Monday, February 7, 2011

Things about this Super Bowl that made me happy.

Aside from the raw emotion of the game itself, I enjoyed this game on a personal level. Anyone who reads this knows I have strong opinions on a few things:

1. Most free agent signings aren’t worth it.
2. Trading players is sometimes OK, but most trades that random people throw out there are just stupid. (I’m still glad we did not acquire Marshawn Lynch)
3. You build through the draft.
4. Running is overrated.
5. Picking Aaron was a smart move.
6. Ditching Favre was a smart move.

I’m not going to sit here and say that I’ve never questioned Ted Thompson. I have sometimes questioned Ted Thompson about specific moves, however his overall philosophy on how to build a team was and is brilliant. This Super Bowl will strike a blow against sports stupidity everywhere. Any time any rube throws out a “we never spend money” or “trade for Randy Moss” or “sign whoever to a huge contract”, the 2010 Green Bay Packers are now the immediate rebuttal. In addition,

Ben Roethlisberger is great because he “wins Super Bowls”? Nope.

You need to run to win? Nope.

Aaron Rodgers can’t win a big game? (Always a stupid thing to say.) Nope.

Super Bowl “experience” matters? Nope.

I’m sure there are more.

This Super Bowl was an amazing accomplishment. The Packers ran an absolute gauntlet of top NFL teams, almost exclusively on the road to get where they are right now. They had more significant injuries than anyone else. They had an absolutely brutal schedule. After the loss at New England they had to beat the New York Giants at home (9th overall in DVOA), the Bears at home (16th in DVOA, but always play the Packers well), Philadelphia in Philly (5th overall in DVOA), Atlanta in Atlanta (8th overall in DVOA), Chicago again, this time in Chicago, and then Pitt on a neutral field (2nd overall in DVOA). Winning all of those games is nothing short of amazing. Doing so with their depleted roster is more impressive still.

Thank you to:

Ted Thompson for assembling such an amazing team,

Mike McCarthy for coaching his best games of the year when it counted the most,

Brian Bulaga and Chad Clifton for holding up well against one of the NFL’s best front sevens,

Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, Howard Green, and B.J. Raji for keeping up the pressure despite being held on virtually every play, and especially to Green for causing that interception,

Clay Matthews for being his usual beastly self,

Jarrett Bush for his key interception,

Pat Lee for doing all that he could in a tough situation,

A.J. Hawk for delivering several big hits,

Brett Swain for his special teams pursuit,

Tim Masthay for being the best punter the team has had since Hentrich,

Jordy Nelson for making up for every drop, usually in short order,

Andrew Quarless for getting yourself open in the end zone, even if Aaron didn’t see you,

James Starks for making the most out of his carries, as several were actually of great importance,

To the interior line for getting good push up the middle for almost the entire game,

To Brandon Jackson for his always stellar pass-blocking and clutch, 14 yard reception,

To James Jones who despite the drop that everyone remembers, had a quiet 5 catches for 50 yards,

To everyone in the banged up secondary and every backup LB for stepping up,

To Sam Shields for giving it a go after what I’m fairly sure was a shoulder dislocation,

To Charles Woodson for being a great player, a great leader, and a great teacher. You could still see his influence on the field even after he left.

To Nick Collins who tackled as surely as Charles, and played a brilliant centerfield,

To Donald Driver, who gave it all physically when he could, and gave it all emotionally when he could not,

And finally to the 4 players who I think had a case to be MVP,

To Aaron Rodgers for putting up another virtuoso performance at the quarterback position. If not for a few dropped passes this performance may have rivaled the Atlanta game, and given the level of defense he was facing, it may have anyway. I don’t think he threw a bad ball all game as even his incompletions seemed to be thrown with purpose. To not even present the threat of a run against a team like the Steelers and to still repeatedly torch them is nothing short of amazing.

To Greg Jennings for always managing to work himself open despite always facing the team’s best corner plus safety help. For precise route-running near the end zone and in small spaces, and for dragging that toe. Jennings bailed them out of bad situations time after time this season. He is adept as both a deep threat and a possession guy, and everything in-between. On Sunday he caught a 31 yard deep ball, and managed to hold onto a touchdown despite being lit up by Troy Polamalu. Not a lot of guys can do both.

To Desmond Bishop who was an absolute beast all game whether he was playing at the line, in coverage, or scooping up a key fumble. He was all over the field all day, leading the LBs in tackles (6 solo, 8 total), and making several key stops.

And finally, to Tramon Williams, who has developed into one of the NFL’s top corners over the last year. He made several key stops including on the final 4th down of the game. When he lost Woodson and Shields he didn’t panic or try to do too much, he just continued to, very quietly, eliminate whoever he was defending from the game. On the last play of the game that happened to be Mike Wallace, and Ben Roethlisberger made the mistake, as so many QBs have on the last play of the game this year, of trying to go to Tramon’s man. As always, this resulted in failure for the QB.

Thank you to the entire organization for an amazing season.

After big wins, championships, etc., one of the things I enjoy most is reading every article, listening to every radio show, and watching every recap of the game. It makes me happy all over again every time I do it. This one is going to make me happy for a long time.



Chris said...

Well Said

mitch said...

Things that surprised me:

Dom Capers forgetting about Caleb Hanie. You only rushed three against Hanie and he lit you up for two TDs (he happened to launch two picks, also, but that's what makes him Caleb Hanie). Big Ben <> Caleb Hanie. Big Ben without pressure won't work in your favor very often. Capers forgot this after getting an 18-point lead. He re-remembered it in time.

Big Ben shaving off the beard between the end of the game and the press conference. You put up with it for weeks and weeks, presumably for superstitious reasons, and then you can't make it out of the stadium without shaving it off? I'm left wondering if it was Big Ben's plan if he won, also.

Aaron Rodgers having zero rushing yards (actually, -2, by way of the two kneeldowns at the end). Really, really surprising to me. I would have bet on an over of 20, at least, as a prop bet. I'm guessing the plan was to not let James "Dirty Mofo" Harrison get a cheap, open-field hit on him. Or that the Steelers were playing QB contain on passing downs.

McCarthy trusting Rodgers like Belichick trusts Brady. You need two things on your final drive -- points and running clock. Run-run-run-punt = fail. Trusting your QB to complete passes -- even if they are 2-yarders just to keep the clock moving -- to keep the clock AND the chains moving = sweet. Giving yourself a chance to win the game by calling plays that might actually make a first down is refreshing. No fraidy-cat here.

The Steelers scoring a Superbowl-first 25 points. One of those "weird, don't expect it to happen" scores.

Steve Young's reaction to the game, specifically ARod's performance. You have at least one Super Bowl passing record -- QB performances in the big game should not amaze you this much.

Christina getting the words wrong to the anthem.

This game not setting the attendance record they were after.

The number of dropped passes by Packers receivers.

The number of injured Packers -- on the season and just in the game.

No PI or Defensive Holding penalties on either team.

No questionable/dirty hits by the Steelers.

The number of car commercials.

The number of movie commercials -- especially the number of Marvel Comics movie commercials.

Hines Ward being WIDE open across the middle late in the game. Granted, we were down some starting CB talent, but still.

The pass by Rodgers to Jennings in the middle of the field at the goal line. Lead him, and it's knocked down or picked. I'm not so sure the defender didn't actually get a finger on it. Amazing throw.

Rodgers delivering from the pocket. I expected to see many more spin-outs like in the Atlanta game -- lots more throwing on the run. Perhaps Pittsburgh's plan was to keep him in the pocket.

The Packers scoring only three offensive TDs. Seriously, I was surprised. We were close to having a couple more, I guess, so the game did fall pretty close to my expectations.

Nelson being the leading receiver. I usually claim that he drops every other pass. He only dropped about a third of them on the day. Guess that was the difference. During the regular season, I would get annoyed when he would catch a pass that wasn't a TD, because I figured that meant he'd drop the next one that would otherwise be a TD.

My high emotions/energy during the game. I was about 50/50 in the preseason on our chances to make the SB. Then with all the injuries and a couple of bad losses early, I wrote off the season. To come back, make the 'offs, and win it all is amazing. Conference championship against the Bears, I was on edge the whole week leading into it and very intense during. I told myself the SB is just gravy, and wouldn't be upset if we lost. I was relaxed all two weeks going into it. During the game, though, I couldn't help but swear at my tv several times.

mitch said...

What didn't surprise me:

Packers winning.

Packers taking an 18-point lead. Going into the game, I told people who I discussed the game with that I believed the Packers would lead by 17-21 points at some point during the game. No one agreed with me. Then again, I watched the replay of last year's matchup to refresh my memory of it prior to the SB, so that also went into my analysis.

The Packers rushing total (2nd lowest total by a winning team -- 2nd to the Rams in 00). I figured Rodgers would be our leading rusher on the day, so lack of substantial yardage on the ground wasn't surprising. If anything, I was surprised it was as high as it was.

Jimmy picking the Packers. Terry picking the Steelers.

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