Saturday, February 12, 2011

No Cigar: Steelers Lose Super Bowl XLV


It was a heck of a year for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the preseason, many picked them to finish 3rd in the AFC North. Despite not getting a single vote for Coach of the Year, Mike Tomlin is an early candidate for Coach of the Decade. He took a 9-7 team on the verge of collapsing with the trading away of Santonio Holmes and suspension of Ben Roethlisberger, and made them champions. This team exceeded our wildest expectation by going 12-4, winning the AFC North, then reaching Super Bowl XLV.

It was a great season from this team. We're just happy to have been along for the ride. We can't stress enough how proud we are to be Steelers fans today, even if the result wasn't quite what we had hoped for.

The Super Bowl has reached the point of "spectacle" where the lead-up to the game is so over-blown, you're sitting there pounding Iron City's at 5pm and you realize there's still an hour and a half until gametime.

Bill O'Reilly interviewed Barack Obama. It was okay. It would have been better if Obama had given him Sweet Chin Music, hit him over the back with a chair, then given the D-X sign. It wouldn't be that much of a changeover for the news networks to go from calling him "The Comeback Kid" to "The Heartbreak Kid."

Christina Aguilera sang a nails-on-the-chalkboard version of the National Anthem. Autotune does wonders for people, apparently. No clue how she fared on all the Anthem prop bets.

When we finally got around to coin toss time, I was quick to remind everyone I was with that the NFC had won 13 consecutive coin tosses and the Steelers were 1-6 in Super Bowl coin tosses. Well, the trends didn't change. Green Bay won the toss and deferred.

 First Quarter

Green Bay's special teams struggled this season, and the Steelers exploited it on the opening kick, with AB bringing it back across the 35.

Coming into this game, we all knew if the Steelers could get a lead early, we'd be able to put the Packers on their heels. But in typical Steelers fashion, we stumbled out of the gate and had to punt. Green Bay gave us a window of opportunity when they muffed the punt, but we missed an opportunity to fall on the loose ball.

To be honest, that last sentence was a microcosm of the whole game. We had a window of opportunity, but couldn't capitalize on it.

Rodgers comes out gunslinging and finds a mismatch with Donald Driver on Anthony Madison to convert a 3rd down and get Green Bay near midfield. The Steelers dodge a big bullet when Rodgers overthrows Nelson by a hair on 3rd down.

The Steelers come out with a mission to establish the run and Raise Some tears off two great runs to put us in 2nd and 1. A false start sets things back and Ben overthrows Heath down the seam on 3rd down.

Rodgers gets things rolling with the combo of passes to Nelson and runs with Starks. You have to hand it to the Packers. They got Rodgers comfortable with short 3-step drops to get him into the game. On 3rd and 1 at the 29, rather than going for the first down, Rodgers goes over the top and hits Nelson over Willie Gay. Gay had pretty good coverage, Rodgers just made a better throw.


On the first play from scrimmage, Ben looks deep for Wallace but his arm gets hit as he's throwing and the ball floats in the air. Nick Collins easily picks it off then dashes through the Steelers and dives into the end zone.

Son of a bitch.


I'll be honest. I wasn't worried after the Packers scored their first touchdown. But if you weren't at least a little worried after the pick-6, you need your Yinzer card checked. The Steelers come back out pounding the rock, but a holding call on Kemoeatu sets things back. The drive looks ready to stall out, but Vicklisberger takes off and scrambles for 18 and the first down.

Second Quarter

Ben keeps things rolling with a pass to Manny Sanders but the drive stalls out when Arians calls a play with all 3 and 4-yard routes on 3rd and 7. Suisham gets us on the board.


The defense answers the call of needing to lock things down. Farrior brings Driver down short of the sticks on 3rd down, forcing a 3-and-out.

Ben digs the offense out of a 1st and 20 hole with a big pass to Wallace. EL Yeah comes up big-time with a 3rd down catch to get us near midfield and give the offense a spark. But two plays later, Ben has a slant route to Wallace jumped by an underneath corner, his second pick of the game.

The Packers did what all great teams do: convert turnovers into points. In four plays, Rodgers drove them down the field and into the end zone, the touchdown coming on a 21-yard rocket to Jennings on a post route.


Ben comes back with a fire under his ass. He slings one to Randle El down the left side and he makes a great grab and moves us across midfield as the clock hits two minutes. Off the break, Ben goes play-action and takes a shot for Wallace over the top, but the two can't hook up. Ben and Hines find their rhythm, converting a 3rd down when Ben threads the needle. Hines moves the sticks again, getting us down inside the 10. Ben rolls the no huddle offense and finds Hines open in the corner of the end zone for the score.


Green Bay runs it out to go into the half with a two-score lead.


The Black Eyed Peas than The Who were last year? In some weird Tron-infused halftime show, the guests were better than the lead act. It would have been better to just see Slash tear it up on his guitar for 20 minutes.

Next year's halftime show should just be Jimmy Page.

Third Quarter

The defense comes out of the half playing inspired football, holding the Packers to a 3-and-out, putting the ball back in our hands.

The offense came out determined not to shy away from the running game, even though the Packers were down two DBs. But the Packers run defense wasn't stellar either. Mendenhall breaks one down the sideline then bowls over a cameraman. Redman comes in and rips off two good runs to move us inside the 10. Raise Some comes back in and does the rest, plowing through defenders to get us back in the game.


We blast Renegade at my Super Bowl party during the commercial break. The Steelers defense wasn't about to let up. Not only do they force another 3-and-out, but Harrison sacked Rodgers on 3rd down to cap things off.

You had to believe the Steelers were back in it. The offense was rolling and the defense was locking it down. The Steelers start out in great field goal position, and move across midfield when Moore converts a 3rd down. Ben goes to Hines again across the middle to get us into field goal range. Ben gets sacked on 3rd down, seemingly knocking us out of field goal range. Tomlin opts to go for the 52-yard field goal rather than pinning the Packers deep. Suisham misses it badly to the left.

After a pass to Nelson to move the Packers into Steelers territory, the defense locks it down again and forces a punt. Big-time stand there to keep us within 4.

The Steelers work it to 3rd and 2, but Ben badly overthrows Wallace and we're forced to punt. Not the kind of drive you want when we're down by 4. Leaving the Packers that much breathing space is like playing with fire.

Luckily, the defense was in absolute lockdown mode in the 3rd quarter and forced another 3-and-out, coming after Willie Gay broke up a pass for some receiver on 3rd down. Green Bay challenged it for some reason, but to no avail. Masthay booms a 57 yard punt, but a penalty on the Packers allows us to get a rekick and his second effort isn't nearly as good, giving us the ball on the Packers 41.

Raise Some picked up 8 on first down as the quarter expired.

Fourth Quarter

Down by 4 with just over a quarter to play and the ball in Packers territory. The defense was a brick wall. The offense was 33 yards from paydirt and you had the feeling that if we got a lead here we wouldn't give it up.

However, the offense just couldn't respond. Mendenhall has the ball knocked out on a sandwich hit and Green Bay recovers.

The momentum doesn't completely slip away until Rodgers converts a 3rd down with a pass to James Jones. The Packers receivers start to show signs of nerves, dropping a few balls that Rodgers puts right on the money. But on 3rd down when it counts, Rodgers is able to hit Jordy Nelson for a 38-yard gain to take it all the way down to the 2. Woodley keeps his sack streak alive, but Troy gets beat on the next play on an inside-out move by Greg Jennings and the Packers go up by 2 scores.


With 12 minutes left, the Steelers needed two scores, and needed points fast. Ben and Wallace find a groove and hook up 3 times to march us down to the Packers 40. Arians kept going to the Wide Receiver screens, and despite the Packers being down 2 DBs. As a result, Wallace was averaging somewhere around a measly 7 yards per catch. Ben finds Hines doing his thing in the middle of the field to get us to the 25 and suddenly there's hope. On the next play, Ben pumps the short route and the corner bites, allowing Ben to lob one to Wallace who beats the safety to the goal line.

Down by 11, we have to go for 2. Arians goes to the well and busts out the triple option with Ben faking a handoff then pitching the ball to El Yeah who darts to the end zone.


Things looked good for the Steelers after a first down sack, but Rodgers found Jennings down the seam in the middle of the defense for a huge gain on 3rd down. The Packers keep attacking and drive it down inside the Steelers 10, taking 5 1/2 minutes off the clock and getting 3 more points when the defense holds.


Two minutes left. Down by 6. Ball in Ben's hands. After the 3 turnovers, you really couldn't have asked for much more than this. Ben looked ready to roll after a big pass to Heath down the seam then a pass to Hines for 5. But after two incompletions, we were staring at 4th and 5. Everything hinging on this one play, Ben looks for Mike Wallace and throws it a touch high...the defender gets there at the same time as the flag...ball falls to the turf. Game over.

After looking at the replays, it was a good no-call on Pass Interference. Defender got there after the ball.

Barely. But it was after.

Rodgers kneels it out, and the Packers are Super Bowl Champions

2010 Season over.

It was a hell of a ride. Great season Steelers.

Final Thoughts
  • As I said earlier this week, obviously we came up short of our goal, but that's no reason not to be proud of what this team accomplished this year.
  • Thanks to everyone who read the blog, commented, left facebook messages, and talked to me on Twitter this year. It's been a pleasure to share the season with all of you. 
  • Hopefully the NFL gets their labor shit together so we can have football next year.

No comments: