As the bulbs flashed, the crowd roared, and confetti flew, all eyes of the Cowboys Stadium crowd and the record-breaking 111 million T.V viewers were on Aaron Rodgers, the clear MVP of Super Bowl XLV.
Off to the side though stood another Packer, one who was instrumental in the historic victory, one who managed to rise from obscurity this year to become a critical piece of the puzzle: wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
Buried on the Green Bay depth chart behind Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and James Jones, Jordy Nelson was never a top weapon of Aaron Rodgers; having been drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft, he came after the Favre era while Rodgers was still getting his feet under him. He played a minimal if not completely insignificant role in the '08/'09 seasons, recording only 55 catches for 686 yards in 2 full years.
His role in 2010 showed some change. He ended up recording 45 catches for 582 yards and 2 touchdowns, though he did not record the first 100 yard game of his career until he racked up 124 against the Giants in Week 16. Though he picked up his play during the last few regular season games, he was a non factor against the Eagles in the Wild Card round, leading many pundits to leave him out of consideration as a factor player for the postseason.
He worked his way back into the picture against the Falcons and Bears, posting 12 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. It was in Super Bowl 45, however, that Nelson cemented his place in Packer lore forever.
With just over 3 minutes to go in the 1st quarter, Nelson beat Randall Gay to make a jumping catch of a beautifully thrown 29-yard pass from Rodgers, putting up the first points of the Super Bowl.
Nelson proceeded to be the go-to guy for Rodgers throughout the game, totaling 15 targets and racking up 8 more catches for an astounding 140 yards. Despite his stellar play, Nelson did have 3 critical dropped passes, fully half of the team's drops.
Rodgers continued to rely on the young receiver, and one play after his final drop, on 3rd and 10 early in the 4th, Nelson snagged a pass, dodged a few tackles and dashed laterally across the field, going 38 yards and eventually being brought down on the 2 yard line. Greg Jennings caught what would be the game winning touchdown 2 plays later, though Jordy Nelson was the one who put the team in position.
Aaron Rodgers will tell you that his teammates deserve all the credit; obviously this is untrue, but his teammates do deserve SOME credit. Rodgers played a historical game, but Jordy Nelson's Super Bowl performance should never be overlooked. A young and unknown player rising up to help his team win the championship is the stuff of legends. Nelson has his whole career ahead of him, and if he ever ends up in the Super Bowl again, the opposing defense better hope they have a corner that can match him.