The 2010 Packers may not be the best team to win the Lombardi Trophy, but they’re definitely one of the gutsiest. To advance to the postseason without Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, Mark Tauscher, Mike Neal, Nick Barnett, Brandon Chillar, Brad Jones and Morgan Burnett is impressive enough, but to win the Super Bowl without those players – plus Charles Woodson, Donald Driver and Erik Walden – borders on the miraculous. But that’s what can happen when a team has 53, or in this case, 68 men with big hearts and small egos.
In many ways, Sunday’s win over the Steelers was a microcosm of the entire season. As per usual, the most important players stepped up. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers carved up the league’s No. 1 defense. Wide receiver Greg Jennings caught only four passes, but two went for touchdowns and another converted a crucial 3rd-and-10 with under 6:00 left. Left tackle Chad Clifton kept fearsome pass rusher James Harrison relatively quiet. Linebacker Clay Matthews changed the momentum of the game by forcing a fumble with Pittsburgh driving for the possible go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter. Safety Nick Collins returned an interception for a touchdown. And Tramon Williams once again ended things by making a terrific play on the ball. But the Packers wouldn’t be world champions if only the stars shined. It took a total team effort to get to Dallas and it took a total team effort to leave Cowboys Stadium with a victory.
Running back James Starks averaged 4.7 yards against the league’s best run defense. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson was the No. 4 receiver for most of the season, but he looked like a No. 1 on this night. The former Kansas State star caught 9 passes for 140 yards. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga held his own against LaMarr Woodley, one of the most athletic and talented players in the league. Defensive lineman Howard Green forced an interception by hitting Ben Roethlisberger just as he released the ball. Linebacker Frank Zombo had 5 tackles and a sack after missing the last six games with a knee injury. And cornerback Jarrett Bush came up with an interception that led to Green Bay’s third touchdown.
Thanks to great performances by big names and not-so-big names, the Green Bay Packers are world champions once again. That’s sure to make Rodgers, general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy the toast of Titletown. They deserve it. Despite all the barbs they took 29 months ago, these hard-working and talented men have now accomplished as much in three seasons together as legends Brett Favre, Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren accomplished in seven. Fittingly, their vindication is the perfect denouement to a plot so implausible that even Stephen King wouldn’t dare write it. But it’s real. Just check out who’ll be holding the Lombardi Trophy at Lambeau Field on Tuesday.