Now that the Green Bay Packers have won the Super Bowl and brought home the Lombardi Trophy home (the actual shiny one), I can’t help wondering if they can repeat. Yes, folks, it is never too early to speculate about next year.
It’s difficult for a team to go back to the Super Bowl year after year. That’s a good thing because it keeps things interesting for teams and fans alike. But teams have done it, and since the Green Bay Packers are a strong, young team, I can’t help wondering if they can return.
Here are some reasons why they will make it back.
The Packers were saddled with injuries this year, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Extra playing time for second string players helped secure a Super Bowl win after veterans Charles Woodson and Donald Driver got injured, and will help them next year as well. While you never want your key players on the sidelines, at least the Packers still have guys that can take up the slack.
The clock had barely counted down to zero before the usual talking heads were pontificating about… Brett Favre. Now, I’m a fan of Brett Favre. However, I tend to take a practical approach about what is sports-important at any given moment. I don’t believe it is unreasonable, in the aftermath of an excellent Super Bowl XLV, to want to hear a synopsis of the game, how it was played, the positives and negatives experienced by both teams, and accolades showered upon those deserving of them. Super Bowl MVP, Aaron Rodgers, tops that list. Yet, in the 48-hours since the end of the Super Bowl, I’m left with the impression that it’s more important for the alleged experts to talk about Brett Favre.
I’m left wondering if it will ever be possible for Aaron Rodgers, Super Bowl XLV MVP, to ever escape the gargantuan shadow of Brett Favre. Interestingly, the shadow is not cast by Brett Favre himself, instead it is cast by the sportscasters and reporters who seem unable or unwilling to focus on the hear-and-now. They choose to sully an amazing post-season run by the Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay Packers by continuing to focus on someone who had an abysmal season and wasn’t even part of the NFL playoffs.
Super Bowl XLV tied for the highest watched NFL championship game in history with Bowl XXI and for good reason: This was a great matchup. With all the talk of re-seeding and skunky teams in the playoffs, this game proved the right teams rise to the top and play to win. Here are three of the key moments that made this game great.
Packers Veterans Injured
Both the offensive and defensive hearts of the Green Bay Packers team, Donald Driver and Charles Woodson, both suffered injuries that sent them to the sidelines. This could have been a disaster. It could have meant the game was now The Steelers to lose. But I echo what I said in my Super Bowl prediction, the Packers have had key injuries all year and the backups stepped up. It happened again Sunday, and rather than have it be a disaster, it might have given the Packers that much more to play for.
Steelers Commit Three Rare Turnovers
It wasn’t just the fact that The Steelers coughed the ball up, it was the fact that the Packers capitalized each time by turning them into points. This was key because those types of moments with a team like the Steelers are very rare. Had they not made turnovers, the game would have been a lot closer and might even have a different outcome.
Clay Matthews Makes Key Fumble
A lot of hype was made about Clay Matthews and Troy Polamalu coming into the game, but both names weren’t called as frequently as they had been during the regular season. One reason for that was that Matthews was charged with a different play strategy, that of closely shadowing the movements of Ben Roethlisberger. But as the fourth quarter started, Packers linebackers coach told Matthews, “It’s time.” Matthews took that instruction and created a fumble by knocking the ball loose from Rashard Mendenhall. That fumble was recovered by Desmond Bishop, which then ended the game and gave the Packers the win.
Can they repeat? Bookmark us so you can get your season tickets for next season!
To the victor goes the spoils, the rings, the trophies, the “Got Milk” ads, the “I’m going to Disney World” exclamations and, well, considering it’s the Super Bowl winner/MVP we’re talking about, I’m sure Rodgers can get just about anything he asks for, especially in Green Bay. While those perks are great and all, there’s also another item Rodgers received for his Super Bowl MVP efforts which might be worth more to him than the rest of that stuff: his championship belt.
At different times during the season, Rodgers put on his imaginary belt as a way of celebrating key plays and touchdowns. Clearly, Rodgers knew it was all leading up to the biggest stage in football, if not all of sports, and when the time came to collect the belt, Rodgers delivered in spades. In fact, his performance was so belt-worthy, Rodgers was presented with a real belt, courtesy of Dana White and Chuck Liddell. He then reminded the world the belt is his when he accepted the Lombardi Trophy from Roger Goodell:
The Super Bowl is coming, ya’ll! And while we anticipate the showdown between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, we’re also reflecting back on past games. Which ones were the best? Which left the best memory in the mind of fans?
Here is my list. Feel free to argue or agree.
Super Bowl XXIII 49ers vs Bengals
I used to call Joe Montana “Cool Hand Luke” because the guy was never rattled on the field. Reggie White in your face? Doesn’t matter. Down by a gazillion points? No problem.
Montana would come in and without so much as breaking a sweat lead a team to victory. In this game, his coolness would put the 49ers ahead of the Bengals late in the game to not only win, but become the first NFC team to win it all three times.
Aaron Rodgers failed to get voted into the Pro Bowl this year, and while at this point he couldn’t have gone anyways (what with his first appearance in the Super Bowl and all), I contend that there are some good things about this “snub.”
It Helped Him Focus on Games and Winning
Last year at the beginning of the season Rodgers was asked what he wanted for the upcoming football year and he said he wanted to go to the Pro Bowl. He didn’t say: I want to win games for my team or I want the Packers to go all the way. Instead, he was focused on himself and his numbers.
You can’t blame the guy. We’ve all been focused on his numbers. He followed a legend and the natural tendency is to compare. The first year Rodgers started we heard about comparisons to Favre in almost every game. Each new announcing pair would weigh in, and we’d hear comparisons to his height, hand size, throwing motion, ability to read a defense, and lord knows what else.
The thing about stats, though, is that they don’t mean much. Big Ben had awful numbers in the game against the Jets, but he found a way to lead his team to victory. Wins are the most important stat.
What’s that about a sixth seed? The Packers blew out the first seed of the NFL playoffs, the Atlanta Falcons, yesterday with 48-21 win. Blow. Out. Packers dominated to the point where the announcers at the end of the game started talked about other teams and games. You know it’s bad when they do that.
Packers runningback James Starks fumbled on the first play of the game and the Falcons went on to capitalize with a touchdown. But that was the only time in the game the Falcons appeared to dominate. The rest of the day all went Green Bay’s way. Even when Atlanta had opportunities to capitalize, they didn’t take them. Perfectly thrown passes were dropped, defensive holes were huge, and it added up to a team who looked very different than they did during the regular season.
After two major defensive pass interference penalties against the Packers, it looked like the Falcons were coming back at the end of the first half to make it a game. But Tremon Williams intercepted Matt Ryan and ran it back 70 yards for a touchdown.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Falcons tried an on-side kick, but it failed to go the required ten yards. The play really summed up the entire game, because the ball never bounced their way and there was absolutely no interior pressure on Rodgers.
The Packers never even punted the entire game. They also set a record for number of points scored in a single playoff game.
Packers next take on either Chicago or Seattle, once again playing on the road. No matter, because did you hear the crowd noise during the Atlanta game? Packer fans travel well, and there will likely be even more fans at the NFC Championship game next week.
Not only is Aaron Rodgers quickly becoming a member of the NFL’s Elite Quarterback Club, leading his Packers to a 2-0 record thus far, he’s also a candidate to be a new character on the never-ending Street Fighter video game series. Or, perhaps he’s auditioning to play Ryu if Hollywood ever casts another live-action version. Observe: