Monday, February 7, 2011
They hadn't been able to stop Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on fourth-and-7 or third-and-10 on a decisive final drive last season. They also knew Roethlisberger had beaten the Arizona Cardinals with a touchdown pass in the final minute of the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
Tramon Williams, arguably the Packers' best cornerback this season, found himself in coverage when Roethlisberger targeted wide receiver Mike Wallace on the fourth-and-5 play with 56 seconds remaining and Green Bay leading, 31-25.
In the end, the quarterback with no Super Bowl rings bested the one who already had two.
"We put everything on his shoulders," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said of Rodgers. "He did a lot at the line of scrimmage against a great defense. He did a hell of a job."
Trailing by six with just under two minutes remaining, and starting at his own 13-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger couldn't lead the Steelers on a final scoring drive.
Roethlisberger threw two interceptions in the first half, but recovered to complete 25-of-40 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns for the AFC champions.
But it wasn't enough. Trying to win another Super Bowl title for a city that has an NFL-best six already, Roethlisberger felt like he let all of Pittsburgh down.
"I don't blame anyone but myself," he said. "It's not a good feeling."
Not so much for Wallace. The Steelers' big-play receiver thought Williams arrived early.
"Yeah, the guy kind of ran into me before the ball got there," said Wallace, who caught nine passes for 89 yards, including one for a 25-yard score. "The referee was about to throw his flag and he kind of took his hand off his hip, and it is what it is."
Woodson, 34, hadn't missed a game since 2007. He was the NFL's defensive player of the year for 2009 and the Packers' undisputed leader on defense. He watched the final play with a broken collarbone, his arm in a sling. Watching Williams break up Roethlisberger's final pass had to ease some of the pain.