Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Diary: Packers - Steelers First Half

I am coming to you live from CMJDad's Super Bowl party, with a couple of dozen of Yinzer Fans. I'm on record as picking the Pack, but considering that these are the folks who claim I jinx their team every time I take, no one seems offended by this. I'm also accompanied by the Shooter Kids, who seem just a wee bit intimidated by the Dad's Terrible Towel and chanting. They'll never complain about my volume again...

After the usual overdose of hype, we get Michael Douglas adding to it. Now I'm excited! The Pack wins the toss and defers. Pittsburgh KR Antonio Brown with a nice runback to his own 36; lots of room on that, telling for later. QB Ben Roethlisberger on a bubble screen to WR Hines Ward for four; OLB Clay Mathews on the stop. RB Rashard Mendenhall is stuffed for a four yard loss on second; nice penetration by the DL. From the gun, Roethlisberger misses to Brown on the right, and that looked like bad data. P Jason Kapinos to PR Tramon Williams is muffed at his own 22, and after a minute of war crime, the Pack recovers. CB Sam Shields caused that more than Williams; jittery work by the Pack STs so far.

From the Packer 21, QB Aaron Rodgers from the gun misses WR Greg Jennings on a slant; MLB Lamar Woodley with the defense. Power formation shotgun draw to RB James Starks gets just a yard. Third and long from the gun sees Rodgers draw a free play offsides, then connect to WR Donald Driver for a big gain. The 24-yard strike stands, and the Pack has the ball at midfield; nice throw by Rodgers under heat. From the Pack 46, Rodgers tries WR Jordy Nelson on play action, but it's high on pressure from bearded celebrity DT Brent Keisel. Starks gets three on a play that looked like it could go for more on a left-side cutback, but the rookie goes straight into traffic. Third and long from the gun for Rodgers is a big damned deal, and he's got time and an open Nelson, but the WR misjudges it. Tough ball to catch, but should have been. P Tim Masthay's punt is missed by the gunner and into the end zone for a touchback. Four minutes in, and we're tight all over.

Mendenhall to the right for 15, and that looked pretty, on a counter. Another nice hole and run by the back for nine. Pre-snap flag for a false start on TE David Johnson makes things harder. Bubble screen to WR Mike Wallace gets four before Williams makes the stop. Third and two just outside of figgie range is a big damned deal, and a center slant to TE Heath Miller goes off his left hand for the stop. Kapinos' punt hits the end zone, and that's another touchback. Punters not covering themselves in glory so far.

Rodgers from the gun with men in the backfield has time, but Jennings isn't open on a fly. QB looks a little jittery on pressure so far. A button to Nelson gets nine and three quarters. Starks gets seven after shaking off initial pressure; curious call as LB Lawrence Timmons is clearly held, to no call. Rodgers to Nelson for nine more, and he appears to be today's designated Packer hero. Starks converts the short second down as Green Bay keeps it basic, rather than taking a shot downfield. The Pack calls time as Fox's Joe Buck and Troy Aikman begin to fellate Yellow.

After commerce, celebrities eat on camera, then Rodgers shakes off pressure to take RB Brandon Jackson on a checkdown for 14. Starks for another solid gain of seven. Yellow staying committed to the run so far. From the Steeler 32, Rodgers takes FB Corey Hall for two, and the QB is doing a solid job of sensing the pressure on this drive. Third and one is play action to Nelson, who outfights S Ryan Clark for the game's first touchdown. The room goes silent as they start to realize that Rodgers is an awful lot of misery. K Mason Crosby connects, and it's Pack 7, Steelers 0 with 3:44 left in the first quarter. Five straight for Rodgers, many of them under duress.

Brown for another really good return, but it comes back on a clip, and Black will start on their own 7. From his own end zone, Roethlisberger throws a pick on a fly route, and FS Nick Collins takes it to the house. The QB was under pressure, but still a poor decision, and the Pro Bowl S makes a nice return for the score. The Pack celebrate too much, and wouldn't you? Crosby hits the PAT, and it's 14-0 Packers, and we could be looking at a lack of drama if the Black offense doesn't show up big, and soon.

KR/RB Mewelde Moore with a middling return on the field-aided flag, so Black starts at their own 35. Mendenhall for four on first, then another nice gain to the right for the first. Bubble to WR Emmanuel Sanders for a few, but post-whistle disagreements over determinism against free will foreshadow a clip on OL Chris Kemoeatu, who Fox is already sizing up for goat horns. First and 16 from the gun is a checkdown to Mendenhall as Roethlisberger does a nice job against heat. Second and nine is play action with time and a clean pocket, and Roethlisberger plants badly and misses Miller. Looks like his knee failed. Very worrisome for Black. From the gun on third, the QB shakes off the injury to run for 18 and the first. Gutsy play by the QB, but he doesn't look spry. End of the first quarter.

Mendenhall is felled by CB Charles Woodson for a loss of two. From the gun on second, Williams stops a throw to Sanders on tight coverage; perfectly done by the defender. Third and long from outside figgie range is a big damned deal, and from the gun Roethlisberger has time and Sanders for the first. Odd play by the wideout, who almost missed the first on a curlback, and the WR limps off. Troublesome, but a first down they needed badly. Roethlisberger on play action shambles for a couple, and the QB looked better on that run. Mendenhall for a yard to the right as Yellow continues to do good work on this drive against the run. Another third and long from the gun sees a checkdown to Wallace, but Collins ends him early, and it's fourth and three. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin calls on K Shaun Suisham, who sneaks it in from 33, and Black is on the board. 14-3 Packers with 11:08 left in the half.

Yellow gets it back to their own 25. Rodgers from the gun with pre-snap fun, and he misses Jennings on a curl against a CB blitz from the other side. Sanders is questionable for the rest of the game. From the gun, it's a curl to Jennings with immediate coverage from CB Ike Taylor; five painful yards. Third and long from the gun sees Rodgers looking comfortable, but his check down to Driver is stopped before the sticks, and the WR limps off. "Jerry's field sucks!" yells the Yinzer fan next to me, and I concur, but the replay shows the injury is much more likely caused by LB James Farrior. The punt is good and mostly uneventful.

Fox recaps Big Ben's offseason fun, and Yinzer Fan is not amused. From their own 22, Mendenhall shows good toughness for seven, but it comes back on a Miller hold. Driver goes to the locker room. Nine minutes left in the half. From the gun, it's Wallace finding a spot in the zone for 16. Yinzer Fan really doesn't want to see Aikman and Buck in the booth, but they love Moore getting seven yards and a first with some nice toughness; Mathews was owned on that play. From their own 35, play action for Roethlisberger gives him all day, but he winds up shambling up the middle for five yards. He still doesn't look right to me, but he doesn't need to be to be him, really. Moore loses a yard as Yellow sells out the run. Third and six is a big damned deal, and from the gun, Roethlisberger gets it to WR Antwan Randle-El for the first. Black just barely got that off, and the three-man rush didn't do much at all for Yellow there. Mendenhall for a loss on what might have been a face mask. Black calls time; not sure why, but Fox wants to show us artwork and morons watching from outside, rather than the replay for the Mendenhall run. Have to love Fox, really. From the gun, CB Jerrod Bush jumps a center route to Wallace and makes the pick. Yinzer Fan is screaming for a flag, but they won't get it, and the slow mo Ben reaction is kinda retarded, and priceless.

From their own 47, Jennings with a bubble screen for three; might be the first play he's made today. With under four minutes to play, Rodgers finds Nelson as the secondary blitzes aren't doing anything for Black, and neither is the DL. Seventeen yard play, and Nelson is just all day today. Starks keeps his feet for 12 with a really impressive run, and that's another Yellow first down. 2:45 and counting. From the Black 21, Rodgers from the gun has time and Jennings, who holds on at the goal line as S Troy Polamalu unloads on him, but the ball is perfect and the WR is a stud for a reason. Wow, that's pretty definitive for Yellow. Crosby with the PAT, and it's 21-3 with 2:24 left. It's a simple game to bet when the turnover battle is 2-0.

Brown gets it back to the 23. Black with 2:18 and two timeouts to work, and Yellow gets the ball to start the second half, so this is a very important drive. From the gun, Ben has time, and Randle-El pulls down a high throw for 37 and a first. CB Sam Shields leaves, and that's a problem. Roethlisberger tries Wallace deep, but its underthrown. Woodson is down, and Yellow has to take a timeout to get him off the field; nice hurry up work by Black to force things. He's back for this play, which is Ben from the gun getting tipped, and nearly picked again. LB AJ Hawk with the move on that one. Third and long and down 18 is a big damned deal, and Roethlisberger from the gun somehow gets it to Ward for the first in traffic. Woodson to the locker room, and between him and Shields going off, it's prime time for Black to get closer. From the Yellow 26 in the gun, Roethlisberger takes Brown for a yard that would have been better off as an incomplete. With the clock running to 1:10, Roethlisberger to Ward for a cross and a first as the room erupts... and then get louder when the QB works off pressure to find Ward in the end zone for a touchdown. Huge play for the Steeler Nation, and shows the chemistry that the QB has with his favorite established target. Collins goes off early as well, and yeesh, Yellow, that's getting a bit crazy.

39 seconds left as Suisham kicks it deep, and Yellow takes a knee. With one timeout and an 11-point lead, I suspect Yellow will sit on this; I know I would. Starks for two, clock runs, and that's your half. Packers 21, Steelers 10 at the half, and we'll be back later.

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