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Super Bowl XLV in-game analysis

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FIRST QUARTER

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first quarter drive chart

ARLINGTON, Texas – Big Ben's big mistake has put the Steelers in a hole at Cowboys Stadium.

Backed up on the Steelers' 7, Ben Roethlisberger(notes) underthrew a deep ball intended for Mike Wallace(notes). Nick Collins(notes) picked it off and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown, a score that put the Packers up 14-0.

The Packers' defensive line deserves some credit for the bad pass as it put heat on Roethlisberger near the goal line.

Roethlisberger misfired on a few passes in the first quarter, resulting in punts for the Steelers.

Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers(notes) missed Jordy Nelson(notes) on the Packers' first long-ball attempt of the Super Bowl. They made up for it on a second deep strike, as Nelson beat Steelers cornerback William Gay(notes) for a 29-yard touchdown with 3:44 left in the first quarter.

Key stat: 20-18; Passing/rushing yards for Roethlisberger

SECOND QUARTER

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second quarter drive chart

The Packers have the Steelers wobbly, but haven't delivered the knockout punch.

They made Roethlisberger pay for a big second-quarter mistake. Jarrett Bush intercepted a pass at midfield with 4:28 left and Rodgers cashed in four plays later with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings, giving Green Bay a 21-3 bulge.

But the Steelers responded when Ben Roethlisberger capped a 7-play, 77-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward. The key play of the Steelers' desperate scoring drive happened on the first snap, when Roethlisberger tossed a 37-yard strike to Antwaan Randle El. The offense kept up the momentum and gave life to the boisterous Steelers fans who are hopeful of a second-half comeback.

Key stat: 6 catches, 93 yards for Steelers veteran wideouts Ward and Randle El.

THIRD QUARTER

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third quarter drive chart

The Steelers roared back into the Super Bowl with smash mouth football.

It appeared as if Roethlisberger would pick on the Packers' ailing secondary, which suffered a huge blow when Charles Woodson went out with a shoulder injury. Instead, the Steelers rushed the ball on every play of their five-play, 50-yard drive. Rashard Mendenhall capped it with an 8-yard score.

The Steelers missed a great chance to seize the lead when Roethlisberger overthrew Wallace on a bomb on what should've been a go-ahead touchdown.

The Packers had only one first down in the quarter. James Harrison ended one Packers drive with a sack.

FOURTH QUARTER

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fourth quarter drive chart

The Packers' defense came up with the big plays when it mattered most.

Green Bay forced a Roethlisberger incompletion on fourth down with 49 seconds left and the Packers took a knee to cap their Super Bowl run.

But the biggest play of the game might have been Mendenhall's fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter. Leading 21-17, Clay Matthews hit the Steelers running back and Desmond Bishop recovered. The Packers marched down the field and Jennings scored on an 8-yard pass, his second of the night.

MVP Aaron Rodgers finished 24-of-39 for 304 yards and 3 TD passes.