Super Bowl 48  

 

As they have all season, unsung Packers make big plays

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Packers came into the Super Bowl, heck into the playoffs, with 15 players on injured reserve. They leave Cowboys Stadiums as world champions. And they leave with 44 players under the age of 30. The Packers could very well be on the verge of a dynasty.

The quarterback played a phenomenal football game. Aaron Rodgers' third-down conversion to Jordy Nelson for 38 yards early in the fourth quarter to set up his 8-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings won him the MVP award.

Having Nelson play such a key role in this game showed the Packers' resiliency when it comes to personnel. I was wondering what was going to happen when Donald Driver went down, because the Packers needed to throw to win the game. Nelson took his game to another level.

The Packers' spread offense is almost unstoppable, especially on those slant plays. No surprise, that big play to Nelson was on a slant. The Steelers blitzed nickelback William Gay on that play, and Rodgers made them pay. The Packers had previously misfired on a few of those slant plays. If they had connected on those, they could have scored three or four more touchdowns.

When the Steelers became desperate and went to six- and seven-man pressure schemes, Rodgers was unflappable. He almost made the same error he did in the NFC Championship Game when he was intercepted by Brian Urlacher in the red zone, but he showed his growth and maturity by taking the sack instead of throwing into coverage. He threw the touchdown to Jennings on the next play.

I can't go any further without talking about the unsung heroes on Green Bay's offensive line. Tackle Chad Clifton was phenomenal all day against James Harrison and anybody else the Steelers sent as a blitzer. Josh Sitton played like an elite guard. Rookie Bryan Bulaga also came through. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau put Harrison and LaMarr Woodley on right tackle Bryan Bulaga and a running back late in the game, and they responded beautifully.

Three of the Packers' touchdowns were directly related to turnovers, which their underrated defense caused. It's one thing to cause turnovers, it's another to capitalize and score touchdowns.

The defense also had to make adjustments when Charles Woodson went out late in the first half with a broken collarbone. I have to hand it to two defensive backs, Jarrett Bush and Pat Lee, for filling in. Both had to play a lot more than expected because of Wodson's injury, and each came through with critical sacks.

I wrote in my first blog post of the day, that I was surprised that the Packers deactivated LB Erik Walden to go with Frank Zombo, even with the ankle injury. Zombo had a huge sack in the third quarter, which forced the Steelers to attempt a 52-yard field goal, which Shaun Suisham missed. Just another Packer who stepped up when he had to.


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With all of these players who have been coming forward, it just shows how good the coaching is in Green Bay and how they get all 53 guys ready to play. Most of the time, they had to.

I picked the Packers to win the Super Bowl back in August. I had some doubts during the season, but they were phenomenal and will probably be the favorites to win it all next year, too. Like I said, looks like we might have a dynasty on our hands.

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