“You have an appreciation for it (winning a Super Bowl) when you have been doing it for 25 years and this is your first one. It probably hasn’t totally sunk in you because we’ve had our head down here going strong for a long time. When we made that last play on fourth down, I can’t tell you the feeling we had.” – defensive coordinator Dom Capers
“I knew I did something and I knew it was pretty severe, but I went in and took the X-rays and as soon as I looked at it there was no question. It broke me down, but I’ll deal with it. We won so it’s all good.” – cornerback Charles Woodson
“We overcame some adversity, even within this game. It kind of defines our season. We are a team with a certain dynamic that a lot of teams don’t have. What separated us from the other 31 teams was that dynamic and that will to overcome adversity.” – wide receive Greg Jennings
“I think we saw it (Rodgers’ potential) … a year before he was starting. Down here in Dallas there was a game against the Cowboys. Brett (Favre) went out and Aaron came in. You could see then he had the poise. He was calm and collected, and I think you kind of caught a glimpse then of what kind of player he was going to be.” – tackle Chad Clifton
“We were able to get a couple turnovers. Those in the first half were huge and we hung on and we won. I wouldn’t have wanted to play a six-quarter game.” – General Manager Ted Thompson
“I’m enjoying it just like those young guys are enjoying it. One thing I can say, we can get back again. That’s what we’re looking forward to. When you win one, you want that second one.” – wide receiver Donald Driver
“You know me, I hate to lose. Like I said, especially when you feel like you’re letting down guys that really stepped up today in a big way, so it’s really hard. It’s no fun.” – Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
“He (Rodgers) put the balls in some tight places and he made some really good throws. He played great. Their defense outplayed our defense. They were able to make plays on defense. We didn’t.” – Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.
“I just got hit and the ball came out. It just happened, and it should not have happened. When you turn the ball over like we did, you put yourself in a bad position to win the game.” – Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall
“We had injuries, they had injuries. We had a plan, they had a plan. We tried to execute ours, they executed theirs better than ours.” – Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin.
“It was like they were a hair faster than we were all night and that’s why they won the game. They played better than we did.” – Steelers safety Ryan Clark.
“I was like here we go again (Steelers last drive) but it didn’t happen. We were scrambling a little bit … and we lost a little bit of time to set up.” – Steelers Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Charles Woodson beamed as he cradled the Lombardi Trophy in the middle of the Green Bay Packers’ chaotic winning locker room.
His team had had to hang on for its life, and do it without him, but it is the NFL champion for the 2010 season.
The Packers did it despite the debilitating loss of Woodson, their defensive captain, and another key player, cornerback Sam Shields, for most of the second half.
But as they had for the impressive stretch run that led them to this game, the Packers showed toughness and resourcefulness to hold off the AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers in a 31-25 win in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium.
“You fight all season, a lot of things go on, it’s all for this moment,” Woodson said. “There are no games next week, there’s not another game in two weeks. This is it, and the last team standing is the Green Bay Packers. It’s everything I wanted it to be.”
The victory means the NFL team with the most championships adds another for its trophy case. The Packers, who finish this season with a 14-6 record, have won four Super Bowls and 13 NFL titles, the latter four more than the closest team, the Chicago Bears, who have nine championships.
Five years ago, General Manager Ted Thompson hired the relatively unknown Mike McCarthy to coach his team, and now the two have won their first Super Bowl, with a talented young roster that could keep this team in championship contention for the next several years.
“We’re going to enjoy this one,” McCarthy said. “It’s a great day for the Green Bay Packers organization, and we’re glad to bring the trophy back home, particularly the (for) people of our organization who have been there years and know the true meaning of what the Lombardi Trophy means not only to Green Bay but the National Football League. It’s a very proud moment right now, and I just can’t say enough about that football team.”
The Packers won this championship on the backs of their defense, which came into the game ranked No. 2 in the NFL in fewest points allowed but suffered a run of injuries late in the second quarter, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was voted the game’s most valuable player.
The defense came through with three huge plays: Two first-half interceptions, by safety Nick Collins that he returned 37 yards for a touchdown and 14-0 lead, and another by backup cornerback Jarrett Bush that set up the team’s third touchdown; and a second half fumble forced by linebacker Clay Matthews and recovered by linebacker Desmond Bishop that stopped a Steelers’ charge in its tracks and maybe saved the game.
“That’s how it’s been all season,” defensive end Cullen Jenkins said. “(Defensive end Ryan) Pickett and Clay came up with that play for the fumble and our offense went down to score, that right there was the biggest swing in the game.”
The Packers were reeling when the teams changed ends for the fourth quarter, just before Matthews and Pickett sandwiched Steelers halfback Rashard Mendenhall and dislodged the ball.
Woodson had left the game late in the first half because of a broken collarbone that ended his night, and Shields, their fast-ascending rookie nickel cornerback, had missed the entire third quarter with a shoulder injury.
Pittsburgh had scored to cut the Packers’ lead to 21-17, and it seemed only a matter of time before quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would torch defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ short-handed secondary and take control of the game.
But five plays after the fumble, Rodgers hit receiver Jordy Nelson for a 38-yard gain to the 2-yard line, and two plays after that the Packers had regained control with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings that put them up 28-17 with 11:57 to play.
“It was one of those deals where we were going to have to find a way to take the ball away,” Capers said of playing without Woodson for the second half and with Shields out for all but a few plays.
“A lot of our game plan went out the window, our man coverage stuff. We played more zone and fire zoned in the second half.”
The Packers also got another playoff strong game from Rodgers, their 27-year-old quarterback who appears ready to join the game’s elite players. He finished with a passer rating of 111.5 points, completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards, and had three touchdowns.
It was clear in that fourth quarter that with the secondary short-handed, Rodgers was going to have to put up some points with a receiving corps that was missing Donald Driver, whose first-half ankle injury knocked him from the game. Rodgers did.
He converted two huge third downs on that touchdown drive after the interception, a 12-yard pass to James Jones and the 38-yarder to Nelson. And then after Pittsburgh had answered with a quick touchdown, Rodgers took the Packers on a long drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal by Mason Crosby that put them up 31-25 with only 2:07 to play.
“With Aaron Rodgers, we put the game on his shoulders,” McCarthy said.
Rodgers’ performance, and the offense’s as a whole, were noteworthy for what they didn’t do as for what they did. Rodgers’ didn’t throw an interception, and the Packers, who had only 11 called runs on the night, didn’t lose a fumble.
“The big thing we said to the offensive guys when we started our preparation (for this game),” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said, “this was our sixth playoff game under coach McCarthy, and offensively we’d never played a game where we didn’t give the ball away. We said whatever we do we have to play this game without turnovers.
"That’s the one thing we did, we didn’t turn the ball over. We weren’t perfect, we should have been better on third down, dropped a couple balls, had a couple sacks. But you know what? We didn’t turn the ball over, and that was the difference in the game.”
Still, for all they did, the Packers’ field goal with 2:07 left meant the Steelers still could win with a touchdown, and they had the quarterback in Roethlisberger who could pull it off.
With Woodson and Shields on the sidelines, the Packers would have to get the stop with backups Bush and Jarrett Lee on the field, and they did. On a fourth-and-5 from the Steelers’ 37, Roethlisberger threw to his best receiver, Mike Wallace, on a stop route. But cornerback Tramon Williams broke up the pass.
With 49 seconds left and the Steelers down to one timeout, the game was over and the Packers knew they were champs.
“I never won a high school championship,” Pickett said, “never won a college national championship. So to win a Super Bowl in Green Bay, the best fans, the best place to play, words can’t describe the way I feel.”