As the research analyst for NFL Network's NFL RedZone, Elliot Harrison watched all 267 games in the 2010 season. We asked him to rank the 20 most memorable.
Even when the Steelers were trailing 21-3 in the second quarter, you knew one of the league's storied franchises would make a game of it. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, the NFL's most storied franchise was too good. The Packers might arguably be the greatest organization in NFL history, and the way Green Bay won Super Bowl XLV only furthered its case.
Aaron Rodgers continued his torrid pace through the playoffs, throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns en route to the MVP. While "A-Rodg" continued the excitement of the 19th game on our list of the 20 best from 2010, the Steelers' heart made it good and worthy of inclusion.
After Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings with touchdown strikes, Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense found itself in an 18-point hole. But before you could say "Rashard Mendenhall bin Laden tweets," the Steelers completed a seven-play, 77-yard drive to make Super Sunday competitive going into half.
Early in the second half, Roethlisberger and Mendenhall took advantage of good field position. The latter ran for 33 yards on the first play of the drive, and then scampered eight yards to make the score 21-17. Game on.
That's when Clay Matthews made the play of the day. With Pittsburgh on the move once again, the second-year linebacker who looks like an extra in "Braveheart," played like Conan the Barbarian. Matthews stripped Mendenhall and gave the ball back to Rodgers and crew. That turnover led to another Jennings touchdown catch, and ultimately the deciding points.
Once again, Mike Tomlin's team wouldn't lay down, pulling within three points. However, the Packers answered with a key drive that resulted in a pivotal field goal, and then showed that they are far from just an offensive team. Green Bay's defense -- the brainchild of one-time Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dom Capers -- rose to the occasion, stopping the Steelers on four downs before they could even cross midfield. Game over.
Play of the game
The Matthews strip of Mendenhall has to be the play of the game. Pittsburgh had taken the mojo back from Titletown, until the big strip.
You want to see textbook safety play? Look no further than Nick Collins' pick-six in the second quarter. The veteran's theft alone might have been reason for him to be included among the top 100 players of 2011.
What ultimately served as Pittsburgh's final play of Super Bowl XLV, the fourth-down last-gasp throw, was a head-scratcher playcall -- or at least decision -- from offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Roethlisberger. A jumpball on a hook route to your home-run threat Mike Wallace? Really?
Why is this game No. 19 of 2010?
Super Bowl XLV was an entertaining game featuring two of the league's signature franchises. It was "Titletown USA" vs. "Sixburgh." This contest was all about stakes and provided drama by coming down to the final drive.
Why not higher?
While this Super Bowl had great coaching, great players and some decent drama, it was far from being as memorable as some other matchups on our list ... it might not have even been the best Steelers or Packers game of the season.
There were lulls in Arlington, Texas last February when it looked like the Packers were going to run roughshod over Dick LeBeau's defense. Throw in the fact that a potentially triumphant final drive ended with a Terrible Towel-wimper, and even Super Sunday only makes it to 19.