ARLINGTON — Mike McCarthy knew the exact moment when the Super Bowl journey began.
“It started the minute after the Arizona loss last year in the playoffs,” said McCarthy as he basked in the glow of Sunday’s Super Bowl victory. “I was at peace after that game because of these players. They were excited about what we had and they knew they could do this. This journey started then.”
It wasn’t always smooth, McCarthy admitted.
“It went differently than we planned but we never blinked,” said the Packers head coach who saw several of his season-starting players go down with injuries.
It was the same storyline here Sunday night when veterans Charles Woodson and Donald Driver were injured in the first half and were unable to play in the second half.
McCarthy said it was an emotional Woodson who attempted to spoke briefly to his teammates at halftime.
Leading 21-10 at halftime, McCarthy steeled his team for a second-half battle.
“We knew this was going to be a heavyweight slug match,” he said, “and we had to keep chipping away.”
McCarthy refused to be drawn into any discussion about the departure of former Packers quarterback Brett Favre that led to the ascension of Aaron Rodgers.
“This has nothing to do with it,” he said. “Brett Favre was a great quarterback but this was a passing of the torch. This is about coming through on the biggest stage. I can’t say enough about our football team.”
McCarthy said a key factor in the game was the absence of any Packers turnovers.
“We put this game on Aaron Rodgers’ shoulders,” he said. “It was tough when Charles (Woodson) and Donald (Driver) went down but guys stepped up. We knew it would come down to the wire. But we were going to throw the ball.”
McCarthy admitted he was impatient for the game to start after going through the two-week lapse after the NFC championship game.
“I could see the energy building Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” he said. “The night before the game, we just wanted to (keep) that confidence.”
It has been a memorable rise for McCarthy, a surprise choice as Packers head coach in 2006 who led his team to the NFC championship game his second season, only to lose to the New York Giants.
He and General Manager Ted Thompson had to withstand criticism over the Favre departure, which was followed by a losing season as Rodgers took the helm.
But the 2009 season included a return to the playoffs and the 2010 season began with Super Bowl expectations among many Packers fans.
It ended in glory.
“It’s a great day for the Green Bay Packers and the Vince Lombardi Trophy is finally going back home,” he said.