Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts late in the fourth quarter as the Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in the NFL Super Bowl XLV football game Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Maybe karma had nothing to do with the Green Bay Packers holding off the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV on Sunday night.
Maybe they were merely the better team, the smarter team, the more resourceful team.
But it was difficult to pull for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- who quietly and patiently lived in Brett Favre's slimy (as it turns out) shadow -- against Ben Roethlisberger, the Neanderthal Steelers QB who was suspended for the first four games of the season for being twice charged with sexual assault in a span of two years.
This is not to paint Rodgers as some saintly figure and Bad Boy Ben as some unrepentant sinner. The Steelers signal caller respectfully served his league-mandated suspension, then deftly led his team to his sport's ultimate game. Nor was he ever convicted of anything. Maybe he really was guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Twice.
But there remained a sense throughout the season that Roethlisberger was getting much more of a free pass than he might have, and that he often seemed less than sincere in his apologies for his behavior.
Maybe that perception is fair and maybe not, but it has hung around, despite neither charge sticking.
And as the Steelers kept adding improbable victory upon a improbable victory in the playoffs -- Roethlisberger always at the center of the story -- it looked like he might win his third Super Bowl in six years, an accomplishment to rank him among the best postseason QBs ever.
And when the Packers were forced to settle for field goal on their final drive, leaving the Steelers within a touchdown of victory, almost every one of the 103,219 inside Jerry's (Jones) Joint probably believed Roethlisberger would win it again.
But not this time. He threw short. He threw high. He ran out of downs before he ran out of time.
So the Packers won their fourth Super Bowl without the benefit of a single playoff game atop Lambeau Field's frozen tundra.
And Rodgers' three touchdown passes justifiably earned him the MVP trophy, something Favre never achieved.
This Super Bowl wasn't only about Rodgers, of course. The Packers were a study in toughness all season long. Six opening-day starters were lost for the season with injuries. Fifteen players hit the injured reserve at one time or another.
And that was before Sunday, when both team captain Charles Woodson and veteran receiver Donald Driver went down.
Yet Green Bay somehow soldiered on, building an early 21-3 lead that barely held up.
It may have been one of the few times in Super Bowl history that the game actually seemed to eclipse the commercials, which -- to slightly alter a line from an old Saturday Night Live skit -- could have used more Clydesdales.
Instead the sturdy horses -- so long a staple of Super Bowl ads for Budweiser -- were barely seen this time around. Such a pity.
There was also a major controversy involving roughly 1,200 tickets that were slotted for temporary bleachers that were deemed unsafe early Sunday. The NFL agreed to triple the refund for the $800 tickets -- and all but 400 of the fans were seated elsewhere -- but that would hardly cover the transportation costs for the fans who were denied seating.
Still, the commercials aside, this was a game worthy of its hype, especially where Rodgers and the Pack were concerned.
It might even sell a few more tickets to the Broadway play "Lombardi," a tribute to late Packers coaching great Vince Lombardi, whose name is also on the Super Bowl trophy.
Indeed, it was all enough for Fox analyst Howie Long to say of the Pack, "We might be seeing the start of a young dynasty."
Added Terry Bradshaw: "Especially when they've got a good quarterback who turned into a great one."
Said Rodgers, "This is a great group of men we put together. A lot of character. Glad to share this with them."
Now if they could just add more Clydesdales to next year's Super Bowl.
Contact Mark Wiedmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6273.
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...
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