The Diffference: Big Ben And Steelers Made Big Mistakes; Rodgers And Pack Didn’t
The difference in The Big Game was The Big Mistakes.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers made too many. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers hardly made any.
That’s why Green Bay brought the Lombardi Trophy back home on Sunday. Pittsburgh out-gained and out-muscled the guys from Wisconsin, but they didn’t out-execute them. The result was a 31-25 victory in one of the more suspenseful and entertaining games in Super Bowl history.
Roethlisberger threw two interceptions, one returned 37 yards for a touchdown by Scott Collins, and Rashard Mendenhall, the most effective runner on the field, coughed up the football at a pivotal point in the fourth quarter.
And that’s all the edge Rodgers needed. The league’s rising quarterback star threw enough of those whistling darts of his into the Steelers’ secondary to complete 24 of 39 for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns. And those numbers would have been far more impressive if not for a handful of drops, including two that could have gone for touchdowns.
More important, Rodgers was not intercepted, and he coolly led the Pack on a time-consuming, five minute-plus, fourth quarter drive that ended in a field goal and left Big Ben and the Steelers with too many yards and not enough time, or time outs, to claw back.
Give Pittsburgh credit. Down 21-3 early, it could have quit. But it is too good and too proud of a team to do that. It battled back to a point where, with all the momentum, it seemed on the verge of taking the lead until Mendenhall’s fumble.
The Packers persevered in this game the same way they had all season. Injuries had wiped out a big hunk of their roster along the way, and when, on their biggest night, Charles Woodson, their defensive captain and leader, and Sam Shields both went down in the first half, they seemed in imminent danger of getting beat.
But Mike McCarthy’s players reacted well, even when relative unknowns Pat Lee and Jarrett Bush had to take over in the secondary.
Roethlisberger did his best to pick on them, but he didn’t have the depth at wide receiver that Rodgers enjoyed. Even when Donald Driver, the Pack’s most experienced receiver, limped off in the first half, the Packers’ quarterback found Greg Jennings for two touchdowns and Jordy Nelson for 9 catches and 140 yards and a TD, although young Mr. Nelson did have his share of drops.
Much was made before the game of Roethlisberger’s two previous Super Bowl victories, but people forget that in the win over Seattle, the Steelers prevailed despite a poor performance by Big Ben. Again, on this night, Roethlisberger was outplayed.
Rodgers’ quarterback rating was 111.5, compared to Ben’s 77.4, and that turnover difference of 2 to 0 was huge.
Happily, this was a night when the game overshadowed all the flashy Super Bowl accoutrements. Christina Aguilera messed up the lyrics of the National Anthem, the Black Eyed Peas were something less than scintillating at halftime and the much anticipated flood of TV commercials were, for the most part, flat or way over the top.
Young Mr. Rodgers, stepping up to star in his first appearance on sports’ biggest stage, was a deserving MVP for a young Green Bay team that should make its way back to the Super Bowl more than a few times this decade.
And somewhere, deep in the shadows of Lambeau Field, the ghost of Vince Lombardi must be smiling at that prospect today.
— STEVE BISHEFF