From Green Bay To Arlington
How did the Packers make it to Super Bowl XLV?
By: Braden Gall | 1/23/11, 6:54 PM EST
Rodgers has led Green Bay to the Super Bowl.
Longtime Packer Driver will get his chance at a title.
Defense: Despite losing Nick Barnett, Brad Jones, Brandon Chillar, Morgan Burnett, Brady Poppinga, and Mike Neal to IR, this defense has been as stout as any in the league. Charles Woodson has been a terror in blitz packages. Tramon Williams is quickly turning into a star lockdown coverman – just ask Matt Ryan and Michael Vick. Two fellow 2009 first-round picks - tackle B.J. Raji and linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. - have become the dominant forces McCarthy and Capers anticipated when they were drafted. Raji has solidified the defensive front by excelling at both end and tackle - and apparently in pass coverage, after returning his first career NFL interception for a game-winning, Super Bowl-clinching touchdown on Sunday. Raji's fourth-quarter play ranks right next to Williams' own housed interception to end the first half of the Falcons game as the biggest postseason moments for this Packers team.
Capers bunch allowed a total of 266 passing yards to Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler combined and has a a 2:4 TD:INT ratio in the playoffs. Green Bay has also been excellent on third down, allowing only 9-of-33 conversion attempts this postseason - the Falcons and Bears combined for only 4-of-23 in the last two games.
Simply put, there aren't any weaknesses in this defense.
Super Bowl Record: 3-1
1997: 31-24 loss to Denver (XXXII)
1996: 35-21 win over New England (XXXI)
1967: 33-14 win over Oakland (II)
1966: 35-10 win over Kansas City (I)
Last Meeting With Pittburgh: 37-36 road loss on Dec. 20, 2009 (Packers hold series lead 18-14)
These two combined for 35 fourth quarter points and four lead changes back in '09. As is to be expected with two of the best improvisational quarterbacks in the league, Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger put on a show of epic proportions. The two combined for 893 yards through the air and seven total touchdowns. Roethlisberger's 503 yards were a franchise and personal single-game record with Big Ben playing the role of hero when he connected with Mike Wallace on the game's final play.
How the Packers will win Super Bowl XLV:
First and foremost, if Rodgers plays as well as he has, the offense will score points and the Pack will be tough to beat. However, establishing the ground game could be equally important against a front seven that matches up well against the Green Bay attack. The fact of the matter is that these two teams are eerily similar. They are historic, blue-collar organizations with a combined 18 NFL championships. They have the two best quarterbacks in the league at twisting a devastating sack into a crippling touchdown pass. They have complicated, unorthodox 3-4 defensive schemes that would make Stephen Hawking question where the blitz is coming from. And they each have a deep bevy of talented, electrifying skill players - a sleek, speedy deep threat and a grizzled, tough-nosed veteran who always seems to be smiling.
The biggest, and only, difference? Reshard Mendenhall. The Steelers imposed their will against a very able New York Jets front seven. These two teams are virtually identical with the exception of Mendenhall. If Green bay cannot stop the downhill, physical ground game, they could be in for a long, painful night - a la Terrell Davis.
But if the Packers get good balance and can convert in short yardage/goalline situations with their own effective rushing attack, Cheeseheads everywhere will be very happy.
Matchups within the Matchup:
Whoever Dick LeBeau blitzes vs. Green Bay rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga
Whether its Harrison, Farrior, Polamalu, Woodley or Timmons, the not-quite-a-rookie-anymore tackle will have his hands full protecting Rodgers. Left tackle Chad Clifton missed a few series against the Bears after a blow to the head, but after playing much of the second half, Clifton should be ready to defend No. 12's blind side.
Green Bay defensive tackle B.J. Raji vs. Pittsburgh center Maukrice Pouncey or Doug Legursky
Pouncey says he will play, but Dwight Freeney played on bum ankle last year and was clearly not 100%. Raji has been a force and will be a tough mark for a banged-up Pouncey or second-year man Legursky (who already had exchange issues with Big Ben against the Jets).
Mike Wallace vs. Green Bay safeties Nick Collins and Charlie Peprah
Wallace, and fellow speedy wideouts Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, have the ability to get behind any defense and make the big play. Each Steeler playoff win has been highlighted by one or two huge plays down the field. If Big Ben is running around making plays, it will fall to the safeties to offer help to the corners over the top.
Steeler's nickelbacks vs. Packer No. 3 and 4 wideouts Jordy Nelson and James Jones
The only weakness in the Pittsburgh defense is on the back end (if there is one) and the Packers targeted Bears' nickelman Tim Jennings time and time again last weekend. Expect more of the same from McCarthy.
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