Green Bay 31 – Pittsburgh 25
The Pittsburgh Steelers hopes of claiming a seventh Super Bowl title were dashed Sunday night by costly turnovers and the inability to slow down Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay Packers.
Pittsburgh turned the ball over three times and the Steelers not the Packers looked like the inexperienced team.
Green Bay built a 7-0 first quarter lead as Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a 29 yard touchdown and then two costly turnovers by Ben Roethlisberger doomed the Steelers in the first half.
Safety Nick Collins intercepted an underthrown Roethlisberger deep pass, returning the ball for a 37 yard interception return touchdown just 24 seconds after Nelson’s touchdown to give Green Bay a commanding 14-0 lead.
Pittsburgh got on the board early in the second quarter on a 33 yard Shaun Suisham field to cut the Packers lead to 14-3.
Down 14-3 another Roethlisberger interception turned costly as James Bush intercepted Roethlisberger who threw into double coverage to Mike Wallace in the middle of the field, setting the Packers up at Pittsburgh’s 46 yard line.
Wallace was targeted 16 times in the game.
Rodgers would strike again hitting Greg Jennings for a 21 yard touchdown pass to give Green Bay a 21-3 lead with 2:22 left in the second quarter.
The Steelers were in a big hole but got some life to close out the first half as veterans Antwaan Randle El and Hines Ward came up with big plays to lead Pittsburgh to a late first half scoring drive.
Randle El made a key 37-yard catch and run to spark the quick 77-yard drive and Hines Ward who had 39 yards on three catches during the series, closed out the drive with an 8-yard TD catch to cut the Packers lead to 21-10 with 39 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Pittsburgh went to the half trailing 21-10 and almost cameback in what would have been one of the great Super Bowl comebacks.
In the third quarter, Pittsburgh was on the cusp of taking over the game. The Steelers got a quick defensive stop to open the quarter and the offense which moved the ball well in the first half continued to do the same in the second half and put together a 50-yard drive that was capped off by Rashard Mendenhall’s 8-yard touchdown run to make it 21-17.
Momentum was moving in Pittsburgh’s direction but two missed opportunities seemed to take some life out of the Steelers.
Shaun Suisham missed a 52 yard field shortly after Mendenhall’s score on a call that head coach Mike Tomlin admitted was a terrible call by himself. However, the Steelers were able to hold serve and force the Packers the punt.
But turnovers would once again comeback to haunt the Steelers. This time in great field position. Setup 2nd and 2 at the Packers 33 yard line, Rashard Mendenhall was hit by Clay Matthews who caused a fumble and Green Bay recovered taking over at the Packers 45 yard line.
The Packers once again would turn a Steelers turnover into seven points. Rodgers would drive the Packers 55 yards on 8 players in just 2:53, hitting Greg Jennings for an 8 yard touchdown pass to put Green Bay up by 11 points again, leading 28-17.
The Packers scored 21 points off his three Steelers turnovers.
Trailing by 11, the Steelers would respond and respond quickly. Roethlisberger led the Steelers down the field on a 7 plays, 66 yards (4:23) drive, capped off with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace and a brilliant pitchout by Roethlisberger to Randle El for a 2-point conversion, making it 28-25 with 7:34 left.
Things were shaping up for another great Steelers comeback.
The defense had an opportunity to get the ball back and should have forced a three and out but Rodgers ending up proving to be unstoppable.
Green Bay started at their 25 yard line and then were pushed back due to a false start penalty. After gaining 4 yards on 2nd and 14, the Packers were forced with a 3rd and 10 at their own 25 yard line.
The Steelers defense were a step slow all game against the Packers explosive slant packages and Rodgers hit Greg Jennings for a 31 yard strike on 3rd and 10, moving the ball to Pittsburgh’s 44 yard line.
Pittsburgh would end up holding Green Bay to a field goal but the inability to get that stop on third down led the Packers to putting together a 10 play, 75 yards, (5:27 elapsed) drive.
Mason Crosby pushed the Packers lead to 6, 31-25, hitting a 23 yard field goal with 2:07 remaining.
Pittsburgh had 1 timeout with 2 minutes to play. Typical Roethlisberger comeback fashion but Roethlisberger was not able to put together a 20th career 4th quarter comeback.
A personal foul penalty on the kickoff by Keyaron Fox pushed the Steelers back to the 13 yard line. Roethlisberger would end up missing on his last three passes in the final moments as Pittsburgh turned the ball over after failing to convert a 4th and 5.
Roethlisberger finished 25 of 40 for 263 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt, well below his career of 8+ yards per attempt.
Except for the costly fumble, Rashard Mendenhall ran extremely well, rushing for 63 yards and 1 touchdown on 14 carries. Mike Wallace led the Steelers with 9 receptions for 89 yards and 1 touchdown. Hines Ward had 7 receptions for 78 yards and a score.
Emmanuel Sanders left the game in the first quarter which was a big blow to the Steelers but Antwaan Randle El came up with some big plays. He had 2 receptions for 50 yards and made the two-point conversation.
The Steelers outgained Green Bay 387 to 338.
Roethlisberger was outplayed by Aaron Rodgers who was tremendous. He was 24 of 39 for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns. The key stat, no interceptions.
It was a heck of a season for the Steelers but they sealed their fate on Sunday night with costly mistakes.
Super Bowl teams who have returned an interception for a touchdown are now 11-0.