30-4. The statistics don't lie. Midway the third quarter, as Green Bay led Pittsburg 21-17, FOX broadcasters Troy Aikman and Jon Buck told viewers that teams who turn the ball over three times or more were 4-30 in Superbowl games. The comment came moments after Rashard Mendenhall fumbled a carry well inside Green Bay territory and squandered the Steelers' last serious opportunity to take the lead and bring the Lombardi Trophy home. After it, Pittsburg never seemed to really be capable of coming back.
That 4-30 statistic may not have buried the Steelers by itself but it makes one crystal clear point: sloppy play loses football games. It's that simple: the Steelers didn't take care of the football and that is why they went home losers. Pittsburg did not play an awful game. Ben Roethlisberger had his moments of brilliance. He even through a laser pass to Mike Wallace late in the fourth and then tossed a two point conversion pitch to bring the Steelers within three. That said, the Steelers committed three turnovers. The first, a sloppy throw that turned into a pick six, came in the first quarter and set the early tone. The other two were little better and the twenty one points that Green Bay scored off those turnovers clearly decided the game. All the other statistics; combined yards, passing yards, total sacks, and the rest, paled in comparison to that one mark: 0-3. Even with everything else fairly close, those turnovers kept Green Bay ahead throughout and left them enjoying the confetti shower.
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Green Bay played a clean, well executed game. The Packers were not exceptionally brilliant or historic, they did not score touchdowns on several possessions in a row, and they certainly did not embarrass the Steelers defense. But they didn't make any crucial mistakes and managed to shred Pittsburgs' defensive schemes for big plays when they needed them. Taking advantage of the Steelers' uncharacteristic mistakes, Aaron Rodgers used his excellent field position to put up twenty-one points after turnovers and another touchdown on top of that. Along the way, he racked up over three hundred yards passing and three touchdowns without a single interception or fumble and won a Superbowl MVP for his efforts. The game was about execution, Rodger's executed, and now the Lombardi Trophy is returning home…for the year at least.
Looking forward, this could be the last football game played for quite a while. Although Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, told reporters this week that talks between the NFL and the Players Union were progressing, a lockout remains very possible. Most players simply do not want biting salary reductions and an eighteen game season. Unless they change their bargaining position quickly, the NFL owners may simply lock them out. After all, polite commentary aside, the owners must love the potential opportunity to crush the Players Union once and for all. Very few players save their money properly and NFL owners know it. A lockout presents them with the chance to push the players to sign any agreement out of desperation. Fans should not underestimate the chance that a lockout will really happen and there won't be any football next season.
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That said, enough gloom and doom. Football may be gone for a good part of next season but we don't know that yet. In the meantime, we can congratulate the Packers on a tough win in a compelling game and salute the NFL for presenting us with an excellent Superbowl XLV. After all, even the halftime show was decent this year!
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