Packers defeat Steelers to win Super Bowl
Sunday, February 6, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Aaron Rodgers has turned the Green Bay Packers into Super Bowl champions once again.
Rodgers threw three touchdown passes and Nick Collins returned an interception for another score, leading the Packers to a 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
This was Green Bay's fourth Super Bowl title. The Packers won the first two Super Bowls with Vince Lombardi coaching Bart Starr, and captured another with Brett Favre in January 1997.
The Steelers trailed 21-3 before halftime. Ben Roethlisberger got them within 28-25 midway through the fourth quarter with a touchdown pass and a nifty 2-point conversion. The Packers answered with a field goal, giving Roethlisberger one last chance.
Needing to go 87 yards in 1:59 with one timeout left, Roethlisberger couldn't make it across midfield.
Green Bay led 21-17 after three quarters, but the Packers were without cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Sam Shields and receiver Donald Driver.
The Steelers had the momentum, the experience and the crowd — tens of thousands of fans twirling "Terrible Towels" and making things tough for Rodgers to bark out signals at times.
But on the first play of the fourth quarter, with Pittsburgh possibly driving for a go-ahead touchdown, Rashard Mendenhall fumbled on a hit by Clay Matthews Jr. The Packers took over at their own 45.
Pittsburgh already had chopped an 18-point deficit down to four. The Steelers had a chance to make it a one-point game, but Shaun Suisham missed a 52-yard field goal.
Oddsmakers and most fans had anticipated the exciting Super Bowl finish. After all, these were the two defenses that allowed the fewest points in the league this season, and everyone says defense wins championships.
The biggest deficit overcome in a Super Bowl was 10 points, done by the Saints last year and by the Redskins against the Broncos in 1988.
Christina Aguilera got the game off to a rocky start by flubbing a line in the national anthem. The Steelers didn't do much better at the outset.
Green Bay jumped ahead 14-0 with touchdowns on consecutive plays: a 29-yard touchdown catch by Jordy Nelson, then Collins' interception, which featured a weaving return, a dive into the end zone and hip-swiveling dance toward the Pittsburgh sideline by B.J. Raji, the Packers' jumbo-sized nose tackle.
Rodgers stretched the lead to 21-3 by drilling a 21-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings. The ball whistled past safety Ryan Clark, with Jennings making a tough catch look easy just before getting popped by Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. That drive also was set up by an interception, a pickoff at midfield by Jarrett Bush.
Roethlisberger's miserable first half turned a little better at the end.
Taking over deep in his own territory after Jennings' touchdown, he threw a 37-yard completion to Antwaan Randle El. That started a seven-play, 77-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown catch to former Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward.
Also on that drive, Woodson hurt his collarbone diving for a pass. He spent the second half in street clothes, with his left arm in a sling, appearing quite uncomfortable. Driver was out with an ankle injury, and Shields hurt a shoulder.
With two defensive backs out at the half, everyone expected the Steelers to come out throwing in the third quarter. Nope. They gained all 50 yards on their opening drive on the ground, with Mendenhall bowling in from the 8 for the touchdown. He jumped up and flung the ball into the stands with a two-handed basketball chest pass.
The first Super Bowl held at $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium came following a week of ice and snow that caused all sorts of problems. Hopes for an uneventful gameday were ruined when several sections of temporary seats — holding about 1,250 people — were deemed unsafe.
They didn't get the record crowd Jerry Jones wanted. There were 91,060 paying attendees, including 3,000 outside, and another 12,159 "credentialed attendees," for a total of 103,219 — about the same as the population of Green Bay, Wisc.
Celebs were everywhere: from former President George W. Bush to baseball slugger Alex Rodriguez, who was seen having popcorn shoveled into his mouth by actress Cameron Diaz. Hollywood stars John Travolta, Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart, Mark Harmon, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas were in attendance, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson was seated near new Cowboys coach Jason Garrett; on Garrett's other side was Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.
Football stars were sprinkled around, too. The newest Hall of Fame class, chosen Saturday, took part in the pregame coin toss, with Deion Sanders handling the flip.