fight.
"We think there aren't any DBs out there that can match up with us one on one, let alone four on four or five on five," Nelson said. "I just know how defenses are made. It is just a mismatch all the way around the board."
Nelson gave the Packers the early lead, catching a 29-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers late in the first quarter. It was a good example of the Packers' offensive communication skills, something that was stressed for the past two weeks in preparation for the Steelers' blitz packages, the importance of Rodgers and his receivers being on the same wavelength.
"It was actually a screen play, Nelson said. "I lined up; the guy bumped me and came up to press. Aaron gave me a signal, kind of alert me -- he didn't change the route; it was more of an alert, saying I'm going to look at you and if you beat him I'm gonna throw it. Obviously, that changed our mindset. He threw me the ball, we were able to make a play and we were able to get a touchdown, (an) early lead and some momentum."
Nelson his receiving mates got some bad news at halftime when they learned that their veteran leader, Donald Driver, was injured and would not return. The pass catchers, who shared receptions all season, dedicated the second half to "the old man."
"We told Donald before we left this locker room at halftime: 'We feel bad for you, obviously, but you'll be walking out of this stadium with a ring on your finger,' " Nelson said.
Nelson and Greg Jennings helped make good on that promise.
Jennings scored his second touchdown, and Jennings and Nelson made critical catches late in the game when Green Bay was protecting a three-point lead.
"He's a leader on this team," Nelson said of Jennings. "He was voted captain. He makes plays. He's the guy. I look up to him a lot, and he's taught me a lot. He's teaching me every day. He's a play maker. He made plays; he made big plays."
Rodgers made plays, too, and was voted Most Valuable Player. Nelson says he feels fortunate to be part of a franchise that has such a tremendous quarterback tradition and says Green and Gold nation has enjoyed quite a ride recently with Brett Favre and Rodgers.
"They're both great quarterbacks," Nelson said. "Brett's had his legacy. I don't think Aaron's trying to beat it, match it, overdo it. Aaron's his own guy. I think Packer fans should just be glad that they'd be able to go from all those years with Brett to now all these years with Aaron. I don't think they need to compare them."
As recently as 2003, Nelson was a walk-on safety at Kansas State, where he worked his way to becoming an All-American wide receiver. While he worked on his family farm in Manhattan, Kan., Nelson would often fantasized of being a Super Bowl hero. But it is a long way from the fields of the American grain belt to center stage in football's biggest game.
"You dream about it," Nelson said. "I've probably watched every Super Bowl since I've been alive. It's something you look at, but you can't think, 'I'm gonna be a Super Bowl champ someday.'
"But, I mean, it started a long time ago, a long journey. I took it year by year, season by season, and just took the coaching, so you never know what can happen. And it happened."
It happened for Nelson on Sunday night. His catches in Super Bowl XLV will now take their place in Packers history alongside McGee's famous bobbling grabs in Super Bowl I.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," Nelson said. "It's something I'll have to look back on, obviously. ...
"Just being a part of it, being a name in here and getting that Lombardi Trophy, it's going to be a joyful time when we're driving down Lombardi Avenue to Lambeau with the trophy."