The Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV, and with it brought back a trophy that carries the namesake of the their legendary head coach, Vince Lombardi.
It has been 14 years since the Packers have handled a Lombardi Trophy, and the doubters wondered if they could ever win another one without Brett Favre.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers silenced his critics, and by winning the Super Bowl MVP award, has done something that Brett Favre was never able to do.
From the very start, the Packers seemed to come out with the momentum and the energy it takes to win a big game.
In a game that saw the Steelers lead in almost every offensive category including time of possession, the Steelers on the other hand seemed flat, if not overconfident, and by the time they awoke in the second half, their best efforts were stunted by ugly turnovers and stupid penalties.
With no further ado, the final installment of “The Good, Bad, and Ugly,” Super Bowl Edition...
The Steelers only had 261 yards passing in Super Bowl XLV, but it would be tough to find fault with any of the Steelers receivers.
Veteran receiver Hines Ward may have been the MVP of two Super Bowls had the Steelers pulled off yet another last-minute drive for a win.
Ward finished the game with seven catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, and made several key grabs when the Steelers needed them the most.
Second-year receiver Mike Wallace was nothing short of stellar as well with nine catches for 89 yards and another Steelers touchdown.
Had quarterback Ben Roethlisberger been anywhere close to on his game, Wallace may have had a career day, being open deep all game long.
When half of the Packers secondary went down to injury at halftime, the Steelers had a grand opportunity, and the receivers found themselves open and over- or under-thrown a majority of the time.
The Steelers return game continuously put the offense in position to succeed Sunday night, and while Antonio Brown’s 22-yard average (38 long) isn’t eye-popping, he came within a broken tackle of going the distance at least twice.
The Steelers offense again took little advantage of field position, but it certainly was not the result of the return game.
The poor performance of the offense had more to do with pass protection and poor decision-making on Ben Roethlisberger’s part than anything else.
The running game, while used on a limited basis, was successful for a majority of the night when given an opportunity.
The Steelers averaged 5.5 yards per carry on 22 carries for 126 yards in Super Bowl XLV.
Aside from the late Rashard Mendenhall fumble that led to the winning Green Bay touchdown, the Pittsburgh running game was successful against a very good Packer defense.
“We don’t attack people, we just call plays and let the quarterback run it out.” Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said after Super Bowl XLV.
Ummm…Why not, coach?
Opportunities continued to present themselves to the Steelers offense for the majority of the night in a number of forms.
How many forms?
2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson and heralded rookie Sam Shields both left the game at halftime, leaving the Packers’ defense even more vulnerable to the deep ball than they already were, with Mike Wallace getting open deep most of the first half, for starters.
The results of such good fortune?
A plethora of non-successful wide receiver screen passes and hitch routes.
Despite a stout defensive line and run-stuffing linebackers, the Packers proved susceptible to the run.
The result of these findings resulted in complete and utter abandonment of the run after marching the ball 50 yards on five plays for a touchdown in the third quarter.
The question must be asked one final time as the 2010 season comes to an end…Did the Steelers make the Super Bowl with the help of Bruce Arians, or did they make the Super Bowl despite the play-calling ineptitude of their offensive coordinator?
The reputation has served him well. After all, he has been the best comeback artist the NFL has seen since John Elway, but when it comes to Super Bowls, Ben Roethlisberger has had to come back because of inability to get the job done for the first 3½ quarters of the football game.
After winning Super Bowl XL with the lowest quarterback rating by a winning quarterback in the history of the Super Bowl, Roethlisberger fared a bit better in Super Bowl XLIII.
But when it came down to it, Roethlisberger failed to throw a touchdown pass until the team’s final scoring drive to win the game. Instead, No. 7 relied upon the good fortune of special defensive plays like James Harrison’s record interception return for a touchdown.
The trend continued in Super Bowl XLV as Roethlisberger ended the game with a minuscule 77.4 passer rating when compared to Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers (111.5 in his first Super Bowl).
On the world’s biggest stage, Big Ben played very small once again.
A total of 263 yards passing is a career high for Roethlisberger in the Super Bowl, but when you consider the inaccuracy with which he threw the football, it becomes clear that he could have thrown for closer to 400 yards.
Instead, Roethlisberger’s decision-making and incessant inability to hit his receivers downfield caused him to throw two interceptions to match his two touchdown passes.
Roethlisberger may be one of the top five to eight quarterbacks in the league, but until he finds a way to show up big for an entire game in the biggest games, he will never be put in the same category as Tom Brady, Terry Bradshaw or Joe Montana.
Three, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero.
No it’s not a lottery number, car mileage, or even the yearly earnings of a player earning the minimum league salary. Those numbers are Troy Polamalu’s stat line from Super Bowl XLV.
The game-changing 2010 Defensive Player of the Year had three tackles and failed to register a single sack, interception, pass deflection, fumble or forced fumble. Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that the only impact No. 43 had on the Super Bowl game was a negative one.
Polamalu got caught flat-footed on three separate occasions, all of which resulted in big plays for the offense, one of which directly resulted in a second-half touchdown.
Polamalu’s inability to impact the football game had more of an impact than most even realize. His relative nonexistence, mixed with James Harrison’s inability to get to the quarterback, made for a tough night for the Steelers.
It has been the weakest link of the Steelers defense, and the pass defense finished the 2010 season in kind.
Pittsburgh gave up 304 yards passing to Aaron Rodgers. While three sacks knocked that number down to 288 yards, the damage came by way of 11 passing first downs (six on third down).
Bryant McFadden, who came into his own in Super Bowl XLIII against the Cardinals, was nothing more than a shell figure of what we saw in 2008. His early exit from the game Sunday left little fall off.
While Ike Taylor played a solid game, Ryan Clark once again looked a step slow in comparison to just one season ago. In the end, the Packers receivers proved to be too much for the black and gold secondary.
The Steelers drastically need to address the secondary in the offseason if they hope to return to the big dance in 2011.
The Steelers turned the ball over three times in Super Bowl XLV, all of which led to Green Bay points.
Ben Roethlisberger threw two interceptions in the game. Nick Collins returned one of the Roethlisberger interceptions 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, giving the Packers a 14-0 lead.
In the second half, the Steelers found life offensively as they clawed their way back into the game, but a Rashard Mendenhall fumble as the Steelers drove with the ball down just three points led to the eventual game-winning score, as Aaron Rodgers hit Greg Jennings for an eight-yard touchdown.
The Steelers came into the game as the more experienced team in terms of age and Super Bowl appearances, but looked to be opposite as they looked rattled at the hands of the second-youngest team in the NFL.
Their mental and physical mistakes as a football team cost them the game as result of the points scored from these turnovers.
The Pittsburgh Steelers accomplished more this season than most, excluding Peter King and the city of Pittsburgh, ever thought was possible.
After losing their starting quarterback for the first four games of the season, the Steelers became a team, and showed signs of unity that was lacking in 2009.
While the Steelers lost the Super Bowl, they gained a Pro Bowl center in rookie Maurkice Pouncey, a star in the making in receiver Mike Wallace, and a refocused teammate and top-tier quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger.
The season did not come without its trials by way of massive injuries across the board to the offensive line, Aaron Smith, and at times several other veterans on the team, but they overcame.
If the Steelers can find a way, assuming the CBA is finalized in due time, to address their weaknesses on the offensive line and in the secondary, they will have every opportunity to make a run at another Super Bowl in 2011.