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Old 02-08-2011, 07:52 AM   #1
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Default Green Bay champs again! 10 things we learned

Green Bay champs again! 10 things we learned
Cold, Hard Football Facts for February 6, 2011
Green Bay champs again! 10 things we learned
By Jonathan Comey


We learned more than 10 things from an incredible Super Bowl XLV here in Arlington, Texas. And in the aftermath of it one fact shines brightest – that was a hell of a football game.

Aaron Rodgers was a deserving MVP after the 31-25 win, and the Green Bay franchise adds another amazing chapter to its history with this win over a tough and perhaps equally as storied Pittsburgh team.

Here are 10 other things we learned from a Super Bowl worthy of the huge stage at Cowboys Stadium.

1. Rodgers isn’t just in the elite group, he leads it. Although America seemed to be unaware of Rodgers’ ascendance prior to the playoffs, he’s been lights out for all three of his seasons as the Green Bay QB.

He’s already had as good a start to his playoff career as any quarterback, and he’s done it regardless of who’s been in front of him on the offensive line or on the other end of his passes.

The Packers have a good amount of talent, but they’d be just another team without Rodgers. With Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees in their 30s, Philip Rivers lacking postseason cache and Ben Roethlisberger just not quite the QB those other guys are, Rodgers can stake claim as the guy you’d start a franchise with.

Most notably, he's already the top-rated passer in regular-season history (98.4). And, after his Super Bowl performance, he's now offiically the highest-rated passer in postseason history, too (112.6), surpassing the mark previously held by another Packers great, Bart Starr (104.3).

2. Yes, this was a top-five Super Bowl in history. It wasn’t quite as thrilling or emotional as the Saints’ win over the Colts just last year, and there have been better quarterback matchups through the years.

But when you add up the historical value of the franchises, the ebbs and flows of the game, the play of two great QBs, the big plays on both sides and the hugeness of the buildup, it’s tough to make an argument against it as a classic.

It wasn’t always the cleanest game, but Super Bowls frequently aren’t – they come down to heart and soul, and both teams had plenty.

3. The Steelers are more resilient than a Stretch Armstrong toy. They didn’t win, but you certainly have to 3. respect the effort that the Steelers put forth. Going down 21-3 in a Super Bowl pretty much means game over, but they came pretty close to doing the impossible. Losing the turnover battle 3-0? Ditto. Going down 11 in the fourth? An unscalable wall.

But Pittsburgh just kept chugging, and Ben Roethlisberger deserves a lot of credit for playing through a rough ankle injury to just keep coming and coming and coming.

In the end, he didn’t have a good enough game to win, but Roethlisberger didn’t tarnish his legacy a bit with his performance.

4. The Defensive MVP was not a factor. Troy Polamalu was completely quiet, and while some of this was due to Pittsburgh’s big time of possession advantage, the fact is that Polamalu plays a position that sometimes just doesn’t play a big role in the game. Polamalu was always a half-step late, and was seen frequently throwing his hands to his helmet in frustration.

5. Green Bay’s future is as bright as its present. When you win a Super Bowl, it’s a big deal. When you win a Super Bowl with a team as young as the Packers, it’s a really big deal.

With the exception of Charles Woodson, their great players are all in their prime – Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings, BJ Raji, Tramon Williams, Josh Sitton and more.
Even better, they were able to do it this year by breaking in a lot of young players expected to play reserve roles, which has to be a huge boost.

The Steelers were denied their chance at becoming a dynasty, but don’t be surprised if Green Bay makes a run at one of their own.

6. The Packers just couldn’t stop the Steelers’ counter runs, and this kept Pittsburgh in the game. Time after time, Green Bay couldn’t set the edge, and time after time the Steeler runners found nothing in the middle but bounced it outside for huge runs.

You certainly couldn’t credit the Steeler offensive line for opening up holes, but Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Isaac Redman and Roethlisberger himself all had key gains to lead the Steelers’ comeback. The Packers allowed 4.7 yards a run during the regular season, and you could see why in this one. For all of Clay Matthews’ greatness in the pass rush, he’s not as great vs. the run, and the Steelers took advantage of the Packers’ aggressiveness.

Fortunately for them, it wasn’t ultimately costly.

7. OK, the coin flip thing is weird. The NFC won the coin flip, again, making it 14 in a row. The chances of that? According to our old pal “calculator,” it’s a 1-in-16,384 chance that one conference would win 14 straight 50-50 selections.

It didn’t impact the game. The Steelers took all the momentum into the lockerroom, and the Packers’ decision to defer and get the ball in the second half led to a punt and actually added to Pittsburgh’s momentum.

8. Jordy Nelson’s breakout game was a tribute to Rodgers and Mike McCarthy. Ike Taylor mostly shut down Greg Jennings, so Rodgers did what great quarterbacks do – he found the open man. More often than not, the open man was Nelson, who was seeing more snaps thanks to the injured quad of Donald Driver.

Unfortunately for Rodgers, his open men dropped an awful lot of catchable passes (six), so he had to settle for great numbers instead of absolutely jaw-dropping numbers. Imagine what he could have done with Jermichael Finley in the middle of the field all year.

And McCarthy just called a spectacular game – when you put up 31 points on the Steelers, you’re doing a lot right, and he seemed to have the right call for every situation.

9. The Super Bowl is just an incredible event. If you’ve never been to one, put it on the bucket list and make sure to cross it off. It’s not cheap (unless you’re a lucky media stiff like me), and it involves a lot of travel, hassle and emotion.

But the Bowl is like seeing the best sporting event AND the best show in the world simultaneously. There are celebrities everywhere, the teams are almost always worthy of the stage, and it’s just special to be part of it. The entertainment isn’t always great, and sometimes neither is the game, but it all adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

Just to be there for the opening kickoff, when the crowd noise rises to a din, the flashbulbs go off like a meteor shower and the ball goes in the air is worth the price of admission.

Adding the Cowboys Stadium factor in made it all the more incredible -- the Statue of Liberty would fit inside the dome if you put it at the 50 yard line, and the Jerrytron is truly the biggest thing you’ve ever seen, like if IMAX and a blue whale had a baby.

10. Special teams were just as bad in reality as they looked to be on paper. Both teams’ special units were far from it in the regular season, and only the play of Green Bay punter Tim Masthay in the NFC playoffs stood out as anything above average.

On Sunday, it was tough to choose who was worse. Tramon Williams was a nightmare on punt returns with a fumble and an incomprehensible 15-yard unsportsmanlike call in the third quarter. Shaun Suisham missed a field goal left from 52 yard, and Masthay had a rough day punting for Green Bay.

Add in penalties on returns (from both sides), and you have a not-so-special night … although the Packers are feeling pretty special.
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:08 AM   #2
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Default Re: Green Bay champs again! 10 things we learned

good read and i agree with everything
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