Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Diary: Packers - Steelers Second Half

After a halftime performance that's got to make the NFL rethink this whole "Hire Young People" idea, Suisham hits it to the end zone, and Nelson takes a knee. Woodson is out for the second half, and that's a huge Yellow loss, assuming Rodgers doesn't just carry the load himself. Starks for two, and it comes back on a hold on TE Donald Lee; first Yellow flag of note. Woodson on the sidelines with his arm in a sling, and ouch. From the gun, Rodgers finds WR James Jones for ten, with some niftiness. Sanders is also out for the Steelers; so much for Jerry's Field not, well, sucking. From the gun and burning clock, Yellow takes a false start on Jennings. Momentum starting to go Black; the Pack look jittery on protection issues. Second and 15 from the gun sees Rodgers find Nelson as the blitz is picked up. Third and five from the gun sees Rodgers hits Jones in the hands with an ocean of open field in front of him, and that's a huge drop for Yellow. Masthay's punt to Brown sees the PR run 20 yards to go nowhere, but Yellow picks up their third flag in a minute at the end of the play, and that's a 15-yard add-on. Black with lots of momentum, especially if they can take advantage of Woodson's absence.

From midfield, Mendenhall shows good patience for 17 yards to the left, but ends the run by smashing into a cameraman, and may be a little beat up. RB Isaac Redman comes and goes three straight yards. From the Yellow 30, Roethlisberger gets six on an awkward scramble to the right, and it looked like he could have dived for the marker in bounds. Third and one is usually good for Black, and Redman bounces it to the left for a solid gain; Miller sealed the edge. 16 yard gain. First and goal from the nine is a give to Mendenhall, who finds a hole and goes to paydirt as Yellow looked sickly. Wow, great work by the Steeler OL and the RB, and after a shaky PAT from Suisham, it's 21-17 Packers with 10:19 left in the third. 5 plays, all on the ground. Huge.

Nelson is fortunate to get back to his own 18; Steelers STs are winning their part of the battle. Yellow needs a drive something fierce. A first down pre-snap worry ends with a give to Starks for three. Steeler Fan getting loud, as they are want to do. Slant to Nelson fails, and the wideout might have heard footsteps. The QB is not getting many favors from his WRs in this game, at least not recently. From the gun, Rodgers has time until he doesn't, and that's the first Black sack of the day, from OLB James Harrison. This game feels like a 2-touchdown Steeler lead right now. Brown fields Masthay's punt on a bounce, and Black starts at their own 40.

Mendenhall for just one; any number of good offensive options for Black right now. Empty backfield bubble screen to Wallace gets eight. Third and short sees Ben look confused, and Black takes their first timeout. Moore takes an awkward exchange, but bounces right for the first, and why that took a timeout to call, I'll never know. From the Yellow 44, Roethlisberger misses an open Wallace in the end zone; bad throw by the QB, and he had all day and a clean pocket. Another wide-open WR on the next play, and Ward collects it for 15 and the first. Yellow defense just looking gassed all over the place right now. From the Yellow 29, Mathews blocks a Roethlisberger pass as the room has heart failure; near pick. Whoa. Roethlisberger gets effective pressure from a delayed blitz and takes Miller on a checkdown, but CB Desmond Bishop wrestles him down for a three yard loss. From the gun as Fox goes with the "No Sacks" tidbit, Mathews and DT Frank Zombo do the honors, as Roethlisberger holds it too long. Suisham tries from 52 and misses by a mile, and Steeler Fan hated the move ever before he put foot to ball.

Rodgers on a rollout is nice playcalling, and finding Nelson on a cross goes for 18. He's everywhere for them today. A give to Starks is weak, and the rookie goes east-west and down for a loss of three. From Black's 44, Rodgers takes TE Andrew Quarless for five, and a lost helmet at the end of the play. Third and eight outside of figgie range is a big deal, and Yellow takes a timeout. Yinzer Fan is so into this game, they're howling with hate at the timeout. Easy, folks. 17:34 left in the season. Rodgers from the gun has time, but misses on a route where the WR isn't open. Fox questions why Crosby isn't given a 56-yard attempt, because they are morons. Masthay's punt is fair caught at the Black 13.

Mendenhall for three manly yards; Hawk on the tackle. A pumped, then thrown, bubble screen to Wallace gets five painful yards; odd play. Third and two from the gun sees Roethlisberger miss Wallace high, and the WR pays the price with Williams hitting him hard and clean. Aikman, surprisingly, throws the WR under the bus. Kapinos' punt is huge and long with a roll, and Williams makes it worst by hitting the gunner who is trying to shove him into the rolling ball. That's just 66 yards of field position change right there. Woof.

15:47 left; if Rodgers wants the MVP, now's the time. He misses Quarless, who was open on a seam route, and the QB isn't as sharp as he was in the first half. Big missed opportunity there. From the gun, there's pre-snap confusion, and Rodgers has to throw it away before the pressure gets there. Yellow doesn't look at all good right now. Third and 10 from the gun shows Rodgers hitting reserve WR Brett Swain for an apparent first down, but the WR can't secure it to the ground as the coverage units strip the man. The slo-mo shows the ball hitting the WR in the face, even; if it's a catch and fumble, the Pack keep the ball, but I can't see this being overturned. Long delay without a challenge flag being thrown, and now we have Fox's referee honk on to numb America to sleep. Kudos to CB William Gay, and this is being challenged. It takes forever, worrying Yinzer Fan, but ends happily for them. Two Packer timeouts left. Masthay's punt is his fourth of the quarter -- wow -- and a bomb that Brown returns well... but an ineligible man downfield gives Tomlin the idea to make the Pack re-kick. This one is short and caught at the Yellow 41, a 12 yard gain for the flag.

Mendenhall for eight to the right, and he's been a beast. The clock runs off, and that's the end of the third quarter; Packers 21, Steelers 17.

Fifteen minutes left in the season, assuming we don't have overtime. Mendenhall goes right and fumbles, and the ball stays on the ground for an eternity before Bishop recovers. Mathews on the hit that caused the third turnover of the day for Black.

Rodgers tries a deep ball; no luck. On second, it's Nelson for three as Polamalu holds on for the stop. Third and long after the turnover is massive, and Rodgers from the gun gets it to Jones on the sideline for an apparent first down. Nice job by the WR. From the Black 40, Rodgers misses Jackson on a checkdown, and the QB still looks off in the second half. It's kind of amazing that he's got a 98.5 passer rating in a weak game for him, but that's his level right now. Another drop, this time by Nelson on a cross that's another first down and more. Yeesh. From the gun, Rodgers has time against a blitz, and finds Nelson on a cross where the WR has all kinds of room after the catch. Nice work by the OL, and the gain is 38 yards. First and goal from the three is awkward, with Rodgers bouncing around and keeping the play alive, but ending with a five yard sack. Telling that they don't trust the running game there. On second, Rodgers finds Jennings going to the corner, and that's just pretty. Polamalu cheated inside, and after the Crosby PAT, it's Packers 28, Steelers 17. Third time in this game that a Steeler turnover has resulted in a Packer touchdown, and Yinzer fan is bummed. 11:51 left.

After a good Brown return and a great load of commerce, it's Black ball at their own 34. Roethlisberger to TE Matt Spaeth on a quick hitter for nine. Black not moving with a ton of quickness, and they probably should be. The QB takes Wallace on a quick check down for the first. From Yellow's 46 in the gun, Roethlisberger misses Brown as Bush gets to the QB with violence. Bubble screen to Wallace for 14 is well done, and we're under 10 minutes and counting. From the Yellow 32, Black takes a clear hold as Packer Fan gets loud. First and 20 from the gun, it's another bubble to Wallace, but it only gets two yards; starting to get obvious. Wallace now with 8 for 64, but turning him into a possession wideout seems wrong to me. From the gun on second, Black takes all the clock but finds Ward out for a nice gain over the middle. Third and three from the 25 sees Ben from the gun connect with Wallace on a fly route that is absolutely dead solid perfect, and the room explodes. Wow. Tomlin chooses to go for two from the gun, and they execute a nifty QB option for the make, with Randle-El getting it done. Big, big swing. Packers 28, Steelers 25. For all the hype, this is a game for the ages.

Play action fools no one, and Rodgers goes down from DT Ziggy Hood. So much for Yellow having balance from the run game. From the gun on second, Rodgers hits Nelson for nine, setting up third and five. Rodgers hit 16 times, according to Fox; not surprising. From the gun as Yinzer Fan crosses himself with Polamalu, Yellow takes a false start to make things harder. Third and 10 from gun with 6:19 left is a big damned deal, and the QB has time and a perfect ball to Jennings for 31 massive yards. Seam route, perfect pass. Rodgers is just that damned good. A give to Starks works for 14, just the tenth time today that the Pack has ran the ball. Less than five minutes left; Yinzer Fan losing voice badly. Starks for one, mostly to burn clock. Four minutes and counting. Rodgers on a back shoulder throw to Jones, just one more great throw, Gay spun around on the play. First and goal from the eight with 3:47 left, with Black only having one timeout left. Checkdown gets a yard and keeps the clock running. From the gun, Rodgers takes all clock, then finds Jones on a bubble for a few more. Third and goal with 2:30 and counting, and the season's on the line right here; a TD ends it. From the gun, Rodgers takes all clock and tries Nelson, but the ball stays off his hands. Safe play from Rodgers, but not quite perfect. Crosby for the chip shot makes it from 23, and it's Packers 31, Steelers 25. All on the Black offense now, with 2:07 left, one timeout.

Squib kick is taken by Redman to his own 26, and Black makes it harder on themselves with a post-whistle flag. 1:59 left, and we get the rare opportunity to see ads. From the gun from his own 13, Roethlisberger has time and Miller for 15. Clock running, but that's positive. From the gun again, it's short to Ward for four, and the clock runs. 1:10 and counting. The QB avoids Hawk and throws it away on second; 62 seconds left, and Wallace looked lost on that play. From the gun on third and five with a sub tackle due to a shoe problem, Roethlisberger misses Wallace on a misfire, and that's just unconscionable with the season on the line. Fourth and five with Black looking confused, it's Ben from the gun using all the clock, and it's incomplete to Wallace. Possible DPI there; the replay makes a case for it, but not enough of one. Ball game and season over, and I missed my point prediction on this game by the 2-point conversion. Packers 31, Steelers 25, and that was as good of a game as you could hope for, except for the kneeldown finish.

I'd like to thank my hosts, the CMJDad family, for their kindness, and my condolences for their season... but you just can't win a game against the best QB in the game when the turnover battle is 3-0 against you. More later.

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