Packers overcome adversity, win Super Bowl XLV
By MARK CONCANNON
Feb. 6, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl, the same way they have triumphed all season, overcoming adversity.
With both their offensive and defensive spiritual leaders sidelined, Green Bay once again was victorious despite key injuries and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday.
"That's the type of team this is," wide receiver James Jones said. "We overcame adversity all year. When it slapped us in the face again today, we all looked at each other and you know we've been there before. People say the Steelers had more experience, but we've been through more."
The Steelers outgained the Packers by 49 yards, but Green Bay's defense made stops when it had to, especially in the final minute. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns and was named MVP. He also led a Packers offense that had no turnovers in the game.
"It's a dream come true," Rodgers said. "It's what I dreamt about as a little kid watching Joe Montana and Steve Young, and we just won the Super Bowl."
"It's a great feeling," said offensive tackle Chad Clifton, who got to hoist the Lombardi Trophy after 11 seasons in Green Bay. "It's the pinnacle."
The Steelers went three and out on their first possession. Linebacker Frank Zombo, playing in his first game after missing six weeks because of a knee injury, started for the injured Erik Walden and stopped Rashard Mendenhall for a 4-yard loss on second-and-6.
"Erik went down, and I knew I had to step up," said Zombo.
The Packers narrowly avoided disaster when Sam Shields ran into Tramon Williams causing a fumble on the ensuing punt return, but Green Bay recovered at its own 21.
Rodgers completed a third-down pass to Donald Driver for a 24-yard gain to the Green Bay 46 on the Packers' first possession. But the drive stalled when Rodgers overshot Jordy Nelson, who had gotten behind two Pittsburgh defenders and was inside the 10-yard line.
The Packers got on the board first late in the opening period. On thrd-and-1, Rodgers play-faked and hit Nelson, who made a nice catch in the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown, completing a nine-play, 80-yard drive that took up 4:33. Green Bay, which has scored first in all five of its Super Bowls, took a 7-0 lead with just under four minutes left in the quarter. Nelson had a career high nine catches for a Packers Super Bowl record 140 yards and that touchdown.
"I tried as hard as possible to forget that it was a Super Bowl and just treat it as a normal game," Nelson said. "It's hard for you guys to believe that but you have to. I tried to stay relaxed as much as possible and make plays like normal.
On the next play from scrimmage, Ben Roethlisberger was hit by Howard Green as he threw deep to Mike Wallace. The ball was underthrown, and Nick Collins intercepted for Green Bay and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown, the 13th TD interception return in Super Bowl history. The Packers' second TD in 24 seconds made it 14-0.
"I just saw the ball in the air," Collins said. "I know those easy interceptions are not easy, you kinda tend to relax, but I made sure I caught the ball and was able to make a couple moves to get in the end zone."
Pittsburgh finally moved into Packers territory on the next drive. A third-down scramble by Roethlisberger gained 18 yards and gave the Steelers a first down at the Green Bay 32. Roethlisberger hit Emmanuel Sander for 13 yards on 3rd-and-13 to pick up a first down at the 22. But the drive stalled and Shaun Suisham kicked a 33-yard field goal, and it was 14-3 with 11:08 left in the first half.
Midway through the second quarter, veteran Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, playing in his first Super Bowl after spending 12 seasons in Green Bay, was taken to the locker room for X-rays on his ankle. Driver, one of the club's longtime leaders, did not return. Everyone on both sides realized Driver's history. Driver said Pittsburgh's James Harrison, a fierce competitor in a high stakes game, showed him some compassion.
"I told Harrison he gave me a good shot," Driver said. "He didn't know I was hurt and said