Packers Bring Lombardi Home: Offensive Line and Defense Win The Day
The Green Bay Packers won their 4th Super Bowl last night over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and while it is easy to give MVP Aaron Rodgers all the credit I think two units really deserve recognition for the win last night, and that is the Packers offensive line and the Green Bay defense.
While you look at the numbers and you would say that the Packers offensive line gave up more sacks, pressures and hits than the Steelers offensive line, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The Packers offensive line continuously picked up the Steelers blitzes, and allowed Rodgers to throw the ball down field. If Rodgers checked down every time there was an overload blitz he might have never gotten sacked or hit in this game, but the Packers also might not have won. The Packers offensive line held the point of attack long enough for Rodgers to wait for his receivers to get open down the field, he might have paid a physical price, but it was worth it. Had the Packers offensive line not held up for as much as it did, my guess is you’d have seen the Packers have three turnovers and Steelers would be holding up the Lombardi trophy.
The other unit that isn’t getting near enough credit today is Dom Capers 3-4 defense. The Packers defense might have gotten on one sack, but they owned the offensive line of the Steelers (usually with even less blitzers). All you have to look at is the three turnovers and you will see just how great of a job the Packers coming up when it mattered most.
Late in the first quarter the Steelers were in the shadow of their end zone after a block in the back penalty on the kick-off. On the very next play Ben Roethlisberger went back to pass, and despite it being just a normal rush the pocket collapsed in front of him. Backup NT Howard Green just got under the pads of starting guard Chris Kemoeatu. Green drove him back into Roethlisberger and hooked the quarterbacks throwing arm. That meant the deep sideline pass to Mike Wallace was severely under-thrown and it fell into the waiting arms of safety Nick Collins. Collins made an impressive return and put up 7 more points for the Packers.
A couple drives later the Steelers had cut the lead to 14-3, and just stopped the Packers on a 3 and out. Despite an early penalty the Steelers were driving and had just entered Green Bay territory when their defense came up with another big play. Roethlisberger tried to hit Wallace again for a short pass over the middle when backup corner back Jarrett Bush read the play and stepped up and made the interception. Four plays later the Packers were in the end zone once again making it 21-3.
In the 2nd half the Steelers had cut the lead to 21-17, and seemed to have momentum on their side. Their defense had shut the Packers down the entire 3rd quarter, and the offense finally seemed to be in rhythm (not to mention the Packers had multiple injuries on defense). Then as the 4th quarter began, the defense stepped up once again. On a 2nd and 2 from the GB 33 yard line, the Packers got great penetration and had two tacklers in the backfield wrapping up running back Rashard Mendenhall, including All-Pro Clay Matthews Jr. who his helmet right on the ball popping it out. Linebacker Desmond Bishop recovered the fumble and returned it to the Green Bay 45. Three minutes and eight plays later the Packers were once again up 11, and that proved to be insurmountable for Pittsburgh.
While I’m not trying to take away Aaron Rodgers accomplishments, and I believe he made the most of his opportunities against an elite defense, I don’t think he is the main reason there will be a parade in Green Bay this week. The Packers got 21 points off turnovers, including the pick 6. And the other two touchdowns, the Packers only had to go half the field. Twice the Steelers looked poised to score, and the big play ability of the Packers defense, set up the offense to put up points. Without the Packers dominating defensive performance the Packers don’t come close to winning this game, and without the protection of the offensive line, the Steelers defense would have easily ruled the day.