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In the end, the Green Bay Packers seemed to want the Lombardi Trophy just a bit more than the Pittsburgh Steelers did. And though there were times when neither team seemed able to maintain its grasp, the Packers held on to win Super Bowl XLV, 31-25.
The Packers got out to an early 21-3 lead, scoring two of their first three touchdowns directly off Ben Roethlisberger(notes) interceptions, but the Steelers came back with two touchdowns of their own -- one at the end of the first half and one at the start of the second -- as defensive backs Charles Woodson(notes), Nick Collins(notes), and Sam Shields(notes) went to the locker room before halftime with injuries. Woodson didn't return; his absence was the result of a collarbone injury, and it definitely impacted Green Bay's defense.
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But just when the Steelers got within four points and saw the momentum shift their way, running back Rashard Mendenhall(notes) fumbled on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving Green Bay the ball on their own 45-yard line. Emboldened by this good fortune, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers(notes) overcame several receiver drops on outstanding throws to drive the Pack 55 yards for a touchdown in eight plays. The score was then 28-17, and the Steelers still hadn't ever seen the lead, but they came back to make the score 28-25 on the very next drive, as Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward(notes) and Mike Wallace(notes) on key passes halfway through the fourth quarter, and Antwaan Randle El(notes) took a pitch outside for a successful two-point conversion.
Neither team played a balanced game -- Green Bay could never get its running game going, and Roethlisberger seemed to dampen the Steelers' passing attack with a killer mistake for every big play. But even though Rodgers had been impacted more and more as the game went on by his team's inability to stick to the run, the Packers came back to life at the right time -- at about the five-minute mark -- when Rodgers hit Greg Jennings(notes) with a huge 31-yard pass over the middle on third down, and then running back James Starks(notes) hit the hole for 14 more yards on what was only Green Bay's 10th rushing play. A quick pass to the drop-plagued James Jones(notes) got Rodgers and his offense inside the Pittsburgh 10-yard line, and then a series of quick passes took time off the clock in the same way that many teams would have used running plays.
However, Jordy Nelson(notes) could not bring in the lob fade from Rodgers on third down, and Mason Crosby's(notes) field goal made the score 31-25 with 2:07 left in the game. A penalty on Steelers linebacker Keyaron Fox(notes) in the ensuing kickoff put the Steelers at their own 13-yard line at the two-minute warning.
The last time Roethlisberger was in a Super Bowl, it was two years ago against the Arizona Cardinals, and he had to drive 78 yards down 23-20, with 2:30 left in the game. He did so, and the Steelers beat the Cardinals on a rollout pass to Santonio Holmes(notes), but there would be no such drama for Big Ben this time. Three straight incomplete passes gave the ball back to the Packers, who ran out the clock.
The Lombardi Trophy returned to its original home, and the Green Bay Packers became the World Champions.
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