The Vince Lombardi Trophy is returning to Title Town. The most injured team in the NFL this season is ironically the team that stands alone at the end. In a game where they lost cornerback Charles Woodson and wide receiver Donald Driver of the second half, the Green Bay Packers once again proved to be the most resilient team in the NFL. Led by a 304-yard and three-touchdown performance by MVP Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers outlasted the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to win Super Bowl XLV.
The Packers jumped out to a fast start in the first quarter. On the team’s second drive, Rodgers connected with wide receiver Jordy Nelson three times, including a 29-yard strike for a touchdown to put the Pack up seven early in the game. The following possession lasted just one play for the Steelers when Ben Roethlisberger threw an ill-advised pass into coverage, resulting in an interception by safety Nick Collins for a touchdown. The quarter ended with Green Bay holding on to a commanding 14-0 lead.
Pittsburgh finally got on the board early in the second quarter when kicker Shaun Suisham connected on a 33-yard field goal. Defense would take over a majority of the quarter, including another interception thrown by Roethlisberger, this one picked off by cornerback Jarrett Bush. Taking advantage of another forced turnover, Aaron Rodgers located wide receiver Greg Jennings down the middle for a 21-yard touchdown pass with a little over two minutes to play. The time left on the clock proved to be too much for Roethlisberger, who authored Pittsburgh’s first touchdown drive of the day, finding Hines Ward for an eight-yard touchdown before the half. Had momentum been seized by the Steelers?
That appeared to be the case, as things tipped in favor of the Steelers in the third quarter. Charles Woodson and Donald Driver were lost for the game with injuries, and Pittsburgh returned to the smashmouth football they’re known for. On their first possession of the second half, they used six straight run and scramble plays, capped off with an eight-yard touchdown trot by Rashard Mendenhall. Both defenses held steady for the rest of the quarter, leaving Pittsburgh with possession and a four-point deficit heading into the fourth and final quarter.
Just when we thought Pittsburgh was ready to take control of the game, Green Bay forced another crucial turnover. With the ball on the Packers’ 33, Clay Matthews put a helmet on a running Mendenhall, causing him to fumble. Once again, the Packers made the best out of their opportunity. Rodgers capped off a 55-yard drive by finding Jennings for this second touchdown of the day. The Packers created a little breathing room, but it was quickly erased by a 66-yard touchdown drive by the Steelers, Mike Wallace finding the endzone this time around. Receiver Antwaan Randle-El also converted the two-point attempt, pulling Pittsburgh within a field goal.
Green Bay answered the Pittsburgh drive with a score of their own. Kicker Mason Crosby completed a 75-yard drive with a 23-yard field goal, putting the Packers up by six points. More importantly, they milked 5:27 off of the clock, leaving Roethlisberger just enough time to attempt another Super Bowl game-winning drive. Things looked good early for Pittsburgh, as Ben found tight end Heath Miller for 15 yards and a first down. He followed up with a five-yard pass to Hines Ward, but failed to connect on his next two. With fourth and five, and the Super Bowl on the line, Roethlisberger looked to connect with Mike Wallace downfield, but the pass was broken up and Green Bay was able to kneel out the clock for the win.
Take a look at what some of the participants of Super Bowl XLV were wearing on the field for the big game. You can purchase all of The Packers’ Super Bowl Locker Room gear at Eastbay now.
The Nike Speed TD 3/4 is the shoe Aaron Rodgers won to win his first Super Bowl.
Ben Roethlisberger signals a play in the Nike Air Zoom Super Bad II.
Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle El celebrates in the Reebok NFL Molded Burner Speed.
Donald Driver reacts to a first down catch in the Nike Super Speed TD.
Chris Kemoeatu tries to make a touchdown-saving tackle in the Nike Air Zoom Merciless D.
Troy Polamalu expresses disappointment in the Nike Super Speed D.
Nick Collins returned an interception for a touchdown in the Nike Zoom Vapor Carbon Fly.
Brett Keisel tackles James Starks wearing a Steelers colorway of the newly released Nike Air Zoom Alpha Talon.
Hines Ward scores a touchdown in his trusty Nike Throwback TD Player Exclusive.
Jordy Nelson tries to make a catch in his Reebok cleats.
Mike Wallace is off to the races in the Nike Zoom Vapor Carbon Fly.
Greg Jennings helps seal the game wearing Nike’s Super Speed D 3/4.
Charles Woodson holds up the Lombardi Trophy while wearing the new Reebok Super Bowl Locker Room Hat.
Clay Matthews and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers embrace being champions in the Official Locker Room T-Shirt and Hat by Reebok.
images via Yahoo
words & images_Zac Dubasik
A few weeks back, following Nike’s launch of the Air Zoom Alpha Talon, I had a chance to go on a tour of the spectacular Cowboys Stadium – which just happens to be the site of this upcoming Sunday’s Super Bowl. While you’ll get to see the Steelers and Packers face off on Sunday, you might not get a look at what goes on behind the scenes. Here’s a tour inside the stadium where these teams will be fighting it out for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
View from the luxury suites – The luxury suites are some of the most exclusive seats in the stadium.
Outside Cotton Bowl Office – Cowboys Stadium is the new home to the Cotton Bowl, and occupies an elaborate office located inside the venue.
Inside Cheerleaders Locker Room – There will be no mistaking lockers inside this locker room, thanks to the near-life-size images above each cheerleader’s area.
View From The Press Box – While press seating is often at midfield at other venues, this prime area is reserved for fans at Cowboys Stadium, which is why the press box is found in the corner.
View From Dr. Pepper StarBar – Even when games are sold out, fans have the opportunity to enjoy an affordable, standing-room-only experience from the StarBar.
Lockeroom Detail – Rare woods, imported from Africa, give a feeling of luxury that you could only expect for the home team, in the world’s most elaborate stadium.
After 20 weeks of NFL football, the stage for Super Bowl XLV has been set. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, two of the most storied franchises in NFL history, will meet at Cowboys Stadium in two weeks for the right to hold up the Vince Lombardi Trophy. What did each team do to get to this point? Here’s a recap of yesterday’s Conference Championship action.
Green Bay Packers – 21, Chicago Bears – 14
Billed as a renewal of one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers made the trip to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears. The match-up pitted two of the league’s best young quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, against each other with the prospect of making that first trip to the Super Bowl hanging in the balance. Unfortunately, the game didn’t end with both of those men competing against each other, which may have been the deciding factor in who took home the George Halas Trophy.
The opening minutes of the game were dominated by the Packers. Led by Rodgers, Green Bay used a seven-play, 84-yard drive to score on the game’s opening possession. Rodgers was a perfect 4-4 passing on the drive and sealed it with a one-yard touchdown run on a naked bootleg to the left. On the ensuing Chicago possession, Cutler and the Bears struggled to manufacture much offense, resulting in a punt from Brad Maynard. This would be a running theme for the remainder of the half.
Coming out of the locker room at halftime, the Bears faced a 14-0 deficit and were aware of the fact that something needed to change. However, they couldn’t have expected the type of change that occurred. After suffering a knee injury in the first half, Cutler attempted to lead a drive to open the third quarter, but once again failed to produce. This led to him sitting out the rest of the game, leaving the Bears’ Super Bowl hopes in the hands of backup quarterback Todd Collins.
Though it seemed impossible, Collins played worse than Cutler did in the first half. The 16-year veteran completed none of his four pass attempts, which led to him being benched in favor of third-stringer and three-year pro Caleb Hanie. While Cutler and Collins struggled, the Bears’ defense did a great job of keeping the team within a two-score striking distance. Chicago’s hopes to make a trip to Dallas rested on the shoulders of the relatively inexperienced quarterback.
Hanie wasn’t perfect, but he seemed a lot more ready to play than the two quarterbacks in front of him on the depth chart. In Chicago’s first possession with Hanie at the helm, the Bears found the endzone for the first time that day. The score made it a 14-7 game, with plenty of time left to play. The Bears’ defense would follow with two more stands, giving Hanie opportunities to put more points on the board.
With a little over six minutes to play, Hanie did just that. Unfortunately the points went on the board for the Packers after nose tackle B.J. Raji intercepted a pass inside the 15-yard line for a touchdown. Hanie would make another rally attempt, throwing a touchdown pass to Earl Bennett to once again pull Chicago within a score, but would ultimately fall short by throwing another pick in the final minute of the game. Rodgers and the Packers would kneel out the remaining time to punch their first ticket to the Super Bowl since 1998.
New York Jets – 19, Pittsburgh Steelers – 24
It was another ‘Tale of Two Halves” in the Steel City where the red-hot Jets challenged the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC Championship. After disposing of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the Jets sought out to make it a trifecta by sending home Steelers hurler Ben Roethlisberger. On the line for “Big Ben” was a chance to become the fifth quarterback in NFL history to win three or more Super Bowl rings.
Pittsburgh started the game firing on all cylinders, putting the Jets in a deep hole that they’d spend the rest of the game trying to climb out of. On the game’s first possession, the Steelers used a 15-play, nine-minute drive to score the game’s first touchdown on a one-yard Rashard Mendenhall rush.
The Steelers’ dominance continued in the second quarter, where Pittsburgh added a Shaun Suisham field goal and Roethlisberger touchdown run to extend their lead to 17-0. On the following possession, Mark Sanchez fumbled after being sacked by Ike Taylor. Cornerback William Gay recovered the loose ball and took it to the house to give Pittsburgh a 24-0 lead. The Jets were able to muster up a late-half field goal to put three points on the board, but the game appeared to be firmly in the grasp of the Steelers.
During halftime, Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan told his team that the game was still winnable if they could execute in the second half. The pep talk inspired the team, and they emerged from the locker room playing like an entirely different team. Like Pittsburgh did to start the game, the Jets found the endzone on their first possession of the third quarter when Sanchez found wide receiver Santonio Holmes for a 45-yard touchdown pass. Nick Folk’s extra point put New York within two scores.
New York’s defense would continue to stop Pittsburgh from adding to their lead. The next two Steeler possessions resulted in an interception and punt respectively. However, the Jets weren’t able to take advantage of the opportunities created by their defense. The corresponding Jet possessions ended in a punt and goal-line stand on the one-yard line for the Steelers. Pittsburgh looked well on their way to another AFC Championship.
However, the New York prayers were answered by the football gods when Roethlisberger fumbled the snap on the ensuing possession. Jets defensive end Mike DeVito tackled the quarterback in the endzone to net a safety for the Jets and possession of the ball. New York followed the safety with another touchdown drive, Jerricho Cotchery finding himself on the receiving end of a four-yard pass from Mark Sanchez. The touchdown put the Jets down just five points with a little under three minutes to play.
In most situations, NFL coaches would run the ball four straight times to milk the clock, then punt to the other team and force them to score another touchdown. Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin took a more aggressive approach, putting the game in the hands of Roethlisberger. With third and six on the New York 40, Roethlisberger threw a 14-yard pass to rookie Antonio Brown to seal the game. The Jets’ valiant comeback effort was stopped short, and the Steelers are on the way to their third Super Bowl in six years.
images via Yahoo