Brandt: Super-competitive balance

Some post-thoughts from Gil Brandt:

ARLINGTON, Texas — Green Bay’s win in Super Bowl XLV is a tribute to the competitive balance in the NFL. The Packers can thank NFC North rival Detroit for beating Tampa Bay. Had Detroit not beaten the Buccaneers in Week 16, the Packers wouldn’t have made the playoffs to begin with, let alone won the title. That’s how close things are in this league.

We’ve had only had three 10-6 teams make it to the Super Bowl, and all three have won. The 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII, the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, and now the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

Somewhere, Pete Rozelle -– who envisioned this competitive balance –- is smiling.

The Packers’ win reminded us how important turnovers are in this game. Without the turnovers, Green Bay probably wouldn’t have won. And while technically not a turnover, you have to count the second-and-1 play in the first quarter, when Pittsburgh was called for illegal procedure. It kept them from scoring on that drive and, I thought, was really a key play. It’s not a turnover in the books, but it amounted to the same.

There were a lot of unsung heroes in this game. Cornerback Tramon Williams isn’t unsung –- he was outstanding. But rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga also was a key performer. He didn’t stop Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley from extending his record streak of having at least one sack in his first seven postseason games, but he allowed just the one sack and the Packers ‘offensive line as a whole gave Aaron Rodgers enough time to throw for 304 yards.

One other note: Green Bay is the first team since the Detroit Lions in 1962 to never trail by more than seven points in a regular season or postseason game. In fact, they never trailed in this game at all. That seems surprising given how loud the Steelers fans were when Pittsburgh rallied to make a game of it in the third quarter.

Green Bay held on to capture the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl title and 13th overall NFL championship. The Steelers still lead in the clubhouse with six Lombardi Trophies, but this Packers team could challenge that total. The Packers are among the youngest teams in the NFL, and they get a lot of injured players back next season.

The future is bright for Titletown.

– Gil Brandt

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