Passing Fancy

Aaron Rodgers was named Super Bowl MVP with 300 plus yards passing and 3 TD passes.


Well, here came the Packers, attacking that supposedly impenetrable Dick LeBeau defense with the likes of Jordy Nelson, James Jones and even little used Brett Swain to go along with Jennings, who finished the game four catches (64 yards), half of those for touchdowns.

Because with Driver out, and the Steelers concentrating their coverage on Jennings, Nelson suddenly became Rodger's go-to guy. No, he wasn't perfect. He had two costly drops. But he did lead the Packers with nine catches for 140 yards and did score the game's first touchdown on a beauty of a 29-yard over-the-shoulder catch, beating Steelers corner William Gay.

"Jordy did an outstanding job," said Jennings. "Can't say enough about him. Told him all year he's going to be underrated (as the third receiver) and then he'll make plays for us."

Nelson made plays. So did Jones, who has a tendency to drop a ball or two on you. But he too came through, catching five passes for 50 yards.

See, the Packers knew to beat the Steelers, to move the ball on the Steelers defense, they couldn't just keep banging their heads into the middle trying to run the ball just because people think you have to run the ball. They realized they needed to spread out the Steelers defense, and for the majority of the game the Packers went three wide receivers - at least - and four and five were standard fare.

That kept Polamalu away from the line of scrimmage. That made the Steelers pay for blitzing and not getting there.

Here is the evidence. The Packers had six passes plays for more than 20 yards - 38, 31, 29 (TD), 24, 21 (TD) and 21. That's huge. Compare that to the Steelers, who threw the ball even more, 40 times to their 23 runs for 126 yards. What's that, you can run for more than 100 yards and still get beat? Well that's because the Steelers had just two pass plays in the game of more than 20 yards - 37 and 25, the Mike Wallace touchdown reception that, with a two-point conversion, narrowed the Packers one-time 11-point lead in the second half to just three, 28-25 with 7:34 left to play.

But even at that point, the Packers didn't back off. From first-and-10 at their own 25, here were the first few play calls on this all-important drive: Pass (sack), pass (9 yards), pass (false start), pass (31 to Jennings), run (14), run (1) pass (21), pass (1), pass (2) and pass (incomplete), forcing them to settle for Mason Crosby's 23-yard field goal and the tenuous six-point lead with 2:07 remaining.

Just kept doing what they do. They didn't back off. Didn't go into a defensive shell on offense, knowing the Steelers had only one timeout remaining.

That's how you win playoff games.

"We talked about it at halftime," McCarthy said. "We said, 'Hey, this is a heavyweight fight.' They delivered a bunch of blows to us. We cut them. We just knew we had to keep chipping away. Offensively, we knew we had to put some more points on the points . . . we kept fighting and scratching."

And passing - down the field.

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