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Turnovers to Touchdowns: How the Packers Shut Down Big Ben and Won Super Bowl XLV

Regina Graham |
February 8, 2011 | 7:59 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

Mike McCarthy's defensive gameplan was the catalyst for the Packers' Super Bowl victory. (Creative Commons)
Mike McCarthy's defensive gameplan was the catalyst for the Packers' Super Bowl victory. (Creative Commons)

It's the one factor that caused the Green Bay Packers to walk away from football’s grandest stage as winners on Sunday.

Throughout Super Bowl XLV, the Pittsburgh Steelers practically gave away the ball to the Packers. Clay Matthews and Co. not only took the ball away from the Steelers, they figuratively and literally ran with it every time, scoring a combined 21 points off Steelers mistakes on their way to a 31-25 win. 

That differential was just enough to give Green Bay's storied franchise its first Super Bowl win in 14 years.

It was a surprise to see the Steelers, led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, turn the ball over not just once, but three times in the league’s most important game.

It’s hard to say which of the turnovers cost the Steelers what could have been their seventh Super Bowl win. But Rashard Mendenhall’s critical fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter was the most likely culprit. 

Green Bay was able to recover the ball and, roughly three minutes later, Greg Jennings scored the game-clinching touchdown to lock in the win.  The Steelers were never fully able to recover from the play.

Every turnover lost by a team reduces their chances of winning the game and a -3 turnover differential is nearly a death sentence.

In addition to having the curse of turnovers upon them, Big Ben was not a great help for the Steelers either. 

Roethlisberger was not throwing accurately in the game, often missing wide open receivers and causing them to attempt tricky catches.  The biggest mistake was when he missed a wide open look to Mike Wallace in the third quarter that would have guaranteed a touchdown and could have been the difference in the game. 

Some may point to the fact that Roethlisberger was not 100 percent in the game due to an injured right ankle that clearly was bothering him. 

The Packers took advantage, riding quarterback Aaron Rodgers' near flawless performance to a thrilling victory.

Rodgers played one of the best games of his life on that field, finishing 24-of-39 with 304 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was not afraid to trust Rodgers with the the ball, even against the Steelers' stingy defense, and his gamble paid off. 

As did his attention to detail on defense.

The Packers, who have racked up 111 points off turnovers this season alone, have been launched into an exclusive status as the only team in the NFL to reach the top 5 in that category for three consecutive years. McCarthy has been head coach for five seasons. Coincidence?

In the end, the Packers walked away with a win against a Steelers squad that many thought was going to take the game by storm. As well as Rodgers played, they have their opportunistic defense to thank for the win.


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