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Packers hold off Steelers in Super Bowl XLV

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Aaron Rodgers threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Green Bay Packers over the Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV and claiming the game's MVP honors in the process.

Packers 31 - Steelers 25
Pittsburgh was in it until the very end but ultimately could not overcome their own mistakes. Green Bay scored 21 of their 31 points off of turnovers to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay for the first time in a decade and a half.

GAME FLOW
Super Bowl jitters were evident as both teams struggled to find offensive rhythm early. Green Bay began hitting their stride first, though, turning to Jordy Nelson for big gains and eventually, a big 29-yard touchdown that put the Packers up 7-0. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, their deficit would grow on the very next play. Ben Roethlisberger was hit during his throw, sending the ball right into the hands of Packers safety Nick Collins, who dashed to the endzone for a 37-yard touchdown.

Pittsburgh finally got on the board in the second quarter when Shaun Suisham hit a 33-yard field goal. Following a three-and-out by the Packers, the offense retook the field trying to make it a one-score game. However, another mistake put the Steelers further behind on the scoreboard. A second interception of Roethlisberger set Green Bay up for another touchdown with Aaron Rodgers hitting Greg Jennings for a 21-yard score. The Steelers didn’t go in the tank, though, cutting the deficit to 11 points with a late eight-yard touchdown to Hines Ward.

Pittsburgh started the second half doing what they needed to do to get back in the game. After a great stop by the defense, the Steelers offense turned to the ground game, rattling off five straight runs, including an eight-yard touchdown by Rashard Mendenhall, to cut Green Bay’s lead to four at 21-17. The defenses played strong for the remainder of the third quarter and the score remained the same going into the game’s final fifteen minutes.

Unfortunately for the Steelers, the first play of the fourth quarter was yet another mistake for the Steelers. After only two fumbles in the regular season, Mendenhall put the ball on the ground and Green Bay recovered. Once again, Green Bay capitalized as Aaron Rodgers hit a wide-open Greg Jennings for an eight-yard touchdown, giving the Packers a 28-17 lead. Big Ben and the Steelers offense fought on, though, bringing the game within reach yet again thanks to a 25-yard touchdown to Mike Wallace. A two-point conversion by Pittsburgh brought the Steelers within three points with seven minutes to play. Green Bay pushed into the redzone looking to put the game away, but Pittsburgh’s defense held and forced the Packers to settle for a field goal. Big Ben and the offense stepped onto the field 90 yards from a victory and with two minutes to work with, but there was no more magic left. The drive fell short and the Packers celebrated as Super Bowl champions.

INJURIES
Rookie Emmanuel Sanders left the game with an injury and did not return. The Packers lost both Donald Driver and Charles Woodson for the majority of the game.

OFFENSE
On the ground:
Pittsburgh’s running game was a bright spot until Mendenhall’s untimely fumble. Mendenhall finished with 63 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown. Mewelde Moore contributed 13 yards on three carries and Isaac Redman added 19 yards on two carries. Roethlisberger had a strong game on the ground, putting up 31 yards on four scrambles.
Through the air: Roethlisberger was up-and-down as a passer, throwing for two touchdowns and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Roethlisberger finished 25-of-40 for 263 yards. Mike Wallace led the team with nine catches, 89 yards, and a touchdown. Hines Ward came up big with seven catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. Antwaan Randle El added 50 yards on two catches.

DEFENSE
Pittsburgh’s defense was forced to play against a Packers team that dedicated themselves to passing the ball as often as possible. The Steelers netted three sacks but couldn’t come up with a turnover and were beaten for three touchdowns through the air. LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, and Ziggy Hood each had a sack. Ryan Clark led the team with eight total tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Shaun Suisham was spectacular on kickoffs but was 1-of-2 on field goals as he badly missed a 52-yarder in the third quarter. Jeremy Kapinos had his best punting day as a Steelers, nailing three punts with an average of 51.0 yards with one downed inside the 20. Rookie Antonio Brown handled the majority of the return duties and had a long of 38 yards.

GAME BALL
Aaron Rodgers was the better quarterback on Sunday, winning MVP honors with 304 yards and three touchdowns. For the Steelers, Mike Wallace capped off a great season with a great Super Bowl, leading the team with nine catches.

NEXT UP
The offseason, where Pittsburgh will reload for the next run at a seventh Lombardi trophy.

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