(Photo by Corey Wilson of the Green Bay Press-Gazette)
I have a few observations from watching hours of post-game coverage, some live, and some on tape. I will have more to say on the game itself later, but just wanted to comment on a few things from the moments of celebration.
As soon as the game ended, the idea sprang to mind that this game was a microcosm of the season as a whole. I thought it was an original thought, but then I saw Chris Berman and others use the same term. Berman, being an Ivy Leaguer from Brown, is obviously a smart guy, so it is a good thought, even if not original. But this game really did capture the whole season. Excellent play for most of the game by Aaron Rodgers, lots of dropped catchable balls, big plays on defense (especially the interception for a touchdown by Nick Collins and the forced fumble by Clay Matthews), a lull in the middle of the game, and finally a game-winning stand by the defense. If that does not replicate what happened this season, I don't know what does. [Ed. Note: I meant to mention the injuries to critical players, yet another way in which this game mirrored the season as a whole.]
Turning over the ball to the Steelers, with two minutes left, reminded the football guys on TV of the Super Bowl between the Steelers and the Cardinals two years ago, where the Steelers got the ball with about 2 minutes left and went down the field to win the game. But I could not get the image of the 2009 Packers - Steelers game out of my mind, where the Packers took a 6 point lead late in the fourth quarter, but the Steelers drove for the game-winning touchdown on the final play. Not this time, though. The Packers' defense would not let that happen.
And it still is true that the Packers never trailed in any game, all year long, including the playoffs, by more than seven points. That is a remarkable accomplishment.
I saw Greg Jennings, on the post-game show, talk about how "our no. 1 receiver, Donald Driver, went out with an injury." Now, everybody knows that Greg Jennings is the Packers' no. 1 receiver, and has been for several years. But what a classy, deferential move for Greg Jennings to describe Donald Driver that way.
Donald Driver spoke about the fact that sometimes you get injured, that you hope it doesn't happen in a Super Bowl, but that he is fine with it. He said that his teammates told him that they would win the game for him.
I saw Charles Woodson, asked about his reaction to breaking his collarbone, saying that he broke down and cried, more so than he had done since he was a little kid. And yet I also heard that, during halftime, he spoke to the team and told them just to play their hearts out and win the game. I assume that he tried to talk at greater length to the team, and just could not get the words out.
Desmond Bishop, referring to Woodson breaking down, described how powerful it was to him to see his idol, Charles Woodson, break down like that, and how it motivated him to go out and win the game for Woodson.
Speaking of Donald Driver and Charles Woodson, you could not miss them standing on the sidelines, cheering on their team. I thought Jay Cutler was unfairly criticized for not coming back into the NFC Championship Game, but it is undeniable that he mostly sat on the bench or stood by himself, and appeared to be sulking or feeling sorry for himself on the sidelines. Totally different deal with Driver and Woodson, and I would have expected nothing less of them.
I heard Charles Woodson tell an anecdote to show how loose the Packers were before the game. He described how, on Saturday night, backup defensive end C.J. Wilson sat down and started playing the piano. He said that he had always heard that Greg Jennings can sing, but he had never actually heard him, until Jennings (who, I believe, also plays the guitar) joined in with Wilson and started singing for the team, on the night before the Super Bowl.
I saw one of the players (can't remember who said this) tell the interviewer that Mike McCarthy had the team members measured for Super Bowl rings Saturday night. What a great way to bring home the immediacy of the task in front of them, and to emphasize that they expected to win the game. That was something that Mike McCarthy said all week, along with the statement that "This is our time."
And I heard Aaron Rodgers talk about how the team is made up of high quality players, and high character players. From everything we can see, as fans on the outside looking in, that is true, and I think the comments quoted above by various players tends to show it is true.
Finally, I heard the tail end of a radio interview with Dom Capers, who was asked about the loss of Woodson, and for a time, Sam Shields, and he said that the game plan went out the window. But it was the Super Bowl, with an extended halftime, and as a result, the defense had time to make the numerous adjustments that were necessary to win the game. It was certainly closer than we hoped, and every Packer fan had to be having heart palpitations during parts of the third and fourth quarters, but when it counted, the offense drove down the field to score more points (unfortunately, only a field goal), and then the defense rose up and forced a turnover on downs.
Let's relish this win, and look forward to the fact that the Packers are well positioned to have more shots at the Super Bowl in the coming years.
Occasional ramblings by Tom Freeman, a life-long Green Bay Packers fan, season ticket holder, and shareholder, now living on the idyllic Central Coast of California. My articles were previously published on the South End Zone web site.