Super Bowl XLV: Aaron Rodgers and the Games Top Performers
Aaron Rodgers is bringing home the MVP hardware, but last night's Super Bowl victory for the Green Bay Packers was a team effort. And while the Steelers fell short, they still saw some of their players set up big-time. Here we look at the game's top performers from both teams.
Well, I had to start with the MVP. Rodgers was unstoppable, tossing three touchdowns (or the same amount that his counterpart Ben Roethlisberger has COMBINED to throw in his three Super Bowls). Rodgers was poised, accurate (24/39), threw for a lot of yardage (304), and made no key mistakes. His 111.5 rating was actually his second lowest of the playoffs (which just goes to show you how GREAT he's been). I know Tom Brady has a great case for league MVP, but when you consider all the injuries the Packers and Rodgers (on a personal level with two concussions) has had to overcome this season, I think it's fair to call Rodgers the best quarterback in football.
Raise your hand if you chose Nelson as the game's leading receiver prior to kickoff. The dependable slot receiver did drop a couple passes, but more importantly reeled in nine balls for 140 yards and a touchdown, and created serious match-up issues all night for Pittsburgh's suddenly porous secondary.
The Packers top receiver didn't disappoint on the big stage, making up for the absence of Donald Driver to haul in four catches for 64 yards and two scores. Jennings did a great job of hanging on to the ball on his first touchdown grab over the middle.
The Packers running back won't wow you with his stats (11 carries, 52 yards), but he was surprisingly effective against a stout Steelers rush defense (4.7 YPC). Starks ability to pick up consistent yardage made it tough for the Packers to drop extra coverage in the secondary.
Collins pick-six turned a 7-point game to a two-possession game, and clearly rattled the Steelers. Collins made a couple nice moves on the return, and showed great speed in catching up to the errant pass from Roethlisberger.
Again, raise your hand if you thought Charlie Peprah would be the game's leading-tackler. Peprah came up big as he stepped in to help out with a ravaged secondary (Charles Woodson, Sam Shields and Nick Collins each went to the locker room early in the second half). With a decimated secondary, Peprah was forced to step up, and played well.
The speedy receiver is a match-up hell for anybody who has to guard him. Wallace went for 9/89 and a touchdown, and that doesn't include a pass that Roethlisberger overthrew him on that would have gone for six.
Ward started off slowly, but ended up having a nice game (7/78 and a touchdown). He's still one of the toughest receivers in the league.
Antwaan Randle El
With the injury to Emmanuel Sanders, Randle El was pressed into action and played much better than anybody could have expected. He had two catches for 50 yards, including a huge 37-yard catch near the end of the first half that helped set up the Steelers first touchdown. Randle El made a nice move and eluded a tackler on the Steelers two-point conversion.
Matthews was his usual disruptive self, coming up with a forced fumble and a pass deflection. While I prefer Polamalu's locks to Matthews, it was Matthews who came up bigger when it counted on Super Bowl Sunday.