A few more thoughts on Packers, Steelers

I’m getting ready for Monday’s edition of “Playbook” on NFL Network, and have started working my way through the game film from Super Bowl XLV. Here are a few of my initial observations I wanted to share. Make sure to check out the show today at 6:30 p.m. ET for more.

Here we go:

  • If you told me the Packers would lose both Donald Driver and Charles Woodson in the first half, I probably would have told you there was no way they could win. However, Jordy Nelson (9 catches, 140 yards, TD) did a wonderful job replacing Driver’s production. Jarrett Bush played well in the nickel for Woodson, and baited Ben Roethlisberger into his second interception. It’s an example of just how well the Packers draft and how deep and talented their roster is. They lost a significant player on each side of the ball and didn’t lose production. It’s a testament to the job done by Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. I thought this was significant.
  • The one storyline that didn’t materialize event though everyone thought it would, was the play of Doug Legursky in place of Maurkice Pouncey. Legursky did a wonderful job filling in. In fact, the Steelers dominated whenever they ran the ball, averaging 5.5 yards per carry on 23 attempts.
  • I bet today the Steelers are kicking themselves, wondering why they didn’t run the ball more. They simply didn’t run the ball early enough in the game, and weren’t committed to the run until the first possession of the second half, which ended in Rashard Mendenhall’s 8-yard touchdown. The film shows some great blocking by both tight ends — Matt Spaeth and Heath Miller — and left guard Chris Kemoeatu that allowed them to dominate when they did run.
  • The Packers came into the game believing they had the advantage on the outside with their receivers against the Steelers cornerbacks, and the game revealed that to be true. The Packers used a lot of hitch routes and seam routes to Greg Jennings and Nelson to dominate that area. While Aaron Rodgers was 24-of-39 passing, I counted at least seven drops by the Packers receivers. If you have that many drops and still put up the numbers in the passing game, it could have been a blowout. The Packers left too many plays on the field. It shows me just how talented Green Bay is.
  • The Steelers secondary clearly had trouble matching up against the Packers. The Packers attacked safeties Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu on both touchdowns by Jennings. They couldn’t make the plays. The athleticism of Rogers helped buy some time, and the Steelers did get three sacks, but it wasn’t enough to pressure him into bad throws. At the end of the day, it was about the Steelers not being able to hold up on the back end, even with Driver out. It was the Packers’ game plan to attack the cornerbacks, and that eventually opened up the entire field.

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