Here we are, nearly a few days after the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to win Super Bowl XLV and my feet are still nowhere near to touching the ground.
What a ride. After the 31-27 defeat at Foxboro to the New England Patriots that dropped the Packers to 8-6, things looked bleak. Aaron Rodgers was coming off his second concussion of the season and the defense, depleted by injuries, got burned in a shootout by one of the NFL’s best in Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Some fans had doubt as to whether the team could win its last two regular season games to just make the postseason, let alone win 3 road playoff games to make it to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV. It seemed like the Packers, while they fought gallantly all year, would finally succumb to the ridiculous amount of injuries and start preparing for 2011.
After that game however, something magical happened.
Rodgers returned and rode a hot hand all the way to the MVP of the Super Bowl. The defense buckled down and different players rose to make plays on different occasions. Mike McCarthy fell into a zone with his playcalling and suddenly could do no wrong.
I thought this season was special with the Packers just making the playoffs. Now that they’ve won the Lombardi Trophy, the season qualifies as legendary and epic.
Before we look back on the season as a whole, let’s take one final look back at Super Bowl XLV in another edition of Game Balls and Lame Calls.
QB Aaron Rodgers
To borrow a line from CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman, Aaron Rodgers was “ballin’” during Super Bowl XLV en route to the game’s MVP award.
Despite his numbers being lower than they should have been due to some boneheaded drops by his receivers, Rodgers was locked in all day long throwing the ball with the pinpoint accuracy.
Rodgers gets a game ball for another reason as well. All week long, with national and international media present, he was asked multiple times about Brett Favre. Every day since the departure of Favre in 2008, Rodgers bit his lip and turned a question about Number 4 into a statement about the team.
Super Bowl Week was no different. Rodgers handled himself with class all week and by virtue of his performance and accomplishing something Brett never did—winning the Super Bowl MVP—Rodgers busted the ghost of Favre for good (even though I thought he did that last year, this should finally shut EVERYONE up. This means YOU Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless).
Rodgers did let one slip on Letterman though:
“I took all the reps in the offseason and he (Favre) took all the reps in the regular season.”
Head Coach Mike McCarthy
I believed in McCarthy all along and I’m glad that faith has been rewarded.
Never has a coach who won the Super Bowl taken such a beating in-season from fans except perhaps Tom Coughlin when the New York Giants won Super Bowl XLII. After the Packers lost 7-3 in Detroit to the lowly Lions, many Packer fans were calling for McCarthy’s head if not his job.
“This man will never lead us to a Super Bowl, let alone win one.”
Fail. Epic fail.
McCarthy knew what he had in this team all along and refused to let them feel sorry for themselves due to all the injuries. While fans were jumping up and down in a tantrum, McCarthy kept the faith and believed that his system would pay dividends in the end.
The same fans that were calling for him to be fired are now trumpeting his success and saying he got robbed by not being named Coach of the Year. Hey, I’m not going to knock them and am glad they finally saw the light. Passion is what makes fans great.
I just wish they’d let the entire year play out before jumping to conclusions.
Charles Woodson….OUT. Sam Shields…..wounded.
Packer Nation all went “gulp” at once.
With their emotional leader out and their hot young corner playing wounded, it looked for awhile like the Steelers might not just catch the Packers but blow by them en route to a seventh title.
However, even before Woodson went out, one of the more unheralded Packers stepped up to make a play. Jarrett Bush (he of special teams fame) came up with a big interception that brought a Steelers drive to a screeching halt that kept the game going in the Packers’ favor.
Nick Collins earlier added what is becoming a typical pick-six and the secondary lifted Woodson up at the end of the game, even without No. 21 being on the field.
LB Clay Matthews
“The Bloodline” came up big in the Super Bowl and did so on a single play.
With the Steelers moving towards a go ahead score, Matthews hit Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall’s should perfectly, forcing a fumble that linebacker Desmond Bishop scooped up and nearly scored with.
While supposed NFL defensive player of the year Troy Polamalu was kept in check all game, Matthews was wreaking havoc for the Packers and was a thorn in Ben Roethlisberger’s side all night long.
I know the Packers won the game and all that matter is that the Packers have the trophy.
I agree, but I can’t help but think this game should not have been nearly as close as it ended up being because the Packers receivers, namely Jordy Nelson and James Jones, developed a bad case of the drops.
Jones dropped what surely would have been a touchdown that could have put the Packers back up by 18 in the second half. Nelson dropped a pass that would have extended a drive in the fourth quarter instead of having the Packers settle for a field goal and giving Roethlisberger yet again another chance for some late game heroics.
With Donald Driver out with an ankle injury, Greg Jennings was the only “sure handed” receiver left on the Packers and it nearly cost them the game.
Thankfully the Packers defense stepped up and those drops didn’t end up playing a bigger role in the game than they did.
The hosts (Jerry Jones, the NFL and Dallas)
Disclaimer: I was not in Dallas, but judging from what I read on Twitter and in the media, the weather in Dallas was only the beginning of what turned out to be a big ol’ Charlie Foxtrot for the city and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
First, the weather is no one’s fault except God’s. Dallas isn’t use to this kind of weather, but with the ability nowadays to get long term forecasts, wouldn’t you think the city would have been able to get plows and salting trucks from somewhere since they should have known a couple days ahead this was coming?
The reports of the slow (or even lack of) response by the city is embarrassing.
As for Jones, with ice falling off the roof of his stadium that could have killed people, he disappeared and showed the leadership skills of a snake. In a situation like that Jones should have been up front and center explaining why this happened and what was going to be done to fix it.
Instead we got silence. Jerry, this is your child and when your child decks someone you don’t pass the blame on to someone else. Own up to your mistakes.
The NFL goofed as well with the seating snafu. If I were one of those hundreds of people that couldn’t get a seat due to “safety violations” I would be livid. The league (and Jones too I suppose) knew about this ahead of time and stayed quiet.
The league should refund every dime those people spent on lodging and airfare in addition to the ticket. If they knew they had to watch the game on TV, they would have stayed home.
Jones wanted this opportunity to get his stadium in the “regular” Super Bowl rotation along with Miami, San Diego and Tampa amongst others. It’s not going to happen, nor should it.
The Cowboys owner is used to getting his way with the league. He’ll throw a tantrum like a spoiled child until he gets what he wants.
This is Roger Goodell’s chance to stick a pacifier in Jones’ mouth once and for all and spare fans of the other 31 teams from his drivel.
Sorry Jerry, you blew it.
The trophy is coming home and that’s all that matters really.
With that, the 2010 NFL season is over. Due to the looming specter of a lockout of the players by the owners, who knows when we will all be able to gather together again to watch our beloved Packers?
That said there was not a better way for the season to end for us Cheeseheads. The Vince Lombardi Trophy is back at home and suddenly all is well once again in Packer Nation.
It almost bears REPEATING.
XLV or DIE now turns into Repeat or Defeat.
Help me out here, Nick Barnett——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke