It’s going to be the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl, a fact that makes me very happy. These are clearly the two best, the two most well -rounded teams in the NFL and hopefully should put on a good show and give us fans a close game . I am also happy because the owners of these teams have a special place in my heart . The Steelers and the Packers are among the oldest NFL franchises .The Rooney’s , who own the Steelers , are the nearest thing to football royalty . They are football people through and through , one of the last remaining families( along with the Maras) that bought into the fledgling NFL . They are not Johnny- come- latelies like Jerry Jones or faceless business titans for whom owning a NFL team is like having a trophy wife. As for the Packers , they are the only publicly owned team in the NFL. What could be finer.
There was a certain symmetry to yesterday’s games as the Packers and Steelers both threatened to put the games away early only to have their opponents battle back in the second half and make it close .
In the first game , the Packers had already jumped out to a 14 -0 lead before I switched on the TV and I thought it was going to be a runaway win . But , at least from the moment I started watching , Aaron Rodgers seemed to have an off game . He was a far cry from the quarterback who had shredded the Atlanta Falcon defense the week before. Granted , one of his interceptions was bad luck ; the other was thrown almost directly into the hands of Brian Urlacher . Still, I have to credit Rodgers for making what was surely a TD -saving tackle.
Either the Chicago defense got better or Rodgers got worse as the game wore on , probably more of the former . Luckily , the Green Bay defense continued to play well in spite of surrendering two quick TDs to third string QB Caleb Hanie . I don’t think most Bear fans had heard of Hanie before yesterday’s game but they sure know it now . The kid from Colorado State played with incredible poise for someone who had barely seen action in the NFL and almost pulled off an upset .
During the game , I didn’t think much about Jay Cutler’s injury and certainly didn’t question it’s seriousness. The Twitterings from other NFL players took me by surprise. Prior to yesterday’s game , Cutler had the reputation of being able to take a beating and still keep ticking so this reaction comes as a surprise.Regardless , the Bear fans seem to be think that if he was well enough to walk he should have come back and continued to play. I don’t know about that but I don’t think he is the franchise QB that Chicago needs either. Cutler always struck me as a me-first type and his play was spotty at best . He performed well against the lesser teams but fell apart when he came up against a tough defense. Nothing definitive has yet been said about his injury but , at this point , it would seem that Cutler is finished in Chicago. Next season … Hanie perhaps ?
When the Steelers were leading 24-0 in the first half , few would have given the Jets any chance . What happened in the second half was a complete reversal of form as the two teams appeared to switch personalities. All of a sudden it was the Steelers who were unable to get a first down while the Jets looked like they were going to score every time they got the ball. The Steelers stout goal line stand temporarily calmed the fears of Steeler Nation but the very next play resulted in a safety . Sanchez looked good as he led the Jets to another TD and got the Jets to within 5 but too much time had been used up and I was not surprised to see the Steelers run out the clock. The happiest moment for me yesterday was when Big Ben threw for a first down with less than a minute left and we were treated to the sight of Jet head coach Rex Ryan ripping off his headset and throwing it on the turf.I don’t like Ryan’s brash, loudmouth style which has rubbed off on his players ; it was good to see him get his comeuppance.
I see that the Packers have been installed as the early 2 -1/2 point favorites for the Super Bowl and I must say that I’m surprised. The two teams are very close but I’d have thought that the Steelers would be slight favorites. Both teams have good defenses. On offense , the Steelers would appear to have the better running attack while the passing offenses are about equal . Aaron Rodgers has the better stats but Roethlisberger somehow seems to get the job done , scrambling out of trouble and finding the open receiver. The difference I think is in the coaching where Dick Lebeau’s defensive genius and Mike Tomlin’s unflappability under pressure give the Steelers the edge . I can’t fault Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers but I think they are second best in the match-up with Tomlin and LeBeau.
So why am I rooting for the Packers ? Well , it’s because I like Aaron Rodgers ( I think he’s the antithesis of Brett Favre) and would like to see him erase any lingering memories of Favre in the minds of Packer fans . Besides , the Steelers have already won more Lombardi trophies than any other team and I’d love to see the Packers get one for a change .
At yesterday’s game one Packer fan held up a sign which said
Kick @ss in the Super Bowl
That says it all. GO PACKERS !!