Aaron Rodgers’ Three Touchdown Passes Lift Packers to Fourth Super Bowl Championship

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Aaron Rodgers' Three Touchdown Passes Lift Packers to Fourth Super Bowl Championship

Final, Packers 31-25: Awesome stuff. It was a nasty fight for much of the second half, but the Packers outlasted the Steelers for a tense Super Bowl victory. It’s the fourth Super Bowl win in Packers history, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the man behind it all, completing 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns.

Fourth quarter, 1:59, Packers 31-25: Dumb kick return for the Steelers. First, Isaac Redman took eight seconds to go down, which killed the offense’s use of the two-minute warning. Second, Keyaron Fox committed a personal foul after the play to back the Steelers up to the 13. Ben Roethlisberger has 87 yards between himself and a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction.

Fourth quarter, 2:07, Packers 31-25: Mason Crosby kicked a 23-yard field goal, but the Packers wasted a goal-to-go opportunity to end the game. Ben Roethlisberger has a chance to engineer his second Super Bowl-winning drive in three years, and he’s got one timeout at his disposal. Without leader Charles Woodson, the Packers’ defense has to orchestrate the biggest stop of the entire 2010 season.

Fourth quarter, 7:34, Packers 28-25: The Steelers just keep answering, and despite Ben Roethlisberger’s poor play in the first half, he’s shown how clutch he’s become in these situations. Roethlisberger threw a nice 25-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, who ran a nice fly pattern on third-and-3. If the Steelers find a way to win this game, Wallace might have positioned himself to be the fourth Steelers wide receiver to win Super Bowl MVP. Then, on the two-point conversion, Roethlisberger faked a hand-off up the middle — it looked like a read play — and then scrambled to the left before pitching it to Antwaan Randle El. So, essentially, it was a read play that turned into an option. That’s some clever stuff right there.

Fourth quarter, 11:57, Packers 28-17: Aaron Rodgers threw his third touchdown of the game, and Greg Jennings snagged his second score to help the Packers capitalize off of Rashard Mendenhall’s fumble. It seemed like Pittsburgh was confused on defense before the snap, and Jennings ran a nice corner route through the secondary. Rodgers hit him with an eight-yard touchdown pass on second-and-goal, and the Packers have their momentum back. It’s also worth noting that Green Bay was 0-for-4 on third down in the third quarter, but the Packers converted twice — on distances of seven and 10 yards — on that drive.

Fourth quarter, 14:53, Packers 21-17: The Packers have forced a third Steelers turnover, as linebacker Clay Matthews knocked the ball from Rashard Mendenhall to give the Packers the ball at its 45.

End of third quarter, Packers 21-17: Green Bay is clinging to its lead, and the Steelers have great field position at the start of the fourth quarter. After Rashard Mendenhall opened the drive with an eight-yard run, Pittsburgh has a second-and-2 from the Packers’ 33.

Third quarter, 0:19, Packers 21-17: Brett Swain dropped a third-down pass, and Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have any receivers who want to use their hands to catch the ball. They’re really missing Donald Driver, and they’ve only got one first down in the third quarter. After the punt, the Steelers take over at the Green Bay 41.

Third quarter, 0:47, Packers 21-17: So much for Green Bay winning the battle for field position. After a good punt, Tramon Williams senselessly whacked a Steeler in the head and cost his team 15 yards. Green Bay takes over at its own 13.

Third quarter, 1:15, Packers 21-17: Packers wide receiver Donald Driver is on the sideline in a soft boot, so he’s done for the game. That’s a tough blow for another Green Bay veteran.

Third quarter, 2:23, Packers 21-17: The Steelers held serve again on defense, but the missed field goal cost them plenty in field position. The Packers gained one first down, and the punt pinned Pittsburgh back at its 13.

Third quarter, 4:29, Packers 21-17: Shaun Suisham badly pulled a 52-yard field-goal attempt, and that sets up the Packers at their own 42-yard line. That seemed like an unnecessary risk on Mike Tomlin’s part because of the field position. But in reality, Suisham is 3-for-9 in his career on field goals from 50 yards or more. He’s only attempted one from that distance in the last two seasons, and he hasn’t made a 50-yarder since 2008. With the Steelers’ defense playing great in the first two series of the half, a punt would have been the much better option there.

Third quarter, 9:00, Packers 21-17: The Packers went three-and-out for the second straight possession, and Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison recorded Pittsburgh’s first sack of the game on third down. It’s hard to believe that this game was in jeopardy of being a rout just seven minutes earlier on the game clock. Pittsburgh takes over at its 40.

Third quarter, 10:13, Packers 21-17: The Steelers got back into the game in the way they needed to, by establishing Rashard Mendenhall on the ground. The Steelers ran the ball on all five plays of their first possession of the second half, and Mendenhall had two runs for 25 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown. Meanwhile, cornerback Charles Woodson, Green Bay’s emotional leader who gave the final pregame speech in the locker room, was on the sideline in a sling. The momentum is firmly in Pittsburgh’s direction.

Third quarter, 12:39, Packers 21-10: The Packers have had two drives end with third-down drops on plays that could have led to touchdowns, and the Steelers are getting the ball with great field position and a chance to intensify this game. After the punt and a face-mask penalty on Tom Crabtree, the Steelers have the ball at midfield.

Third quarter, 14:50, Packers 21-10: Wow, Charles Woodson is out with a collarbone injury. That is huge.

Third quarter, 15:00, Packers 21-10: The Steelers set themselves back by 11 points in the first half, and the Black Eyed Peas set mankind back by 100 years at halftime. Now, the third quarter is underway.

Halftime, Packers 21-10: Some injury updates coming from the Packers: Donald Driver’s X-rays on his ankle were negative, and Nick Collins went to the locker room for an IV. Sam Shields also has a shoulder injury.

Halftime, Packers 21-10: The extended halftime is going to be important for both teams. The Packers need it to get their injured players back to health, as safety Nick Collins departed for the locker room after Pittsburgh’s touchdown drive. And the Steelers need the time to make some serious adjustments after they let the Packers build an 18-point lead. The Steelers are trying to become the fifth team in the 45-year history of the Super Bowl to erase a multiple-possession deficit. Judging by Ben Roethlisberger’s late touchdown drive, they’ve got the mental toughness to do it. Will they? Well, that’s a whole different question.

Second quarter, 0:39, Packers 21-10: Ben Roethlisberger, who looked to be in a haze after he whacked the back of his head on the turf on that drive, has redeemed himself a bit by leading the Steelers’ first touchdown drive of the game. Roethlisberger hit one-time Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward for two big gains on that possession, once for a 14-yard gain on third-and-10 and then for an eight-yard touchdown. That salvaged some hope for the Steelers, particularly because the Packers will receive the second-half kickoff.

Second quarter, 1:37, Packers 21-3: Cornerback Charles Woodson has joined wide receiver Donald Driver in the locker room. Woodson hurt his left shoulder while diving to break up a pass down the left sideline for Mike Wallace. You know what’s interesting? A lot of things are going wrong when the Steelers throw to Wallace.

Second quarter, 2:24, Packers 21-3: Aaron Rodgers tossed his second touchdown pass of the game, moments after Ben Roethlisberger threw his second pick. Rodgers stepped up and threw a bullet to Greg Jennings on a play that was designed to exploit the Steelers’ defense. The only way this zone scheme can be successful is if the inside linebackers read their drops perfectly, and James Farrior didn’t drop deep enough into coverage as Jennings raced past him. Rodgers stepped up and made the throw, and safety Ryan Clark was inches away from tipping it away. That 21-yard strike has put this game in jeopardy of being a rout.

Second quarter, 4:28, Packers 14-3: Ben Roethlisberger threw his second interception of the game, as cornerback Jarrett Bush jumped Mike Wallance’s crossing pattern to give the Packers the ball at the Green Bay 47. Bush played it perfectly, and Roethlisberger appeared to never see him.

Second quarter, 5:30, Packers 14-3: No team has ever won the Super Bowl after trailing by 14 points. The largest deficit ever overcome in victory is 10 points (the Redskins did it against the Broncos 23 years ago, and the Saints did it against the Colts last year). There have only been 13 successful comebacks from seven-plus points down. And finally, the Steelers are trying to erase their second 14-point deficit in this postseason.

Second quarter, 9:35, Packers 14-3: Pittsburgh’s defense held up on its end, forcing the Packers to a three-and-out after James Farrior’s solid tackle of Donald Driver about a half-yard shy of a first down. Driver hurt his left knee or ankle on the play and limped off. The replay looked worse than his reaction, so that’s something to monitor. Steelers wideout Emmanuel Sanders was carted into the locker room, so it looks like he’s all done.

Second quarter, 11:08, Packers 14-3: Shaun Suisham kicked a 33-yard field goal to get the Steelers on the board, but Pittsburgh’s defense needs a stop on this series to validate those three points. Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders spiked his helmet after getting hurt on that drive. The thing that will always stick out to me about Sanders: After the Patriots whooped them this season, Sanders was asked how he felt about the game, and he said he was feeling good because they started utilizing him more in the offense. So you know, there’s that.

Second quarter, 13:00, Packers 14-0: Flozell Adams returned to the field for the start of the second quarter, so his return to Dallas was only derailed for a few plays.

End of first quarter, Packers 14-0: Ben Roethlisberger slipped while trying to deliver a second-down pass, and he spent a few seconds checking out his left knee and then hobbling back to the huddle. But on the next play, third-and-9, Roethlisberger stepped up into the pocket and scrambled 18 yards to the Green Bay 32. Roethlisberger  limped after the play, but he was healthy enough to evade pressure up the left side. By the way, right tackle Flozell Adams has been replaced by Trai Essex. Adams was hurt during Nick Collins’ interception.

First quarter, 3:20, Packers 14-0: Ben Roethlisberger’s first pass of the Steelers’ third possession was a horrid one, to say the least. With pressure from the left side, Roethlisberger threw off his back foot, and his bid for Mike Wallace fell about 20 yards short. Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins easily picked it off and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. It was a heck of a return, and Collins jumped through a couple of Steelers to get into the end zone.

First quarter, 3:34, Packers 7-0: Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden, who was getting picked on through much of the Packers’ two possessions, has left the game with a hip injury, and the team called his return questionable. After a holding penalty on the kickoff, the Steelers will start their drive at the 7.

First quarter, 3:44, Packers 7-0: The Packers struck first, as Jordy Nelson caught a beautiful throw from Aaron Rodgers for a 29-yard touchdown on third-and-1. Nelson was battling with cornerback William Gay down the right sideline — Gay was holding Nelson, who pushed off before leaping, so it’s probably fair that nothing was called — and Nelson positioned himself perfectly to make the catch on the shadow of the goal line.

Two good signs for the Packers on that drive: James Starks ran three times for 17 yards. The Packers don’t have to run the ball to win this game, but anything they get from Starks will be a huge boost. And the Packers’ offensive line is blocking the Steelers one-on-one on almost every play. The Steelers are hitting Rodgers, but not until after he unloads the ball.

First quarter, 8:17, 0-0: Rashard Mendenhall started the Steelers’ second drive with two runs for 24 yards, but a false start eventually doomed the possession. By the way, it looked like B.J. Raji smoked through center Doug Legursky on third-and-1, and Ben Roethlisberger didn’t have much time to do anything. The Packers’ next shot starts at their 20 after the punt.

First quarter, 11:05, 0-0: Aaron Rodgers just missed Jordy Nelson on a deep third-and-7 throw down the right sideline. The Steelers had a little pressure on Rodgers, who threw it off his back foot, but the ball still should have been caught by Nelson, who dove forward and let the ball sneak through his hands. Rodgers was 1-for-4 on the drive, but there have been some openings in the Pittsburgh secondary. If Rodgers had enough time to step into that throw, he probably would have hit Nelson in stride for a touchdown. Pittsburgh takes over at its 20 after the punt.

First quarter, 13:13, 0-0: The Steelers went three-and-out, and Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown were on the wrong page on a failed third-and-10 throw. Things got really tricky on the punt, as Sam Shields trucked his own teammate, Tramon Williams, as he caught the ball. After a brief scrum, officials determined Williams recovered the ball at the Green Bay 21.

First quarter, 14:54, 0-0: Antonio Brown hesitated to leave the end zone, but he recovered to return the opening kickoff to the Steelers’ 36-yard line. It’s game time, folks.

6:31 p.m.: The Steelers called tails and lost the toss, and the Packers elected to defer. Pittsburgh will start the game with the ball.

6:28 p.m.: Apparently, Christina Aguilera screwed up the words to the national anthem. That’s not exactly awesome.

6:15 p.m.: It sounds like Steelers fans have outnumbered Packers fans by a two-to-one ratio. There’s no telling which fan base was most affected by the fact that the NFL sold tickets for seats that are about as real as Santa Claus.

6:11 p.m.: The Packers and Steelers have taken the field at Cowboys Stadium, and they’re just moments away from the start of a game that should be a great one.

5:33 p.m.: According to the NFL, 1,250 fans were affected by the seating issue, but 850 of them got relocated to similar or better seats, which means 400 will watch the game from the outside plaza. It sounds like all 1,250 ticket holders will be paid $2,700 for the inconvenience. The best idea I’ve seen so far? Those 400 fans should receive tickets and travel accommodations to Super Bowl XLVI.

5:25 p.m.: The Packers and Steelers are about an hour away from kickoff in Dallas, which means we’re about two bad musical performances away from from the final football game of the season.

4:54 p.m.: It sounds like there’s a pretty awful situation happening in Dallas right now. The NFL didn’t complete the installation of a few sections of temporary seats, and those ticket holders have been relocated outside to the plaza. The league will refund them three times their money (for the face value of the ticket), but that’s not going to be nearly enough to repay the fans for travel expenses and the headache that will destroy their Super Bowl experience. The seats were reportedly priced at $600, and that means the NFL will pay the fans $1,800. Yet, reports indicate many fans paid between $2,500 and $3,000 on the secondary market.

4:08 p.m.: Since I’ve been talking all week about why I think the Packers will win, it’s probably a good time to mention how the Steelers can win. First, they’ve got to put a ton of pressure on Aaron Rodgers, and outside linebacker James Harrison might have a chip on his shoulder to show the world he deserves more hype than Green Bay counterpart Clay Matthews gets. By getting that pressure, the Steelers will force the Packers to use a tight end on the line, which will take away a slot receiver as well as the Packers’ chances to attack the seams.

Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall will have to win the MVP, too. I don’t think Ben Roethlisberger will be able to have an MVP-type performance against Green Bay’s defense, so the Steelers absolutely must run the ball with Mendenhall.

1:53 p.m.: The Steelers have boarded the first bus bound for Cowboys Stadium, and the anticipation is really starting to boil. If you’re looking for some pregame reading material, check out some content from this week:

Poll: Which franchise is the best in NFL history?

Forty-five things to know about Super Bowl XLV.

Where does Rashard Mendenhall rank among the league’s best running backs?

Why experience doesn’t always matter in the Super Bowl.

Donald Driver takes a shot at Brett Favre.

A rookie center has never determined the outcome of a Super Bowl.

Here’s why the Packers will win the Super Bowl.

8 a.m.: And they’re off. The Super Bowl has been broken down and dissected time and again, and it’s truly fitting that two of the all-time great franchises are squaring off in the most massive domed structure on the planet.

The Packers and Steelers have been doing this for nearly a century, and one win will add to the great legacy of that specific franchise. And then there’s Ben Roethlisberger,  who could improve his Super Bowl record to 3-0 and essentially make himself a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is attempting to make the same jump that Drew Brees did last year, winning that ring to vault himself toward the top of the NFL’s quarterback class.

This game has plenty of implications, both for the current teams, as well as the Steelers and Packers of the past. It’s time to swallow up those last few hours of pregame hype, but later Sunday evening, it should all be worth it.

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