Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl XLV "Pre-Review": Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay

1st Quarter

Green Bay kicks the ball into the end-zone for a touchback, meaning Pittsburgh will start at the 20 yard line.

That one sentence settles 13 prop bets, and forces a quarter of the audience to simultaneously barf half of their beer burgers 95% of the way to a full-fledged hurl, stopping only at the edge of infamy, and swallowed without incident.

Before the aftertaste settles in, the Steelers are forced to punt after 3 plays net 3 yards.

Pittsburgh punts.


Budweiser encourages us to call-in sick to work tomorrow through clever subliminal messages designed to create a day after the Super Bowl holiday. The message is clear when Donald Trump “fires” a supervisor who did not attend the office super party at the secretary’s boyfriend’s three-story mansion located next door, instead deciding to call the police. The chief shows up, and who is it other than the Donald himself.

After hearing the drunken half-hearted pre-determined laughter, I proceed to barf-hurl.

Green Bay takes over at their 29 yard line.

Aaron Rodgers and the Pack move the ball with some success through the air, opening some holes for the running game.

After Troy Polamalu disrupts a third down pass attempt, Green Bay kicks a 36 yard FG with 8:11 left in the quarter.


Dr. Pepper convinces us that a diet cherry version of this already flavorful beverage tastes just like the original, assuming you believe Venus Williams’ skimpy body suits are the same as no body suit at all. The images are too compelling to ignore. I love Dr. Pepper. I am now convinced, however, that Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper is the best soft-drink ever made.

Pittsburgh takes over at the 20 yard line after another touchback.

The Steelers gain some traction while Rashard Mendenhall steamrolls for 27 yards on 6 rushes.

After some short passes to Hines Ward and Heath Miller, Pittsburgh finds themselves at Green Bay’s 8 yard line.

The Packers defense tightens up, and Clay Matthews chases Big Ben down on a third and goal pass attempt. The Steelers kick a FG, tying the game with 1:03 left in the quarter.

End of 1st: Green Bay 3-Pittsburgh 3

2nd Quarter

Green Bay continues their steady, consistent march down the field. Rodgers finds John Kuhn for a 24 yard screen pass to put the Pack at the Steelers’ 26 yard line.

A couple of runs for short gains put Green Bay in a third and long situation.

With 10:45 left in the half, James Harrison gets the Steelers’ first sack while causing the game’s first turnover by clubbing the ball out of Rodger’s hand.

Ziggy Hood recovers.

During the commercial break, Joe Buck makes a derogatory comment about Pam Oliver’s outfit. This humorous observation somehow finds it way on the air in parts of the country.

While Mr. Buck escapes this embarrassing moment unscathed, Troy Aikman’s reputation takes a dive as his response will go down in Super Bowl history lore, surpassed only by Janet and Justin’s epic episode during half-time of SB XXXVIII.

Joe Buck: “…talk about a Whiskey Sour! (followed by a high pitch, sharp giggle)”

Troy Aikman: “I prefer Buttery Ni??les! (followed by a whole-hearted, breathtaking gasp of a laugh)”

Pittsburgh scores a TD on a reverse pitch to Hines Ward who passes to a streaking Mike Wallace with 7:33 left in the half.

Green Bay struggles to gain yards and punts after gaining one first down.

Leading 10-3, the Steelers get Mendenhall rolling.

After a play-action pass to Heath Miller puts Pitt on Green Bay’s 23 yard line, Roethlisberger connects with Ward in the middle of the end-zone for a 17-3 lead with 4:20 left in the half.

Neither offense can advance the ball as the half comes to an end.

Halftime: Pittsburgh 17- Green Bay 3

3rd quarter

Green Bay’s Sam Shields returns the second half kick for a TD.

Cowboys Stadium suddenly transforms from the site of the biggest circus in the world to the home of a championship FOOTBALL GAME.

Pittsburgh hopes to get Mendenhall rolling. A few short gains move the Steelers from their 33 yard line to Green Bay’s 37.

On first and 10, Antwaan Randle El takes a quick screen pass down the sidelines for what looks to be a momentum changing big play.

As he fights for extra yardage and a touchdown, Charles Woodson comes from behind and swipes the ball out of Randle El’s grasp.

B.J. Raji recovers the loose ball after hustling a down a quarter of the field, never giving up on the play.

During the commercial break, nachos and cheese are consumed at a record pace. I wash mine down with Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper.

The defenses step up as neither team can sustain a meaningful drive.

After exchanging punts, Green Bay looks to level the game. On first down from their 22 yard line, Rodgers finds Greg Jennings across the middle of the field after a superb play action fake.

The catch and run brings the Packers to the Steelers’ 35 yard line with 2:02 left in the third.

With Pittsburgh’s defense on their heels, Brandon Jackson is able to grind the ball inside the 15. This allows a play action pass to Kuhn, who rumbles and stumbles in for a game-tying TD with 0:49 left in the third.

End of 3rd: Pittsburgh 17-Green Bay 17

4th quarter

The party continues, but the game itself starts to rear its ugly head.

Even the most nonchalant fan understands what is taking place on the field.

With 15:00 left until history is made, we receive a report from none other than Pam Oliver.

Visibly upset and a tad shaken, Oliver gives us insight into her interview with Coach Mike Tomlin between quarters.

Pam (sporting a beige/yellow dress with green buttons along with a St. Patrick Day green and beige scarf): I spoke with coach Tomlin, and he says that in order for the Steelers to win the game, they are going to have to outscore the Packers.

Pittsburgh gets the fourth started with a healthy dose of Mendenhall. His ability to not only find space, but bully his way through would be tackles, is taking a toll on the Packer’s defense.

His running also allows Big Ben to connect with Heath Miller in the middle of the field on play action passes.

After milking 6:09 off the clock, and knocking on the end-zone door, the Steelers run out of steam when Clay Matthews gets his second sack of the game at the 24 yard line.

The Steelers settle for the 41 yard FG, taking a 20-17 lead with 8:33 left in the game.

Green Bay’s offense, on the sidelines since the end of the third quarter, looks a little rusty while two plays net 0 yards.

The next play, however, is a complete reversal of fortune. On third and 10 from the 23 yard line, Aaron Rodgers reads a zone-blitz from Polamalu, who is picked up in the backfield by Brandon Jackson, which allows Jennings to get past the corner and in front of the safety. The connection nets 14 yards and gives Packer Nation a reason to cut some more cheese.

With the considerable weight of Wisconsin on his shoulders, and images of a smirking Brett Favre piercing through his subconscious, Aaron Rodgers leads the Pack on a memorable drive.

Trying to protect a three point lead, the reeling Steelers defense tries one more blitzkrieg, but the poised Rodgers escapes the initial pressure and rolls toward the sideline.

After gathering himself, he finds a wide open James Jones on the opposite sideline for an 18 yard TD and a 24-20 lead with 2:19 left in the game.

The Steelers, and Big Ben, find themselves 77 yards away from football euphoria. The setting is familiar.

Setting up in the shotgun formation, the Steelers connect on a couple quick button routes.

The clock continues to click as Pittsburgh is in no-huddle mode.

Facing second and five from the 48 yard line, Big Ben pump fakes to Ward and switches his body to face a streaking Mike Wallace. Wallace is blanketed by the Pack defense, which forces Ben to check down to Miller in the middle of the field. As he sets to rifle the ball down the field, he senses pressure from his new buddy, Matthews. Able to elude his grasp, Big Ben buys more time by spinning out of the pocket. As he heads toward the left sideline, he directs Ward toward the corner of the end-zone. Unable to gather himself, he must throw a dart across his body. However, he doesn’t realize that Matthews’ motor didn’t stop running.

As he prepares to release his desperation ‘Hail Mary’, Clay Jr. collides into Roethlisberger, this time leaving no doubt about the outcome while forcing and recovering a game-sealing fumble. The replay reveals that Big Ben may have permanently damaged his shoulder, unfortunately.

While there is no significant injury to speak of, the city of Pittsburgh feels the pain of coming up short in the biggest game of the season.

Final Green Bay 24-Pittsburgh 20


Cheese heads across the country celebrate as Aaron Rodgers is cast into Green Bay Packer legendary status, while Clay Matthews, Jr., gets the last lock.

Notable stats:

Green Bay

Rodgers- 24-34, 278 yards, 2 TD 0 INT

Jennings- 6 catches 79 yards
Jones- 3 catches 56 yards, 1 TD
Kuhn- 7 catches 49 yards, 1 TD

Clay Matthews- 8 tackles, 2 sacks, FF, fumble recovery


Roethlisberger- 19-35 221 yards, 1 TD 1 INT

Ward- 5 catches 99 yards, 1 TD, 1 passing TD
Wallace- 6 catches 87 yards, 1 TD

Mendenhall- 24 rushes 103 yards

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