The end of the football season stings a little more for most fans than the normal climax. After all this could be the last football for years if Roger Goodell’s 18 game stubbornness derails labor negotiations over this summer. 2011’s Super Bowl thus took on greater significance, as two of the league’s foremost franchises battled for supremacy in Texas. As always, legacies were on the line, particularly for the quarterbacks. The shadows of greats past lurked over both teams as they tried to create their own legends.
In the end, it was Green Bay’s history combined with Aaron Rodgers’ coronation as a new NFL great that carried the day. As always, Green Bay was limited on offense, not even pretending to try and run on the vaunted Steelers front 7. Rodgers took plenty of shots from James Harrison and company and saw his receivers drop several on target passes that snuffed out drives and kept points on the board. Like Green Bay gunslingers past, he stood his ground, firing bullet after bullet into tight spaces vacated by Steelers blitzers. 300 yards and three touchdowns later, the Packer play-caller had his first Super Bowl MVP trophy, something his predecessor in Green Bay never acquired. Rodgers’ persistent excellence helped the Pack put up 30 plus on the Steel Curtain, ensuring he’s the latest QB to be sainted in the eyes of cheeseheads everywhere.
As for Ben Roethlisberger, as in the Steelers’ past Super triumphs, his play was not solely responsible for the outcome. He kept Pittsburgh in the game with some timely drives. A pretty lob to Mike Wallace and rollout to Hines Ward on TD passes exemplified the improvisational skills that make him one the league’s best QBs. But he mixed in moments of weakness, including a terrible throw on a first quarter pick six to Packers safety Nick Collins. That gaffe put Pittsburgh into a hole from which they never really recovered, as they were forced to abandon their commitment to establishing the running game and Rashard Mendenhall. Ultimately, Roethlisberger didn’t do enough to win.
The Packers defense deserves credit too, particularly considering their talisman Charles Woodson went down early. While they didn’t shut down the Steelers by any means, they harassed Big Ben enough and created turnovers, including a key Mendenhall fumble in the third quarter when it looked like the Steelers threatened to complete their comeback. They also laid the hammer down in the fourth quarter, shutting down the Steelers two minute offense to seal the victory.
While the game was close, and well played, we won’t remember this game for its last second heroics or high level quality of play. In fact, we’ll probably remember it more for the exact moment America collectively realized the Black Eyes Peas suck. As a Super Bowl, it underwhelmed. No doubt Green Bay fans could care less—they’re too busy ordering their championship belts. It’s good to be the king.