For a moment there, it felt as if the Pittsburgh Steelers were in position to manufacture another breathtaking comeback for the ages on one of the momentous national holidays in sports, a moment we crave the sentimental portraits, the wildest finish and clutch moments.
In the sense that America evidently worships football more than any other professional sport, when the Super Bowl every year normally accumulates enormous television ratings as families and friends gather collectively to watch the Super Bowl and gorge on the chips and dip, the Green Bay Packers can rightfully so be called America's Team.
This national perception now is that we are supposed to put forth our praise for traditionally a franchise known for triumphant victories in the past.
That's because the Packers were incredibly the most disciplined, famous and admirable franchise coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi, back in the age when Green Bay was the symbol of professional football, particularly with a win in the first ever Super Bowl.
Rather amazingly, it wasn't the greatest of performances when Christina Aguilera blundered a line as she shouted out the national anthem at the beginning of the Super Bowl in front of a sellout crowd at Cowboys Stadium or when the Black Eyed Peas hijacked the night during halftime for a 12-minute music spectacle that sounded awful.
This certainly wasn't the case for the Packers, far more superior against the Steelers on a night with implications, during an event that Green Bay had the national spotlight for the first time in 14 seasons. The confetti poured onto the field, the homogonous scoreboard above inside one of the world's largest palace indicated that the Packers were the champs and had won its first title in 14 years in the aftermath of a 31-25 win over the Steelers in a dramatic fashion in Super Bowl XLV.
By then, when the Packers celebrated and danced among an elated core after accomplishing the improbable, veteran wide receiver Donald Driver broke into tears, helpless with an injury that kept him sidelined for the rest of the game.
By then, the adversity was erased from their minds and happiness was installed for the Packers, doubted for much of the season, including the postseason.
By then, cornerback Charles Woodson, unable to move his collarbone, was teary-eyed on the sideline and watched his teammates come together as a cohesive team to astonishingly beat the experienced Steelers.
Then, unexpectedly, it happened where Green Bay proved to be the elites in the league this season with unforeseen star power and clearly the culture of talent.
It was, however, customary that the Packers fought off adversity and shrouded the complications of injuries in some way throughout the regular season, handling the obstacles with unflappability and poise and feeding from the non-believers' negativity to surprise the entire world by hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
The hardware, so beautifully, for a fervent, zealous football town crazed to wear cheesehead hats and root on the Packers with tailgate parties or even relax among others to watch the game, is returning to Titletown and sharing a place in Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood.
So, was this one of the greatest Super Bowls in Packers history?
Yes. Indeed, it was.
"It's a great day for the Green Bay Packers," coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. "The Lombardi Trophy is finally going back home."
On the finest night of football, the team from the smallest market in the league, known as the Packers, prevailed on the national stage and clinched their fourth Super Bowl title. For one, it was the nicest contest for Aaron Rodgers, once disregarded by many as a fitted successor for Brett Favre, now relatively the hallowed figure in the league and has emerged into a legend before our very eyes.
With the win, a 304-yard, three-touchdown performance, Rodgers was flawless and created his legacy.
In nearly every game this season, he wrote a shred of his legacy and uplifted rapidly into an iconic figure in a town that believes in him, even though he was considered a polarizing player at one point. Regardless of how poorly the Steelers played in a familiar setting, after having to endure the comparisons and doubts of ever reaching a climax as superb as Favre's, Rodgers is no more the subject of the Favre comparisons.
"I've never felt like there's been a monkey on my back. The [Green Bay Packers] organization stood behind me. Believed in me...I told [Packers executive] Ted [Thompson] back in 2005, he wouldn't be sorry with this pick. I told him in 2008 that I was going to repay their trust and get us this opportunity."
And if anything, he's the likable legend in the future to probably rise to new heights and beyond the bygone diva, a crafty, savvy and proficient quarterback with accuracy, mobility and an excellent throwing motion, many of his wonderful arts of being an elite passer. When it ended Sunday night with the Packers saying cheese, he extended his own agenda, very easily, for grabbing a spot in the company of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, the level of majesty even if he only has one Super Bowl ring.
The resiliency was the total makeover for the renovation of clearly the top franchise in the NFL, adjusting to tough situations without the contributions of primary stars nudged by injuries.
"This is just like our seasona lot of adversity," said Rodgers. "A lot of high-character guys stepped up and played huge roles."
Afterwards, inside the loser's locker room, Ben Roethlisberger sat somberly, wearing a despairing facial expression. In there, he reflected back on his lousy performance, and blamed himself for the glitches.
In this specific one, he was respectively a mere 25-of-40 for 263 yards with two touchdowns, but he threw two interceptions to destroy the Steelers drive and momentum. It stifled the Steelers from capturing triumph this time, but went in the favor of the Packers.
So, with deeper talent and better preparations, the Packers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy and took advantage of Roethlisberger's miscues. Certainly, one of his passes were intended to wide receiver Mike Wallace that bounced to Packers safety Nick Collins after Roethlisberger was struck hard by Packers nose tackle Howard Green.
The unprepared and costly mistakes by the Steelers allowed Collins to return the ball 36 yards for a touchdown, opening a 14-0 lead no time after scoring their first touchdown.
Known for his heroics and clutch finishes, Roethlisberger couldn't conduct an 87-yard drive for a game-winning touchdown to complete another mind-blowing, epic finish in a classic Super Bowl.
In the greatest event, on the brightest stage, he struggled unlike ever before and made foolish decisions with the ball.
Late in the final minutes, the Steelers managed to reach only their 33-yard line before they were forced into a fourth-down situation when he threw an incomplete pass to end Pittsburgh's remarkable pursuit for a third Super Bowl win in six seasons.
This time, instead, Rodgers celebrated in bliss, seized the moment and raised his arms skyward. That alone, removes the immeasurable drama of playing in the shadows of the legendary Favre. Just like that, he's not in the shadows, he's not under additional pressure to perform sharply and he's not expected to replicate Favre's style.
Of course, as we all know, if we follow history, Bart Starr came before Favre.
And with that, Rodgers came after Favre. What happened was real, glancing at a star quarterback elevating his legacy to new heights, voted the game's Most Valuable Player. Finally, he was well-deserving of some praise and spotlight by the end of the night for which he completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. It's always nice to have Jordy Nelson, the latest Super Bowl stud and he was very impressive that he could have split the MVP honors with Rodgers.
In the most important game ever for Nelson, he accounted for nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown, but dropped five passes. It doesn't matter, if you're the winners.
And from an obvious standpoint, the Packers are righteous winners.
A few years from now, Rodgers will be threatening to overshadow Favre's legacy, particularly if he surpasses his unparalleled record book and shatters the results, and at this rate, it's possible, very possible.
If there was any player sensational this postseason, it clearly was Rodgers, the hottest commodity among quarterbacks this season. By the way, he finished the playoffs with 1,094 passing yards and nine touchdown passes, joining Kurt Warner in such an honorable category as the only quarterbacks with 1,000-plus yards passing and nine touchdown passes.
Even so now, in many ways, he's better than what Favre was in his young career, already the all-time leader in passer rating in the postseason with a 112.6 rating to surpass Starr. With a lone Super Bowl under his belt, along with a belt celebration like no other, he just has to win another title to surmount above Favre.
Of course, with all of this happening instantly, nobody in Green Bay misses Favre and have happily fell in love with Rodgers, calling most of the town Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood. And for such a creative name, it doesn't take long to understand that the Lombardi Trophy will land in his neighborhood.
Titletown U.S.A. still exist.
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