Super Bowl 48  

 

Packers' Matthews grateful to end family Super Bowl drought

  • By Aron Angel and Matt Florjancic NFL.com
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Kathy Willens / Associated Press
The Packers' Clay Matthews won something that always eluded his NFL father and uncle: a Super Bowl.


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Clay Matthews had to wait just two years to win a Super Bowl, but not lost on the 24-year-old linebacker in the afterglow of the Packers' 31-25 victory over the Steelers on Sunday was how fortunate he is to be in this position so early in his career.

His father, Clay Matthews II, played 19 seasons for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons without winning a championship. Same for his uncle Bruce, a Hall-of-fame offensive tackle for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans.

"It means a great deal, obviously," the youngest Matthews said. "We haven't had too much success with the Super Bowl. Thirty-eight combined years between my uncle and my father. I'm two years in ... Super Bowl champion. So it means a great deal.

"We're going to enjoy this tonight. I'm just happy I was able to get the proverbial monkey off the Matthews' back."

Mathews is especially thankful to share this with his family.

"I got to see my mother and father out there," he said. "They're loving it, enjoying it. So much hard work goes into this. For them to be able to be a part of this is truly fantastic."

The celebration might not have happened had it not been for Matthews forcing a fumble on Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall after the first snap of the fourth quarter, a play Matthews said he knew was coming.

"It's really film work and preparation," Matthews said." I had a feeling that play was going to come. I was telling our defense to be prepared for it.

"I saw the play coming back my way. Fortunately, I was able to tell my (defensive end) what to do, and I was able to make the play. It was the right time."

Linebacker Desmond Bishop recovered the fumble, and eight plays later the Packers scored their third touchdown off a turnover.

"They were driving on us; we were able to turn it into points, which was the difference in the game," Matthews said.

Nelson's improbable journey

If you had told Jordy Nelson when he was a walk-on safety at Kansas State that he would lead his team with nine catches for 140 yards in a Super Bowl victory, he wouldn't have believed it.

"You always dream big," Nelson said with his one-year-old son, Royal, seated on his lap. "I guarantee there are kids all over the country playing in their backyards, emulating some great catch in the Super Bowl. It's such a long shot."

Nelson scored the Packers' first touchdown on a 29-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers in the first quarter, then was called upon time and time again after Donald Driver exited with an ankle injury.

"We go into halftime and all of a sudden we come out without Donald Driver, without Charles Woodson. Guys had to step up and play," Nelson said. "That's how it's been all year."

Nelson was ready. The Packers strategy was to spread out the Steelers' defense, and they didn't stray from that gameplan. Despite Driver's injury, the Packers ran the ball 11 times, compared to 39 pass plays.

"That's where we thought we had the (best) matchup," Nelson said. "Pittsburgh is a great defense. Their front seven is hard to do anything on. We thought our best matchup was on the outside, and it's just how the game went.

"We feel there's hardly any DBs out there that can match up with us one-on-one, whether it's four-on-four or five-on-five."

Nelson's numbers could have been even better, had it not been for a few drops. But he wasn't deterred, especially when he dropped what could have been his second touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Rodgers came back to Nelson on the very next play for a 38-yard pass to the Steelers' 2-yard line.

"If you play this game long enough, you're going to drop the ball. You've got to move on," Nelson said. "We're level-headed. We don't get too high; we don't get too low as a whole wide receiver corps. We weren't panicking at all when (Driver) wasn't coming back, we just said, 'All right, we've got to make some plays.' We knew it was going to be on us."

Emotional day for Wynn

It will be close to impossible to top this day for Packers second-year linebacker Jarius Wynn.

Just hours before kickoff, his wife gave birth to his second son at a local hospital -- an unexpected start to a memorable day that ended with his holding the Lombardi Trophy.

"It's a great feeling," Wynn, a sixth-round draft pick, said afterwards. "To get this win, and to have a child too, I'm just speechless."

Wynn was able to explain just how his wife came to give birth at a local hospital, despite not expecting until Feb. 16. Wynn was out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant next to the team hotel with his family -- his wife, three-year-old son, mother, cousins, and godmother -- when his wife felt something different.

"So she got up and went to the bathroom," Wynn said. "I told my mom to go check on her, and she said (my wife) had fluid come out of her." Her water broke, but "just a little bit," as Wynn described it. Yet Wynn, who had been through this once before three years ago, didn't panic. Instead of taking his wife to the hospital, he went back to the hotel for a team meeting. He didn't mention anything about his wife until the meeting was over, informing director of football operations Reggie McKenzie.

"He told me to stay right there," Wynn said. "When she got back to the hotel, they brought the ambulance and rushed her to the hospital."

Wynn stayed overnight, and his baby boy was born at 9:08 a.m. CT Sunday morning.

Wynn, who was released by the Packers just before the start of this season, and then re-signed Sept. 14, "embraced that moment" and still made it back for the next team meeting at 10:30.

Mother and baby are both doing well.

"I'm just glad it all worked out," a beaming Wynn said. "I'm so happy, I can't explain."

Total team effort

Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, one of Green Bay's defensive captains, watched as veteran defensive back Charles Woodson got knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a broken collarbone. It was another injury to an already depleted defense.

However, the Packers were able to navigate through that injury as smoothly as they had the previous 16 season-ending injuries during the season.

"We were not coming off that field without a ring for a guy like him (Woodson), a guy like Donald Driver, all of those guys," Hawk said. "It was a huge team effort to get here to do this thing."

Good Ben, bad Ben

In his third Super Bowl, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw two first-half interceptions, including one which was returned for a touchdown.

On the Steelers' third possession of the game, Packers safety Nick Collins intercepted Roethlisberger on a pass intended for Mike Wallace. After picking up a block from Matthews at the 9-yard line, Collins dove through three Steelers offensive linemen for the score and a 14-0 Green Bay lead.

"It was a tough game; there were probably a lot of throws I'd like to have back," Roethlisberger said following his first Super Bowl loss. "I feel I let the city of Pittsburgh down, my teammates and coaches, too ...

"I feel I let a lot of people down who stood up to fight."

Added coach Mike Tomlin, when asked about his quarterback's struggles: "It was a losing effort, just like mine. In some instances, it was dang good. In other instances, it was below the line, and that's one of the many reasons why we fell short."

A shot that fell short

The Steelers had trimmed the Packers' advantage to three points when Antwaan Randle-El caught an option pitch and converted a two-point conversion with 7:34 remaining in the fourth quarter. At that point, the Steelers felt they were in good position for a comeback.

"We did; we had the momentum," Randle El said. "They came out and made a real big play on third down up the middle. We got the ball back with two minutes to go and had a chance to win the game. That's what you live for. We had a shot."

No ring for Flozell

On their flight down to Dallas, the Steelers offensive linemen donned Michigan State jerseys in support of their teammate, former Spartan and Dallas Cowboy Flozell Adams. The 13-year pro spent the previous 12 seasons of his career with the Cowboys before joining the Steelers.

A loss was not the end Adams was looking for on his return trip to Texas.

"I'm upset, of course," Adams said. "We didn't come out with a win. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times."

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