SUPER BOWL XLV Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25 Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas February 6, 2011 Attendance: 103,219
Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC)
Green Bay Packers (NFC)
Aaron Rodgers celebrates with the Lombardi Trophy.
The Packers bent, but never broke.
An MVP performance by Aaron Rodgers and a swarming Green Bay defense made sure of that.
Rodgers guided the Packers to their fourth Super Bowl title, throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Momentum changed hands several times between two of the NFL's most storied franchises, but the less-experienced Packers were able to hold on despite nearly blowing an 18-point first half lead.
In the end, the quarterback with no Super Bowl rings bested the one who already had two.
"We put everything on his shoulders," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said of Rodgers. "He did a lot at the line of scrimmage against a great defense. He did a hell of a job."
Trailing by six with just under two minutes remaining, and starting at his own 13-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger couldn't lead the Steelers on a final scoring drive.
His last pass of the season hit Mike Wallace in the hands in tight coverage and fell harmlessly to the ground, allowing the Packers to kneel out the clock for their first Super Bowl title in 14 years.
"We were looking at a scenario with one timeout and a bunch of grass," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. "We were fully capable of executing it, but we didn't."
Rodgers climbed out of Brett Favre's shadow for good, completing 24 of his 39 passes without an interception while hitting Greg Jennings for two touchdowns and Jordy Nelson for one.
Although he probably vindicated the team's decision to pick him over a surefire Hall of Fame quarterback a couple seasons ago, Rodgers stopped short of saying so.
"I never felt like there was a monkey on my back," he said. "The organization stood by me."
Rodgers was the one clutching the Most Valuable Player award for Super Bowl XLV, but a piece of it certainly belonged to Green Bay's defense, which stood tall despite losing star cornerback Charles Woodson to a broken collarbone in the first half.
The Packers scored 21 of their points after three Pittsburgh turnovers -- including Nick Collins' 37-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Roethlisberger threw two interceptions in the first half, but recovered to complete 25-of-40 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns for the AFC champions.
But it wasn't enough. Trying to win another Super Bowl title for a city that has an NFL-best six already, Roethlisberger felt like he let all of Pittsburgh down.
"I don't blame anyone but myself," he said. "It's not a good feeling."
Nelson caught nine passes for 140 yards, Jennings had four grabs for 64 yards and James Starks rushed 11 times for 52 yards for Green Bay. The offense gained 338 yards despite wideout Donald Driver going out with an ankle injury in the first half.
"What separated us from the other 31 teams (this season) was a dynamic of unity and a will to overcome adversity," Jennings said.
Wallace had nine catches for 89 yards to lead the Steelers. Rashard Mendenhall rushed 14 times for 63 yards and a touchdown, but fumbled on the first play of the fourth quarter, leading to a Green Bay touchdown.
"It came down to turnovers," said Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, a former Super Bowl MVP.
Roethlisberger's second interception led to Rodgers' 21-yard touchdown pass to Jennings with 2:24 remaining in the second quarter, giving the Packers their 18-point lead at 21-3.
The Steelers were reeling, but righted the ship with back-to-back scoring drives to span the first and second half.
Roethlisberger engineered a 77-yard march that gave them life heading into halftime, finding Ward for an eight-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone with 39 seconds left to get Pittsburgh within 21-10.
The Steelers then scored the only points of the third quarter on Mendenhall's eight-yard touchdown run, pulling within 21-17. Green Bay punted on all four of its possessions in the third, but regained the momentum after Mendenhall fumbled on the first play of the fourth.
The ball was jarred loose by Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews, and the Packers took a 28-17 lead when Rodgers found Jennings in the right side of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown.
Steelers safety Troy Polamalu bit on Jennings' fake toward the middle of the end zone, leaving him wide open. The Defensive Player of the Year was also victimized on Jennings' touchdown catch in the second quarter.
"We had a chance to make the right plays and we didn't," said Polamalu.
Roethlisberger connected with Wallace for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 7:34 remaining in the game, finding his receiver behind Sam Shields down the left sideline. He then pitched left to Antwaan Randle El for a successful two-point conversion, getting the Steelers within 28-25.
But Rodgers led the Packers to a field goal on the next series, completing five passes for 64 yards -- including a 31-yarder to Jennings on third down.
Mason Crosby booted a 23-yarder with 2:07 remaining, and the Packers got one last stop.
"Gotta give credit to our defense," Rodgers said. "It's just great to be able to share it with them."
Seeded No. 6 in the NFC, the Packers knocked off the Eagles, Falcons and Bears on the road to reach the big game at giant Cowboys Stadium. And after a slow start by both teams, they took control.
Rodgers found Nelson with 3:44 remaining in the first quarter, hitting him with a perfect pass in the right side of the end zone despite tight coverage from Pittsburgh corner William Gay.
The score capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive for Green Bay and was the first time either team crossed midfield.
The Steelers were barely out of their own end zone after an illegal block on the ensuing kickoff pushed them back to the seven-yard line. Roethlisberger was hit on first down by Packers lineman Howard Green near the end zone and didn't get anything on a long pass intended for Wallace down the left side.
Collins jumped in front of the pass, taking it to the goal line and leaping into the end zone to make it 14-0.
On Pittsburgh's next series, Roethlisberger bent over to clutch his leg after slipping on a pass attempt. But he was able to scramble 18 yards for a first down just before the end of the quarter. The drive stalled and Shaun Suisham kicked a 33-yard field goal at 11:08 of the second quarter, getting Pittsburgh within 14-3.
Jarrett Bush picked off Roethlisberger late in the second quarter -- again on a pass intended for Wallace, who was covered closely by Shields near midfield.
Rodgers then found Jennings just over the goal line after the receiver slipped behind the defense. Jennings held on to the ball despite a hit delivered by Polamalu.
But Roethlisberger completed a 37-yard pass to Randle El on first down, sparking the scoring drive that led to Ward's touchdown grab before halftime.
Suisham missed a 52-yard field goal try way left in the third quarter...The Packers didn't sack Roethlisberger until there was 4:53 left in the third...Green Bay earned its 13th NFL championship overall, the most all-time. It improved to 4-1 in Super Bowls and 29-16 all-time in the playoffs...The Steelers, seeded No. 2 in the AFC, beat the Ravens and Jets to win the conference title. They remain tied with Dallas for the most postseason wins at 33 after having their playoff winning streak snapped at seven, but still hold the record for most Super Bowl wins...Pittsburgh played without Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey after he suffered a high left ankle sprain in the AFC Championship win over the Jets...The Packers won the coin toss and deferred, receiving first in the second half...The Black Eyed Peas performed at halftime, joined on stage by Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash.