Monday, February 7, 2011

Green Bay's Defense Prevents Pittsburgh's Offense from Winning Superbowl XLV

I'm sure the Green Bay Packers could not have been happy with having earlier had a three touchdowns to three points lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers to now lead by only six points in Superbowl XLV. With only two minutes remaining and Ben Roethlisberger with a resume that already included a Super Bowl winning touchdown drive in the waning seconds just two years earlier versus the Cardinals, the Green Bay defense had to admit there was a bit of a Packer Pucker Factor going on.

The Packers knew all too well of Roethlisberger's capability of late-game heroics without recounting past Superbowls. The last time these two teams met was week #14 in the 2009 regular season. That game was a Heinz Field Shoot-out the Steelers won 37-36 on the final play of the game on a 19-yard Wallace touchdown reception with no time remaining courtesy of the aforementioned more than capable of heroics Big Ben. That game was a stunner in more ways than one: It featured 52 "Big Plays", 29 of them provided by Pittsuburgh to Green Bay's 23. The final drive included a converted 4th & 7 with a 32-yard Santonio Holmes reception. Once again, Green Bay led by six with their defense on the field versus an opponent they knew all too well through personal experience was able to drive the length of the field in a pressurized situation and score a game winning touchdown to persevere by one measly point.

Today's game had amazing symmetry to both their game 14 months earlier, and Superbowl XXXII. But in this contest Green Bay cut Pittsburgh's Big Plays by 50% from their previous meeting, while Green Bay played at an even higher level. Early in the third quarter, Roethlisberger on a 2nd & 7 scrambled for a six-yard gain that he took out of bounds rather than absorb the impact of a collision with Packers Safety Charlie Peprah. That's not the kind of attitude and effort at heroics we have come to expect from Superbowl winning quarterbacks ever since John Elway's famous helicopter hit from Super Bowl XXXII, coincidentally, also against the Packers.

Never mind that the ensuing 3rd & 1 was easily converted on the next just somehow knew that this quarterback this time was not going to have what it took. And he didn't. The Green Bay Packers forced the Pittsburgh Steelers to turn it over on downs after a failed 4th & 5 pass attempt to Wallace.

In a post-season that saw the Green Bay Packers recover from a regular season that one didn't have to be a "hawk-eye" to see that they were a walking M*A*S*H unit, they ramped up their big play making ability against a Pittsburgh Steelers squad that was content to rev down their style to one of executing long, methodical, grind-it-out drives.

75% of the previous Superbowls had a team commit at least 3 turnovers, and then lose the game more than 90% of the time. Pittsburgh fell into that statistical disadvantage with Big Ben's two interceptions and Rashard Mendenhall's fumble resulting in 21 points for the Packers offense.

In the end, it was too much for the Steelers to overcome, and the Packers won Superbowl XLV 31 - 25.

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