Packers Celebrate Super Win
By Jay Sorgi (preview by the Associated Press)
Catch "Return to Titletown," the official Packers Super Bowl celebration
Click on the video link to see TODAY'S TMJ4 coverage of the Packers Super Bowl win moments after the final gun, and click here to review the Packers' 31-25 win over the Steelers.
ARLINGTON, Tex. - The Green Bay Packers are back home to celebrate their 13th world championship, and will land at about 1:40 p.m. in Green Bay to embrace fans ready to celebrate their world title.
Like many of us have been over the last day, the Packers themselves have been in party mode.
It's a party that would continue Monday when the Packers were scheduled to land in Green Bay.
"I'm sure it will sink in when we get off that plane in Green Bay."
The win may not have sunk in yet for Aaron Rodgers, and neither might his MVP award after a whirlwind day planned for him after the Super night to remember.
Rodgers' team was in trouble during the second half, but he said he always had faith.
"It just goes back to my preparation," said Rodgers on Monday.
"If I put in the time and the proper preparation, I feel like I should be successful."
Super Bowl successful means trips to Disneyworld and David Letterman before getting that Super Bowl ring, but there's one problem.
"I actually missed the little table there to get sized up."
Now, the next task at hand - winning back to back rings.
"I'm always looking for challenges. I think the challenge now goes to repeating," said Rodgers.
That's something that has only happened once in the last 17 years, but Rodgers believes it's possible again, and again.
"The core, the nucleus of this team is intact to make runs for the next four or five years."
But Coach McCarthy warned of the pitfalls of world championships.
"Success is the hardest part of this business. That's something we're going to have to manage as a football team."
Ted Thompson: "I'm just so very, very proud of the guys on this team...they never quit believing."
Mike McCarthy: "It was the great resolve of our football team. It was a very emotional halftime. We had some bumps....but a tremendous effort. Coach Lombardi's trophy is finally coming home."
Aaron Rodgers: "Give credit to our defense. This is a great group of men."
9:05 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive :50
13th world championship!
8:57 p.m. Steelers' 3rd Drive 2:07
Defense, you've daggered an opponent three times in this incredible run. One more time and you're 13-time world champions.
And the Steelers have to go 87 yards because of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
1st-10, 2:00, PIT 13: Miller with a completion for a first down. 15 yard gain. A safe pass right into the spot where Woodson would be. Shields also out and Pat Lee in.
Next, another completion, shorter, Ward. Tick, tock, tick, tock, 1:19.
3rd-5 at PIT 28: two stops and you're world champs.
Big Ben overshoots Wallace. One more!!!!
4th-5 at PIT 28: here we go.....off Wallace! SUPER BOWL WINNING DAGGER!!!!
8:45 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 7:34
If this drive ends up 75 yards downfield, the collective blood pressure in this state will drop by 200%.
ARod. Sacked by Hood. -3, but could have been much worse without a good Rodgers step-up.
Wayne Larrivee: "Boy they need some offense here."
3rd-5 at GB 30: HUGE. MONSTER. GIGANTIC. Colledge false start.
3rd-10 at GB 25: HUGE. MONSTER. MORE GIGANTIC.
AROD - YES!!!!!!!!!! JENNINGS!!!!!!!!! A monster throw across the 50! 27 yards and a collective sigh of relief in the entire state of Wisconsin.
Biggest 3rd down conversion in 14 years.
Starks for 14 yards! Another monster first down. Confidence rises as time dwindles. Under five minutes.
You must get a touchdown. A FG gives the Steelers too much life.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Lovely.
AROD - JONES! A comeback pattern for a first down. Inside the 10. Only negative: clock stops. But still, points are better than time.
Larry: "Gotta finish this drive, Wayne."
3rd-goal at 5: must get in end zone. Give Steelers almost no hope if you do.
ARod - off of Nelson's hands. He did not just drop another one. Well, that was good coverage. Madison, the dime back, helped out.
Crosby, do your job. 23 yards. Big. Very big.
8:33 p.m. Steelers' 2nd Drive 11:57
Now, the game will come down to the front seven of the Green Bay Packers. They must put the game away. Send a message on this drive to start.
Wallace makes a first down catch in Green Bay territory to the 46. Such a catch means an eight-point lead is impending.
Bush with a HECK of a blitz forced a bad incompletion. Would have been nicer to have a sack, but it's like chopping down a redwood. Every chop helps.
Wallace on a screen...uh oh. Across the 35. More first down turf for Pittsburgh. More uh oh's.
HOLDING! Thank you, Foster, for hog-tying Jenkins, and putting Pittsburgh out of field goal range.
Wallace stopped by Bishop at the 40. Pittsburgh loves this WR screen with Wallace, but the Packers' pursuit is all over it. Pittsburgh could be setting something up.
Uh oh. open was Ward. He's been wide open a bunch of times.
3rd-4 at GB 26, and in field goal range. Need a sack. Not just a stop. A sack.
Wallace. TD. Ball game again. Shields/Collins beat. Wide open.
8:25 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 14:50
ARod....JONES! First down! He dropped it earlier, then makes a huge diving catch. Schizophrenic, but we love the good side.
No-huddle Rodgers. Try to get the defense tired. Bad for bloggers, good for Packers.
It's incredible. The Packers have won playoff games, won games all year, both ways.
ANOTHER DROP, JORDY!!!!!!!!!! Four drops in this second half.
3rd-10 at PITT 40: ARod - NELSON! BIG CATCH!!!!! GOAL TO GO! Talk about redemption.
AROD! YES!!!!!!!!!!!! JENNINGS!!!!!!!!!!! Insurance, baby!
8:23 p.m. Steelers' 1st Drive Continued from 3rd Quarter
Just absolutely reflective of this whole journey.
They got it done so far. 15 more minutes and you're world champions. But you have to make the stand of your lives.
FUMBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Matthews caused it! DESMOND BISHOP!!!!!! HUGE RECOVERY! That was the break they needed.
8:20 p.m. Steelers' 3rd Drive :22
Mendenhall gets 20% of the way to the end zone. Shields back in.
8:09 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive :47
That killed Green Bay's field position. 88 yards for the insurance they desperately need.
All the longer for Green Bay to drive and kill the clock while expanding the lead. Gotta think bright side here.
ARod - two incompletions. Uh oh. This is getting really bad. The field position war goes to Pittsburgh if they fail here.
3rd-10 at GB 12: YES!!!!!! Swain! Ball came loose, recovered by Packers' Jennings. WHAT? Incomplete
THROW THE RED FLAG!!!!! Three steps after the catch, then it's stripped, ball hits his leg, then the ground.
The problem: McCarthy's challenging the wrong thing, saying that Jennings recovered the ball before it hit the ground. He won't win that one.
Had he challenged Swain not making the catch, he would have won that challenge. And a time out goes away, too.
8:08 p.m. Steelers' 3rd Drive 2:23
Wayne Larrivee: "This has been the story of the season, overcoming injury."
3rd-2 at PITT 21: what a three-and-out would do here. Would be big time. REALLY big time.
Wallace with a timely drop to help the Packers out. Credit Williams with the HUGE decking.
BIG BIG stand for Green Bay.
8:03 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive 4:29
ARod...Nelson. Yes. First down turf. Every pass completion for a first down keeps the momentum moving. It also keeps the Steelers' defense on the field, and they're rather fresh right now.
Four yard loss when Green Bay runs right. They have to run, but they can't get anywhere with this Pittsburgh front seven. They are for real against the run.
But it will come after the 2nd time out of the second half for Pittsburgh! Big Ben will only have one in his hip pocket if he needs it. The Steelers may get points taken off Green Bay's scoreboard if their adjustment.
Rodgers - missed Swain on a slant pattern. Pin-deep time, Masthay.
7:50 p.m. Steelers' 2nd Drive 9:00
I think the defense may be singing James Taylor lyrics, "Won't you look down upon me Jesus/You gotta help me make a stand."
Steelers have a 186 to 83 yardage advantage after 1st quarter.
Big Ben wastes what could be a monstrous time out.
3rd-1 at PITT 49: oh would this stop be monstrous. They need it like never before.
Moore with a heck of a cutback run for a first down. The Packers had it stopped. They had Moore stopped. And they let him outside.
Very reflective of the whole game so far.
Thanks for missing an open receiver in the end zone, Big Ben. But that's a bad omen.
Ward open again. Inside the 30 yard line. Another first down. No defenders within five yards, and Big Ben gets plenty of time to throw.
NEAR PICK! Tipped pass and Clay Matthews with the fingertip...and the near-interception. MUST take advantage.
THREE YARD LOSS on a Heath Miller catch. Thank you Bishop. You've earned a 2011 starting job.
3rd-13 at GB 32: Big Ben - SACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Frank Zombo with the biggest sack in team history, arguably.
And Suisham missing wider left than my drive on a par-5.
7:44 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 10:19
Wayne Larrivee: "Now, the offense has to step up. The defense is wounded, perhaps mortally."
Larry McCarren: "Need an offensive answer right now."
Starks gets a hole and three yards, which can be an accomplishment with how well Pittsburgh stops the run.
Nelson with the drop. 2nd drop this quarter. A bit high, but it MUST be caught. You and Jones could be the goats in this game.
3rd-7 at GB 21: MUST GET FIRST DOWN HERE!
Sack. Back at the 15. Harrison with his first big play. Momentum is eating a Primanti sandwich and drinking Iron City right now.
7:35 p.m. Steelers' 1st Drive 12:39
One penalty by the Packers in the 1st half. 3 so far 2nd half.
Uh oh. Steelers get 17 from Mendenhall. They keep running right. The Packers know they keep running right. They haven't really stopped them.
Clay Matthews whiffed on the tackle, by the way.
Patrick Lee playing corner right now. Nickel formation and Bush takes over on the slot receiver. Watch that matchup.
Big Ben...runs himself again...five yards. Near the first down marker.
3rd-1 at GB 24: Redman - uh oh. First and goal. Momentum continues to fly Pittsburgh's way.
Mendenhall...game really on. "Way too easy." - Wayne Larrivee.
7:30 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 15:00 left in 3rd Quarter
You can't just possess the ball. You need scores, especially on this drive.
And the scarily good thing is, you might just pull it off.
Unless penalty markers fly on every offensive play for holding on Clifton.
Swain now on the field, as Driver hopes to heal up
Woodson in street clothes.
And Jennings with a false start. Teeeeeetering momentum going Pittsburgh's way.
3rd-5 at GB 25: a must-have third down as Steelers' nation volume increases...and James Jones with an untimely juggle, with the help of a Pittsburgh defender committing pass interference.
If he catches that, it's 28-10. Ugh. Expletives abound.
Halftime over. Worry seeps in about the two most important shoulders on the planet. Besides' Aaron Rodgers' throwing one, of course.
Rodgers, matter-of-factly: "Oh, hum, OK." And they get it done to win this game.
His right arm may have to do this.
6:58 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive :39
6:48 p.m. Steelers' 3rd Drive 2:24
As I was about to say, a stop on this drive, with the Packers getting the ball to start the 2nd half, and Green Bay can bring the Steelers to the dagger stage.
Woodson breaks up the second straight Big Ben bomb. He favors his shoulder after that pass play, but stays in.
3rd-10 at GB 40: BIG stop here if you get it, but Big Ben knows how to be clutch.
And he was there with the delivery to Ward after getting slammed while delivering the ball.
Thank goodness for a long halftime to see if Woodson and Shields can get more medical attention.
Brown makes another catch, but a very short gain...tick, tock, tick, tock....1:20...tick, tock....
Another completion to Ward, and Big Ben is feeling it. Inside the 10 yard line...tick, tock.....
Big Ben....Ward again. TD. They had to have it.
6:42 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 4:28
Driver gets X-rayed on his ankle. We may not need him if Nelson keeps making catches like the 15-yard first down he just made. Though Driver in the lineup never hurts.
STARKS! 12 yard burst, bust, destruction of four or five Steelers.
If they go to the end zone, the dagger can begin to be sharpened during the Black-Eyed Peas.
YES!!!!!!!!!! Greg Jennings! Perfect pass by Rodgers through three defenders!
6:32 p.m Steelers' 2nd Drive 9:28
Now, the defense has to do something to keep the two-score lead.
Another Steeler penalty helps the Packers out with Heath Miller dragging Matthews down. I think the long hair flopping in the wind actually helps the refs. An advantage to the long locks.
Uh oh. Driver to the locker room.
Mewelde Moore skittered, broke about 15,000 tackles and got enough first down yardage on what otherwise was a busted run play.
Big Ben with forever to throw the ball, but he runs for five yards. If he was more patient, he could have produced a 50-yard bomb.
Flozell Adams is old. Bishop destroyed him on 2nd down.
3rd-5 at GB 40: great catch by Randle-El. Just give him credit for a fantastic diving catch on the L of "NFL" in the middle of the field. Pittsburgh's momentum is snowballing. Packers need a stop.
Clay Matthews and Desmond Bishop prove again that Adams is old and cannot block. -1 on the Mendenhall run off-tackle.
PICK!!!!!!!!! Bush! Fantastic pick! He converged on Mike Wallace and he just stole the thing from a fantastic receiver. Meanwhile, Heath Miller was wide open.
6:25 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 11:10
And his first pass of the drive: incomplete. Steelers doing a lot of blitzing, as expected.
3rd-5 at GB 30: Driver...short. Failed drive. Momentum teeters toward the Steelers.
6:18 p.m. Steelers' 1st Drive Continued from 1st Quarter
GREAT stop by Woodson on Mendenhall for -2. Peprah with help, but you know Woodson wants it. And he'll get it when he goes unblocked like the last play.
3rd-12 at PITT 34: A sack here is huge, because it takes points off the board - likely, at least.
Big Ben finds Sanders to the 21...what? Sanders ran backwards! His knee was up when he caught the ball, then he ran backwards and was tackled behind the first down mark. Refs gave him the call. McCarthy could have seen the call on the jumbotron that's above his head, but he would have had to use Inspector Gadget's neck.
3rd-7 at GB 19. Big Ben finds Wallace, but short of the first down. FANTASTIC tackle by Collins, your defensive MVP so far.
6:09 p.m. Steelers' 4th Drive 3:20
I think we're getting there.
But the Steelers continue to pound with Mendenhall and get first downs. A block in the back stopped another first down run, but this is the kind of thing that can wear down a great defense and help Pittsburgh come back.
Whoa. Big Ben's hurt. Grabbing his left leg. He'd had a hip pointer in previous game.
3rd-9 at 50 yard line: Big Ben scramble...first down. 18 yard scamper, and he pulled a Jim Brown. Show off your injury, make the defense think you're coming up limp, then grunt out a first down. Ugh.
6:03 p.m. Steelers' 3rd Drive 3:44
Big Ben goes deep...and pays for it! Collins! PICK SIX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wayne: "You could see Nick Collins draw a bead on it from a mile away."
5:51 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 8:17
Nelson with a great catch on a hook pattern. Those kind of patterns can help a nervous quarterback get his rhythm.
3rd-inches at GB 29: they're throwing, I bet.
Nope: Starks. First down. Great job. Running up the middle with Kuhn won't work in this game with Casey Hampton eating up linemen and running backs.
Another near-first down with a short throw to Nelson at the 47. Move them chains, get Rodgers in rhythm, then go deep later. Like the idea.
Especially considering Starks got maybe 15 inches on the run following. Good enough for the first down, however.
A smart throw to Jackson to the Pittsburgh 38. Essentially a naked screen to Jackson who stayed in the backfield, then gave Rodgers a check-down option as the blitz tried to send him into the earth's magma.
3rd-1 at PITT 29: play action - YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jordy Nelson! First strike, and teams that strike first tend to win Super Bowls. Nelson with just one step on the defender.
5:45 p.m. Steelers' 2nd Drive 11:13
Masthay experienced that on the first punt, just barely getting past Jarrett Bush.
Mendenhall gashes the Packers run defense for 15 yards, because Matthews had an inside rush called, and Mendenhall just went into the gaping hole. A good run blitz call that backfired.
You're seeing the old counter trey run play the Redskins used to run back in the 80's, and Mendenhall is crushing the Packers' defense with it.
A false start on the Steelers comes as fans scream out "Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!" - that familiar chant from the 70's.
3rd-2 at PITT 43: Heath Miller commits a Jordy Nelson, partially thanks to great coverage by Williams. Three guys who can cover wideouts and great tight ends. Nice.
5:37 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 13:13
Larry McCarren: "Bullet dodged there, Wayne." No. Cannonball dodged.
Four-wide on 1st down and Woodley tips a pass to Greg Jennings on a slant pattern which I think we will see all game long. All game long. If passes get there, they should CARVE UP the Steelers.
Pittsburgh running a lot of nickel and are daring the Steelers to run, and Starks does...but not much.
3rd-8 at GB 21: a down Rodgers has owned this postseason...GREAT catch by Donald Driver, on the turf, for 24 yards...but a yellow hanky to match the cheeseheads and terrible towels. Phew. Offsides, defense.
Pass, run, pass play-calling pattern. Rather predictable to begin this drive. If they fail to get 3rd down here, though, it's still good field position if Masthay does his job.
3rd-7 at GB 49: bomb! NELSON! What in the world? You do not let a touchdown pass get past you like that! Through your hands, and it's 7-0 if you do your job.
5:32 p.m. Steelers' 1st Drive 15:00 left in 1st Quarter
Ugh. The ball goes to the 35 on the kickoff. Crosby with the stop. At least he gets his jitters out with a tackle.
Packers go to the 4-4-3 formation to start the game...and Ward starts with a WR screen to the 42 yard line. Not good.
3rd-9 at PITT 36 after a great Zombo stop: Roethlisberger threw that pass to Irving, Tex. Uh, Big Ben, the game's not at the site of old Cowboys Stadium.
Wayne: "pregnant pause. Very pregnant." Like ready to go to the hospital pregnant.
Newest Hall of Fame members head to midfield with the captains.
Call by Steelers: tails. Deion Sanders with the toss: heads. Packers win toss, and will defer. Love that call. Get the 2nd half momentum in your control.
National anthem by Christina Aguilera coming up. Jeff Falconio is timing it here in our Packers Gameday studios.
Interesting. No player starting lineup. I like it.
Wayne: "Here come the Green Bay Packers!" to the "Get Ready for This" music they play at Lambeau Field.
Atari Bigby leads the team in. The many cheeseheads are standing and cheering. Aaron Rodgers is smiling, looking confident.
And now, it's more real.
That time is subject to change.
Pittsburgh has plenty of those in their blitz scheme.
Chad, Mark, O-line...you will need to be very agile to match that fast-track speed.
Usually, when that happens, that team wins the Super Bowl.
We also found out what Mayor Tom Barrett and President Obama are eating at the White House today:
His butterflies have exploded, I'm sure.
In the meantime, some fans will be in the same spot Erik Walden will be - out of the game. Except they're out of the whole stadium.
Some of the temporary seats aren't ready, so some fans are being given refunds three times as much as the face value for the ticket, while others are choosing to go to a special NFL hospitality area.
I'd put them on the field or offer them a meet-and-greet with the winners after the game.
The players will soon be behind, with arrivals probably in the range of around 3:00 p.m. CT.
Coach Mike McCarthy has given his final talk at the 10:30 a.m. meeting. What will come next when they get to the locker room?
Players getting taped up, then their normal warm-ups as if the game was kicking off at 5:00 p.m. Then it gets abnormal, because of the NFL's need to entertain and have huge pomp and circumstance.
Some players have taken that time to do different things. Tom Brady even slept during the extra half hour.
What will these Packers do? Coach Mike McCarthy said that Aaron Rodgers will lead the pregame prayer in the locker room, while Charles Woodson will give the players' speech.
Then, it's Coach McCarthy.
I wonder if he'll follow-up on the theme his predecessor Vince Lombardi used before Super Bowl II in his pregame speech, as recorded by Jerry Kramer:
"It's not going to come easy. This is a club that's going to hit you. They are going to try and hit you. You are just going to take it out of them.
"Just hit, just run, just block and just tackle. If you do that, there is no question what the answer is going to be in this ball game.
"Keep your poise. There is nothing that they can show you out there you haven't faced a number of times. Right? Let's go!
Additionally, check out all 45 ways we've come up with to win Super Bowl XLV, with the last one being perhaps the most important.
Preview by the Associated Press' Barry Wilner
Matchups for the Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers on Sunday in Arlington, Texas.
When the Steelers have the ball
Of course, the Packers' defense isn't likely to consistently miss tackles and be out of position the way the Jets were for 30 decisive minutes. LBs Clay Matthews (52), A.J. Hawk (50) and Desmond Bishop (55) are major reasons Green Bay (13-6) has been stingy against the run in the playoffs, and defensive backs Charles Woodson (21), Tramon Williams (38), and Nick Collins (36) are solid in support. They also excel in pass coverage, along with nickel back Sam Shields (37), a rookie who had two interceptions in the NFC title game.
If Mendenhall can find room to roam behind a depleted offensive line that still has been steady -- it desperately needs standout rookie C Maurkice Pouncey (53) to recover from a left ankle sprain and be in the lineup -- the Steelers will keep pounding. But there's vulnerability in their blocking unit, particularly declining RT Flozell Adams (71), and the Packers have been getting production from NT B.J. Raji (90) and DE Cullen Jenkins (77) in all areas. Raji even had a pick for a touchdown against the Bears.
If Pittsburgh (14-4) isn't effective with the run early on, it will keep trying. But there are excellent options in the passing game, which will need to deal with a fair share of blitzing.
QB Ben Roethlisberger (7) has won two Super Bowls in his seven pro seasons. Despite a four-game suspension at the outset of this season for violating the league's personal conduct policy, he guided the Steelers to the NFC North title, a first-round bye, then to a comeback victory over divisional rival Baltimore in the playoffs. Roethlisberger hurt the Jets more with his feet than his arm, yet the Packers are very aware how dangerous he can be as a passer.
His targets, from longtime team leader Hines Ward (86) to speedy Mike Wallace (17) to solid tight end Heath Miller (83) to rising wideouts Antonio Brown (84) and Emmanuel Sanders (88), are formidable. Wallace is the game-breaker and will see lots of Williams or Woodson in coverage. Ward might operate a lot in the slot, which could make him Shields' responsibility.
Roethlisberger has rising confidence in the youngsters, and Ward and Miller provide comfort zones for him.
Two things the Packers must do if they get pressure on Roethlisberger: keep him from escaping for damaging scrambles, and bring him down when they get their hands on him. Both proved too difficult for the Jets.
When the Packers have the ball
Until RB James Starks (44) emerged in the playoffs, the Packers had virtually no running game. Starks, Brandon Jackson (32) and John Kuhn (30) aren't likely to get far against the league's top-rated run defense, but the Packers certainly should try to find a ground game.
Green Bay's offensive line doesn't get deserved credit. Anchored by RG Josh Sitton (71) and C Scott Wells (63), it's far more suited for pass protection, but has opened enough holes for Starks to break out, and for the other running backs to contribute. They haven't faced a defense like this in the playoffs, though, and Pittsburgh will try to set an early, physical -- some say over-the-top dirty -- tone with LBs James Harrison (92), LaMarr Woodley (56) and James Farrior (51), All-Pro S Troy Polamalu (43), and DE Brett Keisel (99).
The Steelers will send defenders from everywhere at QB Aaron Rodgers (12); CB Ike Taylor (24) made a huge hit on Mark Sanchez that caused a fumble leading to the winning points in the AFC title game. Rodgers has been spectacular for more than a month now after a strong regular season, and he uses his legs nearly as well as Roethlisberger -- not as powerful, but quicker.
Without question, though, Green Bay will need to pass successfully to win its first Super Bowl since the 1996 season. The Packers like to empty their backfield, a dangerous gambit against Pittsburgh's front seven and blitzers. But they can get some good matchups in those situations, whether it's WRs Greg Jennings (85) on Taylor or Donald Driver on Bryant McFadden (20). Driver excels over the middle, but that's where Polamalu and Ryan Clark (25) lurk, and there aren't two more punishing safeties around.
Rodgers has gotten a lot of mileage out of James Jones (89) and Jordy Nelson (87) and both will have key roles at Dallas Cowboys Stadium. If Rodgers can spread the ball around and keep the Steelers' pass rush off-balance, Green Bay has an excellent chance.
Steelers PK Shaun Suisham (6), who replaced veteran Jeff Reed in midseason, has been superb, making 16 of 18 field goals; Pittsburgh is a difficult place to kick.
So is Lambeau Field, though, and Mason Crosby (2) has made 24 of 31, including a 56-yarder. Neither has kicked under the glaring spotlight of a Super Bowl.
The rest of the Steelers' special teams are adequate. Brown had one kickoff runback for a score during the season. P Jeremy Kapinos (13) doesn't always get great coverage accompanying his kicks.
First-year punter Tim Masthay (8) for Green Bay has been efficient if not spectacular. He had an excellent NFC title game, keeping the ball away from All-Pro returner Devin Hester.
Green Bay gave up more yards than it gained per punt and kickoff this season.
A Pittsburgh victory would give Mike Tomlin two titles in his first four seasons as head coach, tying Joe Gibbs' achievement with Washington. Tomlin, only the third Steelers coach since 1969, is a master motivator who also gives his coordinators -- Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau on defense, Bruce Arians on offense -- lots of say.
Tomlin needed to guide the Steelers through some early difficulties and did so masterfully. Roethlisberger's four-game suspension could have put the team in a deep hole. Instead, with a trio of replacements at quarterback, Pittsburgh started 3-1.
The Steelers lost key defensive end Aaron Smith (91) for a big chunk of the season. In 2009, that sent them into a spiral. Not this time.
Tomlin also got the team back on track in the divisional playoff game against Baltimore after it fell behind 21-7 at halftime.
Mike McCarthy might have had an even tougher chore because the Packers placed 15 players on injured reserve this season, an absurd number. That included starting RB Ryan Grant, playmaking TE Jermichael Finley and LB Nick Barnett.
Thanks to the depth the Pack built at so many positions, though, they not only survived, but prospered. Still, McCarthy and his staff, particularly defensive coordinator Dom Capers, deserve tremendous credit for rapidly developing backups and having faith in them.
McCarthy also has a strong relationship with Rodgers that has been critical in the QB's development since the Brett Favre purge in 2008.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)