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Subscriber Exclusive SUPER BOWL XLV: AN ORAL HISTORY

'We came out like a whirlwind tornado'

10 years later, players and coaches reflect on Packers' unlikely run to the Super Bowl XLV championship

Published Updated

10 years later, players and coaches reflect on Packers' unlikely run to the Super Bowl XLV championship

Published Updated

At first, cornerback Tramon Williams was hesitant to celebrate.

Up 31-25 with 56 seconds left in Super Bowl XLV, the Green Bay Packers’ defense needed a fourth-down stop against the Pittsburgh Steelers to secure the title. When Williams landed on his feet after tipping Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s pass away from the outstretched arms of wide receiver Mike Wallace, he clapped his hands and pumped his fist.

But then Williams saw Wallace, sprawled on the turf after their airborne battle, calling for a defensive pass interference penalty. Williams whipped his head around, too, in search of the yellow flag that could stand in the way of the team’s first Super Bowl victory since 1996.

The Feb. 7, 2011, issue of the Green Bay Press-Gazette marked the Packers' 13th NFL championship after winning Super Bowl XLV.
The Feb. 7, 2011, issue of the Green Bay Press-Gazette marked the Packers' 13th NFL championship after winning Super Bowl XLV.
USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

It never came.

Few expected the sixth seed, the team with 15 players on injured reserve, the group faced with five straight must-win games, including three playoff games on the road, to even reach the Super Bowl, much less win it. So when the reality of the moment, the fact there were no more trials to overcome, finally hit the self-described “naturally relaxed” Williams, he became emotional. Williams embraced safety Nick Collins and linebacker Desmond Bishop and cried, “We did it!”

“I began to talk because going into the game, everybody was kind of still picking Pittsburgh to win and maybe rightfully so,” Williams told PackersNews. “They were saying that we haven't been there before. We're not going to, when it comes to crunch time, we're not going to be able to perform. Big Ben has been there before. He's won it, he's did that and he's did that. And that's cool. They were exactly right. But we was a different team, man. We was a different team.

“It was definitely a year to be remembered.”

Ten years later, those memories from the season remain vivid. Seventeen players and coaches from the 2010 Packers spoke with PackersNews to recount the story of the young, resilient team that feared no one, not even a Steelers team that made their third Super Bowl appearance in six seasons.

‘I slept like a baby’

‘I slept like a baby’

Although the Steelers were an AFC opponent, the Packers had recent experience going up against them. The Packers had played the Steelers on the road in Week 15 of the 2009 season. It ended in a 37-36 Steelers victory; however, the Packers broke down that film and learned from their shortcomings in their preparation for Super Bowl XLV.

In 2010, the Packers went 10-6 in the regular season, winning their final two games at home against the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears to secure the sixth seed in the NFC. They took down the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and Bears on the road in the playoffs to earn a spot in the title game.

After a week of preparation in snow-stricken Dallas, the Packers left the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving, Texas, and arrived at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, five hours before kickoff.

Wide receiver James Jones: “Oh, I slept like a baby. And to be honest with you, I thought that we were gonna win because when I had woke up, I had slept so good, I was asking everybody else how they slept. I remember asking Aaron (Rodgers) like, ‘Man, did you sleep last night?’ And he was like, ‘Heck yeah, I slept.’ He was like, ‘Man, I slept like a baby.’ I'm talking to Greg (Jennings). He's like, ‘Dude, I slept real good. I don't know if it's the beds and all that.’ And I'm like, ‘Man, everybody I asked said they slept good.’ I'm like, ‘Man, that tells me that we're super relaxed and ready to go and the moment is not too big for us.’”

Cornerback Charles Woodson: “One of my fondest memories of that time is the night before the Super Bowl, before our meeting that Saturday night, all of the players got together, surrounded a piano that was there. We had a young man on our team (defensive end C.J. Wilson) that could play the piano. So he started playing, then all of a sudden down there in that room, everybody just started singing different tunes that he was playing. I remember us being so loose, so ready for the moment that I knew right then and there, or I felt right then and there, that we were gonna win that game.”

Williams: “It was something about that team that we were just in the moment. We were relaxed and ready for whatever was coming. I think that's what it was and at the same time, we enjoyed it while we was there. We was able to relax and enjoy the Super Bowl experience.”

Right guard Josh Sitton: “I remember having a ball in my stomach from the second I woke up. I remember the drive to the stadium. It felt like a 10-hour drive and I could see the stadium way off the highway. And I remember (Packers tackle) Chad (Clifton) … do you remember the highlights from the ‘96 Super Bowl of Reggie White spilling that (Patriots) offensive tackle, he's just tossing him? Before he got on the team bus or maybe even on the team bus, Chad was like, ‘Man, I just don't want to be that tackle that gets on the highlight, like the Reggie dude.' I'm thinking, God, here's an 11-year Pro Bowl tackle. And you know, he's always steady and very chill. So, I just remember that drive to the stadium felt like forever.”

Right tackle Bryan Bulaga, the youngest player ever to start in a Super Bowl: “I just remember pulling up and walking in the locker room and sitting down at my locker and just kind of being like, we're really doing this. This is about to happen. We're about to play in the Super Bowl. And it's a surreal feeling and, especially as a rookie, you just want to try to not screw up too much."

Inside linebacker A.J. Hawk: “I remember sitting in my locker, I probably drank like nine cups of coffee just sitting there waiting just because I was bored, basically. And I enjoy coffee. Yeah, I killed a whole thermos of black coffee they had in there.”

Settling in

Settling in

The Steelers were the away team and called tails during the coin toss. It was heads and Rodgers informed referee Walt Anderson the Packers would defer. It was a logical decision the way the Packers’ defense had been performing and the decision was a good one. The Packers' defense dominated the first quarter, allowing one first down on Pittsburgh’s first three series.

It took two series for the offense to dig in. Bulaga gave up a pair of pressures and a quarterback hit in the first two series. The Packers had prepared well for outside pass rushers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley and whatever legendary Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau would do with multi-purpose safety Troy Polamalu.

Head coach Mike McCarthy: “I tell my coaches this story; it was maybe Thursday during the week and one of their (the Steelers’) coaches made a comment in the paper about the ‘09 game, and said, ‘We’re not taking (nose tackle) Casey Hampton off the field.’ The comment was basically that they were going to stay in base personnel. And (offensive coordinator) Joe Philbin and I were having coffee that morning and I said, ‘Hey, your line coach doesn’t want to hear it, but if they put base defense on the field, I may throw it every snap.’ He was like, ‘Uh oh.’ I thought it was a big part in the game and I think it was a big part of Aaron’s performance.”

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Mike McCarthy
Joe Philbin and I were having coffee that morning and I said, ‘Hey, your line coach doesn’t want to hear it, but if they put base defense on the field, I may throw it every snap.’ He was like, ‘Uh oh.’

Center Scott Wells: “I can totally understand Mike saying that, that when he's on the field, we're going to throw it because he wasn't a pass rusher. That wasn't his strength.  And you look at the guys that have it, especially in passing downs, they had gotten after a lot of quarterbacks that year and their pass rush was strong. I remember watching it all through the playoffs and watching how good their pass rush was because how much field Polamalu could cover on the back end. He was involved with everything. So, they could really allow those guys up front to rush. James Harrison, if you tried double teaming him, that gets you one-on-one with the guy on the other side (Woodley).”

Fullback John Kuhn: “We were facing the No. 1 defense. We're facing the defensive player of the year (Polamalu). We have to have our stuff tight. We need to have our t's crossed and our i's dotted. And we did just that. I'm telling you, some of the blitzes that they showed us in the game, especially in the first quarter, the stuff that they brought at us early, we were practicing not just down there in Dallas, we were walking through those at Lambeau Field before we ever even left to go to Dallas. So that's the type of preparation that our offensive coaches put us through and really part of the reason why we had such success early in that ballgame while we were able to pull away.”

Taking an early lead

Taking an early lead

In a span of just under 5 minutes, the Packers turned the game and all the momentum in their favor. Starting at their own 20, they drove to the Pittsburgh 29, where Rodgers made the first of several brilliant throws, connecting with receiver Jordy Nelson for a 29-yard touchdown on a third and 1.

Sitton: “It was actually a screen that we probably ran a hundred times prior to that. And he (Rodgers) has never once ever thrown the ball to the fade route. But it was an option — but it's like the third option or whatever. And he waits until the Super Bowl to pull that off. That was really, really cool. I remember thinking, wait, what? Brandon Jackson was the back and I was like, ‘Why doesn’t Brandon have the ball?’ And then I look up and Jordy’s catching the touchdown.”

Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson catches a pass for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay (22) in Super Bowl XLV, in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.
Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson catches a pass for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay (22) in... Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson catches a pass for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay (22) in Super Bowl XLV, in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.
Benny Sieu/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

McCarthy: "(William) Gay jumped up on Jordy bump and run and Aaron just looked at him and that’s just one of the things during the week, he felt he was a favorable matchup when he was in bump. I wasn’t expecting bump and run there. That was Aaron and Jordy there. That was a great conversion by those two.”

Nelson: "Aaron did signal to me to let me know to run the route to win. With all that, I believe it was the Miami Dolphins game earlier that year, Aaron tapped his helmet and I didn't catch the signal. I didn't know. And I ran a 15-yard comeback and Aaron threw a go ball and I got the classic reaction and I was confused. And then I was later informed that I missed the signal and that I should have run a go route. Fast forward two to three months later, he uses the exact same signal in the Super Bowl and I definitely was not going to miss that one. So yeah, he reached up and tapped his helmet, which was just to run a go route."  

Howard Green's big moment

Howard Green's big moment

After the score, the Steelers started on their own 7, and on the first play Roethlisberger pump-faked to Wallace, giving defensive tackle Howard Green time to steam past guard Chris Kemoeatu and hit Roethlisberger’s arm. The fluttering ball was picked off by safety Nick Collins and returned 37 yards for a touchdown to give Green Bay a 14-0 lead.

Williams: “I was on Mike Wallace. He ran a double move. I didn't bite on the double move at all like. I'm going to be the first one to tell you: Mike is fast. So, I can remember just running with Mike and while running with him, I heard the crowd. That's what made me kind of stop. I heard the crowd, 'Ah!' and I look back, Nick’s got the ball. So, he was throwing it to my guy, but I guess he gets hit when he threw the ball. So, the ball is super short. Nick is breaking on the ball already. He gets the interception.”

Howard Green's pressure of Ben Roethlisberger forces an errant pass, picked off by Packers safety Nick Collins, who returns it for a touchdown. Howard Green's pressure of Ben Roethlisberger forces an errant pass, picked off by Packers safety Nick Collins, who returns it for a touchdown. Howard Green's pressure of Ben Roethlisberger forces an errant pass, picked off by Packers safety Nick Collins, who returns it for a touchdown. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Hawk: “I remember looking in and seeing Howard getting a bunch of penetration. And I wasn't 100 percent sure that he had hit Ben's arm, but then I do remember as the ball went up, it was fluttering. And I saw Nick and I instantly got excited, too, because Nick was such a great player and he was so fast. He always knows how to score. And I'm like, this dude Nick is going to score. So, I instantly try to get out there and get a block for him. I think I might've missed; I don't know if I even touched anybody. Maybe I barely got a hold of someone. Nick is so quick and agile and has such great feel. He's running like a 4.2 40, dodging and bobbing and weaving between everybody and finds a way to score. I remember how excited I was that that happened early on and how excited I was for Howard to be the guy that forced that. Howard's one of those guys that without him, we wouldn't win the Super Bowl that year.” 

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers: "I've always felt that if you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers and if you have a defense that's tough on your opposing quarterback, that's a winning combination. I kept statistics for a lot of years, but the last Packers Super Bowl win when they had Brett Favre and Reggie White and all that, they'd beaten the Carolina Panthers, which I was the head coach of, in the NFC championship game. They were tremendous against opposing quarterbacks. So, when you have a quarterback like Brett Favre and a defense like they had then, quarterback like Aaron Rodgers and a defense like we had in 2010, it's hard to beat.”

Headed for a blowout

Headed for a blowout

Midway through the second quarter the most unlikely of playmakers, special teams star Jarrett Bush, picked off Roethlisberger on second and 11 at the Green Bay 49. Bush was serving as the dime cornerback but would later be a starter when injuries struck. After Bush’s interception, Rodgers went to work and made the first of three critical completions to receiver Greg Jennings that broke the Steelers’ back. He somehow fit the ball past diving safety Ryan Clark, and with Polamalu closing in from the deep middle for a big hit, Jennings hung on for a 21-yard TD catch. The Packers went ahead, 21-3, and were in total control of the game.

Bush: “It was a routine throw, Mike Wallace ran a shallow cross, 5 yards or so. I’m playing the ‘3’ receiver hook. No. 2 ran a ‘7’ (corner route) and (tight end) Heath (Miller) ran up the seam. So, I just baited him like I was going to take Heath up the seam and then fell off because I knew it was a routine throw. I knew the seam was going to take me away from the coverage from where Ben Roethlisberger wanted to throw. So, I baited him and just jumped it. I saw him wind up, I saw his eyes go to Mike Wallace and I just jumped it because I knew it was coming off of film study. I was walking on cloud nine.”

Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings (85) catches a pass for a touchdown ahead of Pittsburgh Steelers defender Ryan Clark (25) in the first half of Super Bowl XLV, in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.
Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings (85) catches a pass for a touchdown ahead of Pittsburgh Steelers defender Ryan Clark (25) in the first half... Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings (85) catches a pass for a touchdown ahead of Pittsburgh Steelers defender Ryan Clark (25) in the first half of Super Bowl XLV, in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.
Benny Sieu/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Jones: “We'd seen that Troy Polamalu at that stage of his career was kind of losing a step and we had a lot of youngsters on our team with some speed and route-running that we felt like could take advantage of Troy Polamalu in the situations and the scheme that he was playing. He was a risk-taker and we watched on film that he would put himself in some situations that we knew we could take advantage of. And the same with William Gay. We watched on film how he'd get his eyes caught in the backfield a lot. We knew that he wasn't really special at press coverage. So, whenever we did get him in third down and they were able to get some press coverage, we knew that these were guys that we could take advantage of.”

McCarthy: “We were just so ready. I think with the two weeks we were just so ready to play. I felt our guys were so jacked up. We came out like a whirlwind tornado and I think our preparation and just their confidence was so evident at the beginning of the game. I have friends in the Steelers organization who said that game could have been a two- or three-score game easily at halftime.”

Injury bug hits again

Injury bug hits again

 As quickly as the Packers gained control, their fortunes took a wrong turn when in the second quarter receiver Donald Driver suffered a severe left ankle injury, cornerback Sam Shields injured his shoulder and Collins left for the locker room for an IV because he was dehydrated. And then the heart and soul of the team, Woodson, landed awkwardly on his left shoulder on a deep ball just after the 2-minute warning. He played one more play, but then left with what turned out to be a broken left collarbone. Seldom-used Pat Lee came in for Shields and Bush played for Woodson. The Steelers scored just before the half to close the lead to 21-10.

Nelson:  "I figured I would have a role in the game, but not nearly as significant of one as I did once Donald got hurt. It would have been a little bit more of a nerve-wracking week if I would've known that. I played more two-receiver sets than what I normally would have done. Then when we went to three-receiver sets, JJ would come in and I would move into the slot to where Donald went. I just kinda just took his position for the most part."

Hawk: “I knew watching Charles and watching the trainers with him, I definitely knew, all right, we have to plan on moving forward if Charles isn't going to be here. He's not going to be able to come back in the game. I instantly felt terrible for him and knew that we've got to, man, we need to do something. We cannot lose this. We knew what it meant to Charles, too. And he got us here. We definitely have to win this thing. It's like the whole next-man-up type mentality, but luckily for us, we had a lot of guys that had ... it wasn't like this was going to be their first action.”

Capers: “There were a number of things in the game plan to try to feature Charles because he was a unique player. So, we were trying to get him matched up and he not only could cover, but he was a good blitzer and we blitzed him a lot that year." 

Green Bay Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush (24) intercepts a pass intended for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) as Packers Sam Shields (37) looks on in the second half of Super Bowl XLV, in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, February 6, 2011.
Green Bay Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush (24) intercepts a pass intended for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) as Packers Sam Shields (37) looks... Green Bay Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush (24) intercepts a pass intended for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) as Packers Sam Shields (37) looks on in the second half of Super Bowl XLV, in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, February 6, 2011.
Benny Sieu/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

McCarthy: “The first half I can remember coming into the locker room thinking, this is a microcosm of our entire season. We’ve been through this all year, no big deal. Halftime is long. Charles was emotional at halftime. Right at the end, he was real emotional. At the team call-up he had some final words. He was awesome. Think about it, a Hall of Fame career and he gets to that point, there was some emotion."

Safety Charlie Peprah (after the game): “Charles tried to address the team and he could only get about five words out. He was choked up and disappointed, but also he knew that we could finish it off. He just let us know how bad he wanted it. He was like, ‘You know how bad I want this’ and that’s all he could say. He just got choked up and right there he didn’t need to say anymore. So, we went out there and tried to get the win for him.”

Williams: “We felt what he was trying to say and that alone, it felt like that energy was kind of transferred from him to us when we felt that. We was like, 'Man, we've got to go out and we've got to win this thing.'"

Remembering Super Bowl XLV with Tramon Williams
Tramon Williams reflects on how the chemistry among the Packers cornerbacks shaped him to become a key part of the Super Bowl XLV championship team.
Olivia Reiner, Packers News
Momentum swings Pittsburgh's way

Momentum swings Pittsburgh's way

The Packers got the ball to start the third quarter and on third and 5 at the Packers 25, Rodgers zipped a perfect pass to Jones running an in-route on Gay. With Polamalu on the other side of the field, Jones may not have been caught, but he dropped the ball. The Steelers pounded the ball on the ground as Capers tried to protect his broken secondary and Rashard Mendenhall finished off a five-play, 50-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run that made it 21-17.

McCarthy: “We came out of that and we were struggling. They got going in the third quarter and that game is so much about momentum. You definitely have to take advantage of your opportunities.”

Capers: “The thing I was thinking the whole time is we've come this far, don't let some injuries stop us now because we had been on such a roll the last two regular-season games, going on the road and winning every game, making big plays. Doing the things we had to do to win games.”

'It is time'

'It is time'

The game was a stalemate through the rest of the third quarter. The Packers kept dropping passes — Nelson had his second, Brett Swain had one — and heading into the fourth quarter had stalled on three straight drives. The last one ended on their own 8 and a punt gave the Steelers the ball at their own 41. After Mendenhall’s 8-yard carry ended the third quarter, linebackers coach Kevin Greene made his famous plea for a game-changing play to linebacker Clay Matthews, telling him, “It is time.” Matthews came through, making a call to defensive tackle Ryan Pickett to "spill it", which allowed him to shoot upfield and make Mendenhall cough it up, Bishop recovered and the Packers were back in control.

Capers: “Kevin was like a son to me because I had him at Pittsburgh in '94. He led the league in sacks. I took him to Carolina with me in '96. He led the league in sacks. Brought him up to Green Bay and he was there the first five years. I thought Kevin probably had as much to do with Clay Matthews' success because I think Clay made the Pro Bowl every year the first five years. I think the passion that Kevin Greene had for the game, you could not be around him and not feel it. He was as passionate a person as a player. Probably got as much out of his ability as anybody I've been around. He was just such a positive guy, a big influence I think on Clay's career and as you saw there in the Super Bowl, that was truly Kevin there. That was as real as it is and that's the way he coached every day and that's the way he lived his life. I think we can all take a lesson from that.”

A turning point in Super Bowl XLV: Clay Matthews forces a Rashard Mendenhall fumble, recovered by Desmond Bishop. A turning point in Super Bowl XLV: Clay Matthews forces a Rashard Mendenhall fumble, recovered by Desmond Bishop. A turning point in Super Bowl XLV: Clay Matthews forces a Rashard Mendenhall fumble, recovered by Desmond Bishop. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Hawk: "I'm just kinda playing down the line, trying to play over the top of everybody. I saw Clay make the play in the backfield with Pickett and started trailing Bishop running over top of him because he saw the ball pop up."

Bishop: “I was about to blitz in and make a play.I seen Clay and Pickett already beat me there, so I was like, ‘Oh shoot, I've gotta get to my responsibility now cause they're doing their job. Now if I'm out of place, then it'll be on me. I seen the ball fly in the air and I was just thinking, ‘I have to get to this ball before anybody else does.’ And it was like, nothing in the world could stop me from going to go pick up that ball. I would always joke on people or be kind of perplexed how the ball's on the ground, you know how people try to dive on it and it squirts out and 50 people can't (recover it)? I'm like, ‘Oh my God, just get the ball!”

Remembering Super Bowl XLV with Desmond Bishop
Desmond Bishop reflects on his fumble recovery in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLV and how the play unfolded.
Olivia Reiner, Packers News
Rodgers and Nelson connect again

Rodgers and Nelson connect again

The Packers still needed to cash in on the turnover. Jones dug out a low throw from Rodgers on third and 7, but Nelson dropped a wide-open pass across the middle on second and 10. Rodgers came right back to him on a play that covered 38 yards and set up Jennings for an 8-yard touchdown catch on a corner route he had earlier urged Rodgers to throw to him. That gave the Packers a 27-17 lead with 12:03 left. The connection with Nelson brought everything together – a keen Rodgers audible, a deft blitz pickup, an alert route adjustment and a catch-and-run that tied it all together. 

McCarthy: "They brought a corner blitz and it really started with a protection adjustment. It was a great job by Aaron and the line. We recognized the blitz, I think the nickel was soft on the slot to the (other side), they came, and Aaron comes off and throws it in rhythm on the backside on an in-route. Jordy had dropped the ball right before that. I remember, that’s the kind of stuff, it’s so big, especially in big games. You just have to keep playing because Aaron goes right back to him. And that’s a huge play. That’s actually where Jordy hurt himself. He blew out his knee bursa sac."

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) runs past Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) in the second half of Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday Feb. 6, 2011.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) runs past Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) in the second half of Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday Feb. 6, 2011.
Tom Lynn/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Nelson: “There's a lot going on in that play. Originally, I saw Cover-2, then the corner came, so then it could have changed, but the safety rotated down and the other safety rotated over (to his side). So then that put me back into a two-shell route, which would be the basic cross again."

Offensive line coach James Campen: “I can’t remember the name of the pressure, but we hadn’t had one of those in three years. Three years and all of a sudden your memory — bang, there it is — and Aaron’s on it — bang, over here — and then Bulaga picks up his guy and Josh gets his and Brandon picks up the (cornerback). Jordy knew he was coming. That’s just terrific awareness of these guys. It was great for them and the quarterback to recognize it, it’s like the recall and the importance of it was so magnified. Some teams hope to pick that up. The Green Bay Packers, you expect to pick that up in a championship game.”

Jennings in the clutch

Jennings in the clutch

With the Packers' secondary beat up, the Steelers came right back and drove 66 yards on seven plays, scoring on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Wallace against Shields, who had returned to the game but couldn’t use his injured shoulder. A 2-point conversion made it 28-25 with 7:34 to go, setting up one of the most memorable drives of the season, the key play a 31-yard completion to Jennings thrown between two defenders on third and 10.

Sitton: “I still remember him (Rodgers) coming into the huddle before the drive and saying something like, ‘We’ve got to make a big play. Let's put the game away.’ Then we ended up getting negative yards and I was like, ‘Oh, no, we’re about to give it back to them.’ And then he makes the absolute perfect throw. I don’t know how Greg catches that ball. It's one of the most incredible catches I’ve ever seen because that ball got touched right before he got it.”

Nelson: “I remember watching it. It only got better when I saw highlights and (cornerback) Ike Taylor actually tips the ball. It made it all that more impressive and probably more frustrating for them.” 

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings (85) catches a fourth-quarter touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings (85) catches a fourth-quarter touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.
Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

McCarthy: “The post route vs. two-man, there’s a lot that goes into that, him trusting and he throws it right in rhythm and he throws a dart and Greg sticks that outside foot and just snaps it. It’s a great route, throw, catch. They have a good coverage for that route, just the execution between them two, that’s a clinic. That’s the stuff you teach.”

Tramon's big breakup

Tramon's big breakup

Jones’ 21-yard catch sets up kicker Mason Crosby’s 23-yard field goal that gave the Packers a 31-25 lead with 2:07 left. A roughing penalty on the Steelers on the ensuing kickoff forced them to start from their own 13. After completions of 15 and 5 yards, Roethlisberger threw incomplete twice. On fourth and 5, Roethlisberger threw to Wallace with Williams in coverage.

Hawk: “Ben is famous for that (comebacks). It's what he does. And I remember being on the field in the moment. I'm like, man, we're up six. That's not good. We need to be up at least seven. And thinking like these guys are gonna be going for the end zone. I've watched Ben do this a lot. So, I knew that going into that series and I knew we had to play well. And it was up to us. But I was like, once again, going back to the whole thing, I also at the same time was like man, we are not losing the Super Bowl.”

Celebrations erupt on the field and the Packers' sideline after Pittsburgh's fourth-down incompletion seals the victory. Celebrations erupt on the field and the Packers' sideline after Pittsburgh's fourth-down incompletion seals the victory. Celebrations erupt on the field and the Packers' sideline after Pittsburgh's fourth-down incompletion seals the victory. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Capers: “Ben Roethlisberger at that time, he was a unique quarterback because he would feel pressure and he would look for pressure and if you had a seam in your pressure, he would step up and then slide and throw the ball. He was exceptional at it. So, our rushing lanes were very important. We ended up, because of his success at doing that, we had A.J. Hawk kind of spy rush him many, many times. So, whenever he'd step up in that seam, we'd bring A.J. Hawk into that seam, into his face. As a matter of fact, the last call of the game, on fourth down was that call.”

Williams: “I can really see the play developing in slow motion. I had my eyes on the quarterback at the time, on Big Ben, but I can see the void in the field where the area is open. Most of the time, playing football for so long and playing the way that I did, you know when the void clears out that it's opening up for something to go there. And I knew, I said, ‘Man, this void is opening up.’ The question in my head is when do I break? Because I know it's going there. I kind of held off, held off, held off and then I broke in just enough time to try to get underneath the receiver and Ben threw up a pretty solid ball, because I was going underneath to try to get the interception, but he threw the ball high. I was still able to get my hands in there and get my hand on the ball.”

Reality sets in

Reality sets in

There were no flags and the ball went back to the Packers on downs and Rodgers ran two kneel-downs to run out the clock, setting off the confetti drop and a whole lot of celebrating.

Williams: “It takes a minute to hit me, first and foremost, because they're looking for flags. They want a flag, they want an interference. So, I'm looking around to make sure the ref don't throw no flag. So he don't throw the flag. I think everybody else sees it and then the emotions start to run. And then I begin to talk. I don't know what I'm saying.”

Bishop: “It was almost a disbelief. Like, is it over? Did we win? Or do we have to do something else? Or is it a flag? And then once it sinks that, oh, it's over, you won the Super Bowl and then all of ... I remember being maybe 6 years old, all my brothers and cousins in San Francisco going outside after football games and throwing the ball to each other and having a scenario like it's one second on the clock and the last play of the game, gotta throw it up and score a touchdown or run a touchdown or get a tackle or whatever scenarios, but it was always to win the Super Bowl.”

Wells: “I was so hyper-focused on my job, which serves me well in my career, but I was so hyper focused on my job that when the game ended, I started shaking their hands. Like it was the end of every other game. And I got through about five people and I remember I was like, 'We just won the Super Bowl.'" 

Campen: “I think took my hip pack off, my headphones off, (tight ends coach) Jerry (Fontenot) said, ‘I’m coming down.’ I’m like, ‘Hurry up, get down here.’ It’s weird. I’m driving right now and I’m tearing up. ‘Your Super Bowl champion.’ I remember looking to my left and looking at that corner board and they had that ‘G’ with the XLV and the Lombardi Trophy and it kept circling and circling, ‘World Champions’. I sort of got fixated on that.”

Jones: “I remember I was standing right next to 'D Drive' and I remember us having a conversation the night before, just like, 'Are you gonna cry? What's your emotions gonna be?' And I told him straight up, I said, 'Man, we win this game, the tears are just gon' come rolling down. I'm not gon' be able to control my emotions.' And I just remember telling him just where I've come from, where you've come from, us both being homeless, growing up homeless. Seeing Tramon knock that ball down and seeing that confetti come down and you're the best in the world, but not only are you the best in the world, just everything you have overcome to get to that moment. It all just built up and I just remember us both looking at each other and once it started falling, man, we both gave each other a hug and the tears was just rolling down.”

Packers injuries during 2010 season
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    31 players who spent time on the 53-man roster missed at least one game due to injury.

    12 starters missed at least one game due to injury.

    86 games were missed by starters due to injury.

    180 games were missed by all players due to injury.

15 players were placed on injured reserve (regular-season games missed):

    • *RB Ryan Grant (ankle, 15)

    • S Anthony Smith (ankle, 6)

    • S Derrick Martin (knee, 11)

    • TE Spencer Havner (hamstring, 5)

    • *S Morgan Burnett (knee, 12)

    • OLB Brady Poppinga (knee, 10)

    • OLB Brandon Chillar (shoulder, 8)

    • *ILB Nick Barnett (wrist, 12)

    • *OLB Brad Jones (knee, shoulder 10)

    • *T Mark Tauscher (shoulder, 12)

    • T Marshall Newhouse (back, 1)

    • *TE Jermichael Finley (knee, 11)

    • DE Justin Harrell (knee, 15)

    • DE Mike Neal (abdomen, shoulder, 14)

    • CB Josh Bell (foot, injured in training camp)

Others injured who missed at least one game (injury, games missed):

    • *QB Aaron Rodgers (concussion, 1)

    • *LB Clay Matthews (hamstring, 1)

    • *WR Donald Driver (thigh, 1)

    • *DE Ryan Pickett (ankle, 2)

    • *DE Cullen Jenkins (calf, 5)

    • CB Sam Shields (calf, 2)

    • ILB Desmond Bishop (hamstring, 1)

    • S Charlie Peprah (thigh, 2)

    • CB Pat Lee (ankle, 4)

    • S Atari Bigby (hamstring, groin 4)

    • TE Andrew Quarless (shoulder, 1)

    • *FB Korey Hall (hip, back, knee, 4)

    • OLB Frank Zombo (knee, 3)

    • FB Quinn Johnson (glute, 2)

    • CB Brandon Underwood (shoulder, 2)

    • RB Dimitri Nance (ankle, 2)

    • LB Diyral Briggs (ankle, 1)

    *Starters

Players injured in Super Bowl XLV:

    • Sam Shields, shoulder. Left in first half, came back in the fourth, dropped out again

    • Donald Driver, sprained left ankle in first half, did not return

    • Charles Woodson, broke left collarbone, did not return

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Glossary: Who we talked to

Glossary: Who we talked to

Desmond Bishop: Packers inside linebacker, recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter and helped seal the Super Bowl victory for the Packers.

Bryan Bulaga: Packers right tackle, became the youngest player to start in a Super Bowl in NFL history (21 years, 322 days).

Jarrett Bush: Packers cornerback, picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the Packers’ second interception of the game.

James Campen: Packers offensive line coach from 2007-2018 and current Houston Texans offensive line coach.

Dom Capers: Packers defensive coordinator from 2009-2017 and current senior defensive assistant for the Detroit Lions.

Mason Crosby: Packers kicker and one of two Super Bowl XLV champions on the current roster.

Howard Green: Packers nose tackle, hit Roethlisberger in the first quarter and forced him to throw an interception to safety Nick Collins, who returned the ball for a touchdown.

AJ Hawk: Packers inside linebacker, led the team with 111 tackles in 2010.

James Jones: Packers wide receiver, made a critical fourth-quarter catch to set up a touchdown for Greg Jennings.

John Kuhn: Packers fullback and former Steelers Super Bowl XL champion.

Clay Matthews: Packers outside linebacker, forced a fumble with nose tackle Ryan Pickett on running back Rashard Mendenhall in the fourth quarter.

Mike McCarthy: Packers head coach from 2006-2018 and current Dallas Cowboys head coach.

Jordy Nelson: Packers wide receiver, caught a touchdown in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLV.

Charlie Peprah: Packers safety and special teams player.

Aaron Rodgers: Packers quarterback and three-time MVP award winner.

Josh Sitton: Packers right guard.

Scott Wells: Packers center.

Tramon Williams: Packers cornerback, had a pass breakup on the Steelers’ final down of the game.

Charles Woodson: Packers cornerback who broke his collarbone during Super Bowl XLV and soon-to-be member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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