Green Bay Packers - Super Bowl Champions!
DALLAS - Aaron Rodgers stepped out of Brett Favre's remaining shadow, as the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV with a 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh.
Rodgers was the game's MVP completing 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Packers took full advantage of three Pittsburgh turnovers, scoring touchdowns after every one of them. They included two interceptions by Ben Roethlisberger and a lost fumble by Steelers' running back Rashard Mendenhall.
Green Bay never trailed. But with a couple of key injuries to Charles Woodson and Donald Driver, the Packers couldn't shake off the Steelers after building up a 21-3 second quarter lead.
Pittsburgh made it a three-point game with 7:34 left as Roethlisberger threw his second touchdown pass of the night - a 25-yarder to Mike Wallace - and Antwaan Randle El made a two-point conversion.
But the Packers then pulled off a 5 1/2 minute back-breaking drive, ending with Mason Crosby's 23-yard field goal. And a fourth-down pass went incomplete on the Steelers' final drive, giving Green Bay its fourth Super Bowl title, its 13th NFL championship and its first crown since the 1996 season.
Greg Jennings caught two touchdown passes, and Jordy Nelson had a career night with nine catches for 140 yards and Green Bay's first TD. Nick Collins returned an interception 37 yards for the Pack's other score.
The Packers come home today, and will be honored in a ceremony at four p.m tomorrow at Lambeau Field.
Just as the Packers shook off injuries all year, they had to do it again last night. Woodson and Driver missed the entire second half - Woodson with a broken collarbone, and Driver with an ankle injury. Corner Sam Shields also sat out much of the second half with a shoulder injury. But that was nothing new for a Packer team whose players missed 180 games to injury this season. Coach Mike McCarthy said the Packers faced adversity again last night, and other players stepped up. He said the victory was a proud moment, and he couldn't say enough about his team. Green Bay never used injuries as an excuse, as they became the first number-six seed in the NFC to reach the Super Bowl. And they were only the fourth in league history to make the Big Game after winning three straight playoff games on the road.
Aaron Rodgers matched Brett Favre's lone Super Bowl victory from January of 1997 - the team's last until now. And Rodgers trumped Favre by winning the MVP award, which old Number-Four never achieved. Rodgers said he never felt like he had a monkey on his back, and the Packer organization totally believed in him ever since he was the team's first-round draft choice six years ago. Rodgers bided his time as a back-up to Favre for three seasons. In 2008, Rodgers told general manager Ted Thompson he would repay the team's trust and give them the opportunity to win a championship. And last night, coach Mike McCarthy said he put the game squarely on Rodgers' shoulders, without help from a Green Bay running game that only amassed 50 yards. The quarterback changed plays at the last moment to adjust to a solid Pittsburgh defense which only gave up 14.5 points a game this season. Rodgers overcame a rough start in which he overthrew receivers. And the Packer wide-outs dropped five passes in the second half. Rodgers said the team struggled at times on offense. But Steelers' coach Mike Tomlin said Rodgers showed his mettle, and kept standing in there and throwing.
Packers' coach Mike McCarthy motivated his players on Saturday night by having them fitted for Super Bowl rings. Defensive end Ryan Pickett said it was the type of bravado McCarthy had displayed all season behind closed doors. He said the coach thought they were going to win it all, so they may as well have their fingers measured. The coach said after the game that the Packers respected the Steelers and the way they play - but the Packers came in knowing they were going to win. Corner Sam Shields said it was a great way for the coach to show he had confidence in the team. Packers' president Mark Murphy said he knew about McCarthy's motivational tactic - and he was excited about it. Murphy says the organization will decide during the next couple weeks how the rings should be designed.