Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 31 March 2015

Green Bay celebrate but will the NFL party end?

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Chad Clifton #76 of the Green Bay Packers holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl XLV 31-25 against the at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: MVP Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers holds up The Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers holds up The Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: C.J. Wilson #98, T.J. Lang #70 and Ryan Pickett #79 of the Green Bay Packers dump Gatorade on head coach Mike McCarthy after they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: C.J. Wilson #98, T.J. Lang #70 and Ryan Pickett #79 of the Green Bay Packers dump Gatorade on head coach Mike McCarthy after they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas and Slash perform during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: will.i.am and Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas perform during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Jarrett Bush #24 of the Green Bay Packers intercepts a pass against Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourt quarter during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs for 25 yard touchdown after catching a pass against Sam Shields #37 of the Green Bay Packers during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: (L-R) apl.de.ap, Fergie, will.i.am and Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas perform during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas performs with Slash during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN - FEBRUARY 7: In this photo provided by ISAF Regional Command (South), (L-R) Spc. Justin Webberly, Spc. Don Ellen, Pfc. Matthew Reynolds and Sgt. Cedric Allen of the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum in New York, react to a touchdown as they watch the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLV football game between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers on February 7, 2011 at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Photo by Matthew Diaz/U.S. Army via Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: The Black Eyed Peas perform during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Hines Ward #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches an eight yard touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas performs with Slash during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: will.i.am, Fergie and Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas perform during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Nick Collins #36 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with Clay Matthews #52 against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: A view of Dallas Cowboys Stadium as jets flyover prior to Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after catching a 29 yard touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Singer Christina Aguilera (R) and Matthew Rutler attend the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Pregame Show at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers runs onto the field with teammates before Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Actor Michael Douglas walks on the sidelines before the Pittsburgh Steelers play against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Actor Owen Wilson looks on before the Pittsburgh Steelers play against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: The Green Bay Packers play the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: A view of Dallas Cowboys Stadium as jets flyover prior to Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Actor Hugh Jackman looks on before the Pittsburgh Steelers play against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Former MMA Champion Chuck Liddell looks on before Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Actors Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: The Green Bay Packers kickoff to start the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Actor Owen Wilson is interviewed before the Pittsburgh Steelers play against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Singer Christina Aguilera attends the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Pregame Show at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Actor Owen Wilson attends the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Pregame Show at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after catching a 29 yard touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Singer Christina Aguilera performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Pregame Show at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Singer Christina Aguilera attends the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Pregame Show at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: TV personality Maria Menounos attends the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Pregame Show at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: TV personality Maria Menounos attends the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Pregame Show at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Playboy models Jessica Hall, left, Brandie Moses and Amber Campisi attend the Dallas SuperBash 2011 Super Bowl party hosted by Pam Anderson at the Fashion Industry Gallery on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
Actress Pamela Anderson arrives to host the Dallas SuperBash 2011 Super Bowl party at the Fashion Industry Gallery on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.
DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Actor Adrian Grenier (L) and NFL player Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints attend the GREY GOOSE lounge series during Super Bowl weekend at the GREY GOOSE Lounge on February 5, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for GREY GOOSE)

There was joy unconfined in northern Wisconsin, and the sour hangover of failure in Pittsburgh.

But one unwelcome guest intruded at a nailbiting Super Bowl XLV: the nagging thought that Sunday’s season finale might just be the last National Football League game played in calendar 2011.

Yesterday, fans lined the streets of Green Bay to welcome home the city’s beloved Packers after their 31-25 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas — the franchise’s first NFL championship in 14 years and only the second since the era of master coach Vince Lombardi ended almost half a century ago.

It was by any standards an epic contest, its outcome in doubt until just 49 seconds from the end when the Steeler’s last drive foundered on a fourth down incompletion. The ball was back with the Packers, and America’s biggest and gaudiest sporting prize was on its way back to ‘Titletown.’

Up to that moment though, the game had fluctuated with stomach churning intensity for the teams and their fans.

The Packers surged to an early lead of 21-3, before Pittsburgh pegged them back with a touchdown on the verge of half time.

After another Steelers score early in the third period, Green Bay was wobbling, only for Aaron Rodgers, to throw an eight yard pass into the endzone to give Green Bay a 28-17 lead.

But Pittsburgh stormed back once more, with a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, followed by a two point conversion.

Green Bay extended their lead again with a field goal two minutes from the end.

Had that final drive succeeded, the Steelers might have pulled out a 32-31 victory that would have sealed the biggest comeback in Super Bowl History.

Instead, the star of the show — and Super Bowl XLV’s most valuable player — was Rodgers, who with three touchdown passes, finally closed the page on his predecessor Brett Favre, and established himself as one of the game’s marquee quarterbacks in his own right.

“I’m so proud of the composure he showed these last few years,” Packers running back Ryan Grant said of the 27-year-old Rodgers. “They might not stop comparing Favre and him or who-ever. But he’s a champion now too, and there are only so many in the game who can say that.”

Green Bay’s other hero was coach Mike McCarthy who kept the team on course through a season fraught with injuries, in which the Packers only made the playoffs as a wild card, and had to defeat each of the three NFC top seeds on the road.

And McCarthy had his players measured up for their Super Bowl victory rings on the day before: “No disrespect to the Steelers, but we expected to win this game. I told them this was their time.” And it was. For the Steelers, though, it was a tale of mistakes, for which they were made to pay dearly. But the NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement expires on March 31, and the players union and the owners are far from agreement on a new one.

All logic suggests a deal will be struck, to preserve a goose that lays such golden eggs. Protracted labour disputes however are far from uncommon in major league US sport, costing baseball the 1994 World Series, and hockey its entire 2004/2005 season.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre