Super Bowl 2011 Preview And Prediction: Steelers Top Packers In Dramatic Finish

Jeffrey BoswellAnalyst IFebruary 3, 2011

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 21: James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers pumps up the crowd during the game against the Oakland Raiders on November 21, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay (-2½)

Super Bowl XLV pits the Steelers and Packers, two of the National Football Leagues most tradition laden teams, in a battle to determine the NFL's best team, or, according to the New York Jets and their boastful insistence, the NFL's second-best team.  Pittsburgh and Green Bay ranked 1-2 in points against, and their respective defenses are complemented by solid and at times explosive offenses.

"One thing is for sure," said Roethlisberger. "This game will be settled on the field, and not via Twitter.  Antonio Cromartie has replaced Chad Ochocinco as the clown prince of social networking.

I'm amused by Cromartie's tweets on the collective bargaining agreement and the impending lockout.  One would think his labor disputes would be confined to questions of paternity that take place in the delivery room.  If he continues impregnating women at his current pace, there'll be 140 characters in his brood.

"Frankly, I'm amazed that we're the underdogs. But I can relate. It's much like Roger Goodell's opinion of me—not the favorite.  So Roger says not one teammate came to my defense when he was investigating me.  Can that be true?  If it is, then I guess I now know what it's like to be on the receiving end of a 'cock-eyed' glance.  Come on. Somebody's got to have my back.  If not a teammate, then the guy guarding the bathroom door.  No one can say I haven't lived a colorful life—I've been blackballed and blueballed."

"But you know me, I love talking about the spread. Or used to.  As you know, I've reformed, from hard-partying a-hole to consummate teammate.  Heck, even Troy Polamalu can look me in the eye now.  And my new-found good buddy Terry Bradshaw just sent me a family photo, and I conveniently cut Terry out of the photo, leaving only his two daughters.  They're big fans of mine—I'm an even bigger fan of theirs."

The Packers arrive as the NFC's No. 6 seed, having vanquished the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears, the conference's top three seeds, to reach Cowboys Stadium.  Aaron Rodgers has led the way on offense, with six passing touchdowns and two rushing scores, while the Packers defense has forced eight turnovers, including two interceptions returned for scores.

"Even our nose tackle got in on the interception action," said Rodgers.  "B.J. Raji is deceptively fast, and can cover ground in other ways than by just laying on it.  And the B.J. Raji celebratory dance is sweeping the nation.  Hell, I even heard Roethlisberger and Brett Favre couldn't wait to come to Green Bay and volunteer for a 'B.J.' class."

"And speaking of Roethlisberger and Favre, it's interesting that the two quarterbacks I'm being measured against have found trouble because of their penises.  Me?  I'd simply rather be just hung, than 'hung in effigy.' There's only one chick I've ever been alone in a bathroom with. Her name is 'Angel Soft,' and unlike Big Ben, she is a roll model."

"But I understand that without a Super Bowl victory, I'll have no legacy to speak of. Favre won Super Bowl XXXI and collected three Most Valuable Player awards. Roethlisberger was the 2004 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and has two Super Bowl championships, among many other honors. I don't have a single award to my name. I've never been accused of 'reap.'"

What will be the keys to victory on Sunday?  Quarterback protection?  If the Super Bowl QBs were the statuesque (meaning as mobile as a statue) Brett Favre and Joe Flacco, then protection might be an issue.  However, Rodgers and Roethlisberger are two of the most elusive non black QBs in the game.

Sure, they will be sacked, but the game will be won by the QB who can make the most impactful plays on the run after escaping the rush.

The Steelers win the toss, and immediately march down the field, as Roethlisberger picks apart a Packers secondary that seems nervous and tight, just the way he likes them.  On third and goal from the six yard line, Roethlisberger, chased out of the pocket by Clay Matthews, finds Hines Ward for the touchdown, but not before complimenting Matthews on his hair, which smells of daffodils and mace.  It's Steelers 7-0 early in the first quarter, and head coach Mike McCarthy can only grumble, "What the hell's going on out here?!"

The Packers, unlike Favre, respond quickly, and are soon in Pittsburgh territory.  On second and ten from the Steeler 35, Rodgers improbably avoids a Polamalu blitz, ducks under James Harrison's helmet, frees himself from the clutches of Brett Keisel's beard, and finds Greg Jennings wide open across the middle.  Jennings strolls in for the score, and the game is tied.

The defenses settle down, and halftime arrives with the Steelers clinging to a 13-10 lead. As the teams head to their locker rooms, an anticipatory buzz permeates the stadium, although it's not clear whether it's real or piped in for the arrival of the Black Eyed Peas. But before the BEPs take the field, their opening act, the "PEDs," fronted by Texans linebacker Brian Cushing, warms up the apathetic crowd with their signature hit "Supplement Funkadelic," which sounds curiously like a public service announcement mandated by the terms of a suspension.

The Peas hit the stage, and, like all of the other Super Bowl halftime acts before them, they don't disappoint.  Why?  Because all the acts are anticlimactic.  But, nevertheless, the Peas try.  They break into an updated version of "Boom Boom Pow," the lyrics of which chronicle big hitting Steeler linebacker Harrison's trials with illegal hits this year.

Then, Rashard Mendenhall joins the BEP's to belt out the lyrics to "Dry Humps," then mounts  Next, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith lip syncs along in a Black Eyed Plea to Roger Goodell about the 2011 season with 'Let's Get it Started.'  With the crowd in a mild state of entertainment, Terrell Owens assumes the mike, and, with the BEPs backing him, kills with "Imma Byatch."  Finally, the Peas exit to the biggest cheers of the night when they announce that Motörhead will headline the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show next year in Indianapolis.

With the field cleared of all non-essentials, the game resumes, and after Rodgers sneaks it in for a touchdown, Green Bay leads 24-20 with 2:06 remaining. 

Cameras catch a calm Roethlisberger joking with tight end Heath Miller that "Sebastian Janikowski was good at sneaking it in, too."  Big Ben rallies his troops, and gives a rousing sideline speech in which he urges everyone except Mendenhall to "get on his back."

The Steelers advance into Packers territory, and, with 26 seconds left, Roethlisberger connects with Emmanuel Sanders, open after Charles Woodson slips, for the game winning score.

Steelers win, 27-24. Back in Pittsburgh, Steelers fans take to the street in droves, and give Egyptian protesters a lesson in mob mentality