The Best and Worst from the Super Bowl
According to espn.com
1. Lombardi Trophy goes home: Green Bay likes to call itself "Titletown." For a span of 42 years -- after victories in the first two Super Bowls -- there was only a single NFL title, at the end of the 1996 season. The Packers' victory sends the Vince Lombardi Trophy back where it belongs. Thanks to Aaron Rodgers' brilliance and Tramon Williams' great play on Steelers receiver Mike Wallace, Green Bay is "Titletown" again. Best rating: 9.o
2. Barbarians at the gate: For the last week, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been hyping his bright and shiny $1.2 billion stadium as the greatest Super Bowl venue -- ever. As Super Bowl XLV unfurled Sunday, some angry fans in the parking lot outside begged to differ. When the crowds began descending on Cowboys Stadium, four of the 10 gates were closed because of lingering ice issues from the two storms that hit North Texas last week. And that wasn't the worst of it; some 400 fans arrived only to discover the seats they had paid $800 for, uh, well, didn't exist. Yes, that has to qualify as the worst of Super Bowl XLV. Or, maybe -- be careful what you wish for, Mr. Jones -- ever? Worst rating: 9.5.
3. Big Ben's big "faux pass": When Packers defensive lineman Howard Green obliterated Steelers guard Chris Kemoeatu, it set off a chain of events that dramatically altered the game. Green penetrated the pocket and his hand crashed into Ben Roethlisberger's right shoulder pad as he released a pass toward Wallace. Safety Nick Collins easily fielded a woefully underthrown pass, with what was essentially a fair catch. He took it to the house for a 37-yard touchdown to give the Packers a 14-0 first-quarter lead -- those points coming in a startling span of 24 seconds. Ironically, Roethlisberger's pump fake drew Collins to the left sideline, in the vicinity of Wallace. Coming in, Roethlisberger was 10-2 in playoff games, 2-0 in previous Super Bowls. Worst rating: 8.6.
4. A real hero: We've all heard the heavy-handed comparisons between war and football. Not even close. One of the game's most sustained, sincere rounds of applause came when U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta was acknowledged for recently winning the Medal of Honor. He was the first living soldier who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan to receive America's highest honor given for valor. Best rating: 7.5.
5. It's A Fummmble! Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, who only fumbled two times in 347 touches this season, put the ball on the ground when he was sandwiched by Ryan Pickett and Clay Matthews. Green Bay middle linebacker Desmond Bishop recovered at the Packers' 45-yard-line early in the fourth quarter. The Packers ripped down the field and Rodgers' touchdown pass to Greg Jennings put Pittsburgh in a gaping 28-17 hole. Worst rating: 7.0
6. The perfect pass: On the Packers' second possession, Rodgers, spying nickel corner William Gay lined up opposite No. 3 wideout Jordy Nelson -- a delicious matchup if you are Green Bay -- feathered a beautiful ball down the field. Nelson reeled in with an equally gorgeous over-the-shoulder 29-yard catch and tumbled into the end zone. It was the game's first score, and it signaled that these inexperienced Packers just might be able to cope with the big stage. Best rating: 6.6.
7. Steel Curtain shredded: On third-and-10 from the Packers' 25 late in the game, Rodgers threw a dart that found Jennings running across the middle. Steelers corner Ike Taylor, leaping, just missed the ball with his left hand, but the play was good -- very good -- for 31 yards. Pittsburgh had to have a stop, and failed. The Packers kicked a 23-yard field goal to take a 31-25 lead with 2:07 left. Worst rating: 5.9.
8. Best screen available: Usually, they provide television monitors for the media in the auxiliary press box, but this year there was no need. The hulking $40 million, 600-ton Mitsubishi "Diamond Vision" HD screen suspended over the field at Cowboys Stadium is spectacular. It measures 160-feet wide (53 yards, or precisely the width of a football field) by 71-feet high, representing 11,393 square feet. There are 10,584,064 LED lights. The media section in Section 327 was a pretty fair seat, but there were times when you, almost unconsciously, caught yourself watching the game on TV -- like 150 million other Americans. Best rating: 5.6
9. Steelers misfire: It's a horrific cliché, but turnovers are usually the critical statistic in football games. The Steelers gave it up twice in the first half -- and the Packers promptly turned them into 14 points. Roethlisberger's second interception (by safety Jarrett Bush) allowed Rodgers to hit Jennings with another sweet ball for a 21-yard touchdown. Amazingly, the Packers held a commanding 21-3 lead. Worst rating: 4.3.
10. That's entertainment: "Glee" actress Lea Michele gave "America the Beautiful," a fresh, almost bouncy tempo. The Black Eyed Peas had a tight, arresting conceptual halftime show that was pleasing to the eye, along with a cast of hundreds, aerial hijinx and lots of glow sticks. Better than last year's 60-something rockers from England. And Christina Aguilera, despite a flub of the lyrics, still delivered a throaty-yet-stately acapella version of the national anthem in her second Super Bowl performance (she also sang during halftime at Atlanta in 2000). Best rating: 3.7.
Green Bay Takes Advantage of Steelers Turnovers to Win Super Bowl
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The ghosts of football past cast long shadows in Green Bay. But Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers emerged from them Sunday night with a career-making MVP performance against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers, leading the Packers to a 31-25 victory in a glitzy Super Bowl XLV battle.
It is the fourth Super Bowl victory for the Packers and a record 13th NFL title for a club that joined the league in 1921. Green Bay did something few teams have done in the past 45 years: stop the Steelers in America's premier sporting showcase. Pittsburgh still owns a record six Super Bowl victories, now against two losses.
The battle of beloved old-school NFL franchises was played before a crowd of 103,219 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, the nation's largest palace of pro football.
Green Bay grabbed control of the game with two touchdowns in the space of 24 seconds in the first quarter and then never trailed, despite a furious Pittsburgh comeback effort.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for an arching 29-yard touchdown pass over the head of cornerback William Gay for a 7-0 Packers lead. Gay provided tight coverage on the play, but Rodgers picked on him, and the left side of the Pittsburgh pass defense, for much of the night.
Pittsburgh took over on its own 7 on the next possession. And, on the very first play, defensive tackle Howard Green overpowered guard Chris Kemoeatu and got up in the face of Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone. The Steelers quarterback forced a fluttering pass down field and into the arms of roaming safety Nick Collins, who darted through a maze of potential Pittsburgh tacklers and into the end zone for a 37-yard score.
Gifted with a 14-0 lead, Rodgers and the Green Bay offense spent much of the night picking apart the league's No. 1 scoring defense. Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for 309 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 112.0 passer rating and easily outshined his Pittsburgh counterpart, Roethlisberger.
The Steelers got on the board with a 33-yard field goal from Steve Suisham early in the second quarter after a long drive stalled out in Green Bay territory.
But Big Ben threw a second first-half interception (Jarrett Bush) when he tried to force the ball into Mike Wallace. The pick set up Green Bay's third score, a 21-yard pass from Rodgers to Greg Jennings. The Packers now held a 21-3 lead and looked ready to put it in cruise control: no team in Super Bowl history had overcome a deficit of greater than 10 points.
But Big Ben and the Steelers were at their best when the situation looked hopeless. The Pittsburgh offense whipped up a seven-play, 77-yard scoring drive in just 1:45 to move within 21-10. Roethlisberger opened the drive with a 37-yard throw to Antwaan Randle-El and later connected with Hines Ward for 14 yards on third-and-10. He capped the drive with an eight-yard throw to Hines Ward with 39 seconds to play in the quarter.
Rodgers was brilliant in the first half, with two touchdown passes while guiding the Pack to a seemingly insurmountable lead. But the Packers suddenly struggled early in the second half. They failed to gain a first down on the opening drive and punted the ball away. Pittsburgh returner Antonio Brown was taken down at the 35, while a facemask penalty on Green Bay's Tom Crabtree moved the ball to midfield.
Then Pittsburgh unleashed the old-school smash-mouth football so often associated with the franchise, needing just five plays -- each one on the ground -- to suddenly pull within 21-17. The drive was capped by Rashard Mendenhall's eight-yard touchdown run up the middle behind a battered offensive line that lost starting center Maurkice Pouncey in the AFC title game and then lost right tackle Flozell Adams with an injury in the first half.
The Steelers stuffed the Packers again on the next drive and threatened to close the gap even further. But Shaun Suisham's 52-yard attempt sailed wide left.
Green Bay wrested control back on the first play of the fourth quarter, when Ryan Pickett and Clay Matthews combined to force Mendenhall (game-high 14 carries, 63 yards) to fumble. Desmond Bishop pounced on the loose ball, giving the Packers offense the ball at its own 45. Eight plays later, Rodgers connected for an eight-yard touchdown to Jennings -- the third scoring strike of the game for the Packers passer -- and Green Bay had a 28-17 lead with just 12 minutes to play.
Little-used Nelson emerged as an unlikely star for the Packers, in the tradition of Max McGee, the unexpected hero receiver who caught two touchdowns in Super Bowl I. Nelson nearly hauled in a 51-yard touchdown that Rodgers overthrew in the first quarter. He scored the team's first touchdown, and Rodgers teamed up with Nelson for a 38-yard gain that moved the ball deep into Steelers territory and set up the second Jennings touchdown reception.
Roethlisberger took control on the next drive, much like he did at the end of the first half: he completed six of seven passes to move the ball from his own 34, capping the drive with a beautiful long pass near the left sideline to speedster Mike Wallace for a 25-yard score. Randle-El raced around the left end for the two-point conversion, and Pittsburgh was within field goal range, 28-25, midway through the final stanza.
But Green Bay had one more score in it: marching from its own 25 to the Pittsburgh 5 with just over 2 minutes to play. Mason Crosby booted a 23-yard field goal to provide the final 31-25 margin. The Steelers and Roethlisberger were unable to recapture the last-second magic they displayed in their Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals, when a final 88-yard touchdown drive provided the final points in a 27-23 win.
Buckeyes Go to 24-0 with a Win at Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Jared Sullinger and still-unbeaten Ohio State didn't back down or let up.
Another unflappable performance by the 6-foot-9, 280-pound freshman left Minnesota coach Tubby Smith wondering what happened to his big men - and planning more time for his team in the weight room.
David Lighty scored 19 points, Sullinger had 18 points and 13 rebounds, William Buford and Jon Diebler made three 3-pointers apiece and the top-ranked Buckeyes beat No. 18 Minnesota 82-69 on Sunday.
"You can see the difference in experienced, physical players: They just kind of shoved us out of the way," Smith said.
Every starter for Ohio State (24-0, 11-0 Big Ten) scored 10 or more points to help stretch the second-longest winning streak in school history, creeping toward the record of 32.
Buford added 15 points, four assists, four rebounds and two steals, and the Buckeyes checked another opponent off the list in this most-challenging month. Up next is a trip to No. 19 Wisconsin on Saturday, and after a home game against Michigan State the Buckeyes travel to play No. 11 Purdue.
They have won 12 straight conference road games, dating to last season.
"We're never scared," Sullinger said. "Even on the road, or at home, we just keep playing basketball. That's what we do."
The Gophers are sorely lacking those floor leaders, particularly while senior point guard Al Nolen is out with a broken foot. Blake Hoffarber led Minnesota (16-7, 5-6) with 16 points, playing the second half with a limp and a brace on his left knee after bumping it on the court and hurting the bursa sac. He is playing out of position, though, and had four turnovers.
"We were just careless with the ball. Those are the kind of mistakes we can't have in a game like this, or in any game," said Austin Hollins, who started in place of Colton Iverson and finished with eight points.
Smith praised the performance of freshmen Hollins, Chip Armelin and Maverick Ahanmisi, but Iverson, Ralph Sampson III and Trevor Mbakwe combined for 12 turnovers in and around the paint. Iverson didn't score and had four fouls in 14 minutes.
"If our post men are going to turn the ball over 12 times, and that's where our strength was, I don't know what to do," Smith said.
Armelin had a career-high 14 points in 23 minutes, but Sampson went scoreless after a 14-point first half and five of Mbakwe's seven rebounds came before halftime. After losing at Indiana on Wednesday, the Gophers will probably fall out of the national rankings.
The Gophers made a late rally to come within three points in a loss at Ohio State last month, but this time they matched their season high with 19 turnovers and couldn't get close down the stretch despite a 10-for-20 performance at the free throw line by the Buckeyes. Sullinger, the target of plenty of bumping and scrapping underneath, was 2 for 8.
But that didn't matter, the way the Buckeyes dominated the pace and flustered the Gophers with their zone defense.
Sampson matched Sullinger before the break, but the slender junior lacks the thick freshman's strength and it showed as the game wore on. Near the midpoint of the second half, Sullinger slithered his way inside and muscled the ball up for a layup to draw the foul on Sampson. He missed the free throw, of course, but it was moot.
The packed Williams Arena crowd that was so loud at tipoff and in the early stages of the first half was much quieter later, hushed several times including when Aaron Craft's 3-pointer beat the shot clock and gave Ohio State a 61-46 lead with 8:10 left.
"Composure is something we hope stays with our program," coach Thad Matta said.
Here was another ominous sign for the Gophers, the Big Ten's worst free throw shooting team. They went 14 for 18 and still didn't make it game. They shot 51 percent from the field.
The conference's leading rebounding team was beaten 23-15 on the boards in the first half, and either Sullinger or freshman Deshaun Thomas seemed to get a hand on every miss.
Dallas Lauderdale had Ohio State's first six points of the second half. The 6-8 mean-looking shot-blocking specialist, the lowest scorer in Matta's seven-man rotation, included a violent two-handed dunk off an alley-oop inbounds pass in that stretch.
"It's just being confident in ourselves and in our system," Lighty said. "It's executing down the stretch and not getting rattled."
Lighty has played with six first-round NBA draft picks already in his college career, and he'll likely add at least one more to the list whenever Sullinger leaves. For now, this all-Ohio-grown group, except for the freshman Thomas from next-door Indiana, is chuggi the chase for a championship while also protecting this unblemished won-loss record.
"They can tell you we haven't lost, but they couldn't tell you how many we've won in a row. They have a good way about them," Matta said.