Super Bowl XLV

In my opinion, this was a very weird NFL season. I’m hard-pressed to find a dominant team throughout the whole season. If I’m forced to pick one, it isn’t going to be the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Green Bay Packers. Actually, I think the New England Patriots were the most dominant team throughout the year. Tom Brady won the league MVP but cannot beat the New York Jets.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers have clearly proven what the New York Giants showed us just a couple years ago, that it really doesn’t matter how you start the season as long as you finish strong, really strong. Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh looked average midway through the season. Both teams got better in the second half of the season. Both quarterbacks appeared sharper. Both defenses were significantly tougher.

The Super Bowl was a good game, not a great game. It was a close game. It was an interesting game. It was the type of game you really couldn’t turn off. Everybody has read the recap by now. I think the fact that Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers played turnover-free football was the key to the game. The Green Bay defense came up with plays time and time again. The Pittsburgh Steelers scored 14 unanswered points and closed the score to 21-17. The great Ben Roethlisberger got the ball twice and couldn’t mount a scoring drive. When Rashard Mendenhall, who was starting to run well, put the ball on the ground, momentum put on a green and yellow jersey and never took it off.

Another big situation occurred with less than 6 min. to go in the game, the Green Bay Packers all within the 10-yard line. They had an opportunity to score and really put the game out of reach. They had first and 10 on the Pittsburgh eight. Aaron Rodgers threw a very safe one-yard pass to Crabtree. (It’s kind of funny how Tom Crabtree was playing in the Super Bowl and the more well known, more flamboyant Michael Crabtree was sitting at home watching like the rest of us. I’m just saying…) On second down, Aaron Rodgers threw a safe wide receiver screen to the right. The Pittsburgh Steelers had it pretty well covered and Jones gained two yards. While I was watching this sequence, I was thinking of two years ago when the Arizona Cardinals were about the put the game away at the end of the first half. Warner threw a slant but was intercepted by James Harrison. He ran the ball back 100 yards for a touchdown. That changed the game. Aaron Rodgers could not make the same mistake that Kurt Warner made. Aaron Rodgers had to make safe throws. Also, I don’t think that the Green Bay Packers could simply line up and power the ball, on the ground, into the end zone. If they were going to score a touchdown, it would have to be through the air. So, on third down, the Packers lined up in a five receiver set. Two receivers to the right and three to the left. The Pittsburgh Steelers were in man-to-man coverage. They rushed six. Green Bay only had five blockers so one man was going to come free. Jordy Nelson , who is in the right slot, ran a slant to the corner and Swain, the outside receiver on the right, ran a simple en route. Aaron Rodgers threw the safest possible ball to the corner and it bounced off the fingertips of Jordy Nelson. This was key. It wasn’t a touchdown pass. The coverage was good, if not perfect. Aaron Rodgers did not risk an interception; instead, he made a safe, perfect throw, allowing his team to kick a field goal and win the game.

Congratulations to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Let me add, just for fun, that as a Dallas Cowboys fan, I get confronted/accosted by Pittsburgh Steelers fans all the time. Some of them just want to tell me how bad the Cowboys are, while others want to convince me that Ben Roethlisberger is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. I will acknowledge to any Pittsburgh Steelers fan that Terry Bradshaw was a great quarterback. I also will acknowledge that Ben Roethlisberger is one of the winningest quarterbacks in the history the league, but he has yet to convince me that he’s a great quarterback. He has two Super Bowl rings to prove that he has played with two great teams. In Super Bowls, big Ben has played mediocre to average at best. All of Pittsburgh fans will point to Super Bowl XLIII, in which Ben Roethlisberger was not the best quarterback on the field. Ben was 21 for 34 256 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He had a quarterback rating of 93.2. He has a great game winning drive. Ben’s performance wasn’t as good as Kurt Warner’s. Kurt Warner, the losing quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, was 31 for 43 for 377 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He had a quarterback rating of 112. In Super Bowl XL, big Ben had an awful game. You can even argue that he almost lost the game for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is nine for 21 for 123 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 22! In this Super Bowl, big Ben is 25 for 40, 263 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 77.4. Ben Roethlisberger is a good NFL quarterback. He’s able to use his strength and size to extend the play, which may be his best asset. Right now, in my opinion, he is not a Hall of Fame quarterback.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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