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Even in Loss, Mike Tomlin Still Wins

The Pittsburgh Steelers were gracious after their Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers, not offering up excuses for their defeat but speaking solely about the facts of the game. Most of that no-excuse, take responsibility attitude comes from their coach, Mike Tomlin, who never messes around (except when he’s watching Jersey Shore.”

After his team suffered the crushing defeat, Tomlin showed no bitterness and was only complimentary of his opponent. He also took responsibility for what his team did not achieve, saying “They made plays. It’s probably less about what we were unable to do and more about what they were able to do. We can sit here and make excuses, I will not. What I will do is say Green Bay played a really good football game and made the necessary plays to be world champs.”

Tomlin refused to make any excuses, conceding that “we had injuries, they had injuries, we had a plan, they had a plan. We tried to execute ours, they executed theirs a little bit better.” He also refused to blame the refs, instead saying they did a “really good job” in the game.

We also learned during his one-on-one interview after the loss that he greeted each player personally at the locker room, explaining that it was “standard operating procedure” for the Steelers.

With a coach who handles his business as professionally as Mike Tomlin does, it’s no surprise the Steelers have had the success under him that they have. Professional, responsible, courteous, and straight forward. Mike Tomlin truly gets it and he has proven to us that even in a loss you can still win.

And to think, somehow this man was supposedly “too hip-hop” for the Dolphins. What a joke.

Green Bay Packers Followed Patriots, Saints’ Blueprint to Beating Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers went 12-4 during the regular season, losing only to the Ravens, Saints, Patriots, and Jets. They allowed the fewest points per game in the league, and their rush defense was one of the best all time. With a defense so strong, how could the Steelers be beat? As we found out this season, it wasn’t by trying to run on them, but rather by spreading them out and throwing.

It was this observation that led both Doc and Del to pick the Packers to win the Super Bowl, and the game played out as we expected. The Packers opened up the game throwing, then they continued to throw, and they threw even more. Green Bay attempted 39 passes while rushing just 11 times (78% passes). They gained 304 yards in the air and 52 on the ground (85% of their yards through the air), showing that their plan was to throw (specifically to Jordy Nelson) on Pittsburgh.

Like we pointed out during our predictions, we figured the Packers would follow the model started by the Saints and Patriots during the regular season. On Halloween, the Saints beat the Steelers 20-10. Drew Brees went 34/44 for 305 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick in that game. New Orleans ran it 18 times for just 32 yards, meaning they passed 71% of the time and gained 90% of their yards in the air.

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Jordy Nelson Super Bowl Drops Make Us Wonder What Could Have Been

The Green Bay Packers won the game. At the end of the day, nothing else matters. Aaron Rodgers became a deserving Super Bowl MVP and finally got his championship belt.  There will be no curse of Brett Favre, as the Packers have now won as many rings since his departure as they did when he was leading the charge.  The trophy has come back to Titletown.

All that important stuff being said, let’s take a minute to think about what could have been for Jordy Nelson had he hung on to everything that was thrown his way.  Rodgers finished the game with an impressive 111.5 passer rating, one that would have been a lot higher without several drops from his receiving corps.  Nelson finished with nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown — an astounding stat line considering he dropped three perfectly-thrown balls.

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Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers Disneyland Commercial (Video)

Aaron Rodgers continued his hot stretch in the playoffs with a fantastic performance in the Super Bowl. The third-year starter went 24/39 (including several drops) for 309 yards and three touchdowns, easily earning Super Bowl MVP honors. In addition to a Chevy Camaro which let’s be real, a starting NFL quarterback needs less than a linebacker chasing him, the Super Bowl MVP gets a trip to Disneyland. Rodgers made the announcement — a paid sponsorship from Disney — in some of the easiest money he’s made. Here’s the Aaron Rodgers Disneyland commercial video that I will never get sick of seeing:

Congratulations, Rodgers, between the masterful way you handled replacing Brett Favre to the superior work ethic shown throughout the year, you certainly earned it.

Troy Polamalu Hurt Steelers in Pass Coverage During Super Bowl Loss

Count me as someone who felt Troy Polamalu was undeserving as Defensive Player of the Year. While he had a wonderful season, I felt the media weighed some of his notable, big plays too heavily, without realizing the shortcomings in the rest of his game. Though Polamalu’s great at making jarring hits and causing turnovers with his balls-out passion, he’s also suspect in pass defense because of his aggression.

Take for instance what happened in the Super Bowl. Polamalu was responsible for allowing the Packers their two biggest plays on the touchdown drive that made the score 28-17 in the fourth quarter. On a 3rd and 10 from the 40, the Steelers came with weak side blitz, meaning Polamalu was supposed to step up and cover Jordy Nelson. Instead, Polamalu got spun around and started going the wrong direction. When Rodgers hit Nelson on a deep slant, Polamalu was nowhere to be found to make the tackle. The result was Nelson taking the ball down to the two yard line.

Two plays later, it was more of the same for Polamalu who was out of position in pass defense. The Packers went with a five-wide set and the Steelers countered by keeping seven players in coverage, rushing four. Each receiver was covered one-on-one, plus the safeties were taking one side of the end zone. Packers receiver Greg Jennings was on the inside of the three men to Rodgers’ right, and he ran a soft corner route. As you can see in the pictures below, Polamalu was leaning the wrong direction on Jennings’ cut (which was extremely soft), and he was a good five yards away from Jennings.

Not only did Polamalu blow coverages on several occasions during the game, but Green Bay’s propensity for spreading the field and throwing constantly prevented Polamalu from what he does best — attack the quarterback. In many ways, Green Bay replicated what the Patriots did earlier in the season, cementing the proper gameplan to beating the Steelers (provided you have the offensive personnel).

Though Polamalu won Defensive Player of the Year over the man I felt should have won it, Clay Matthews, justice prevailed as Matthews won the prize that truly matters — the Super Bowl.

Ben Roethlisberger Shaves Beard After Losing Super Bowl XLV

Like so many other athletes (and writers), Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was growing out his facial hair in the form of a playoff beard. It was no Brett Keisel beard, but it got grizzly pretty quickly.

Immediately after losing the game, Roethlisberger took a razor to his face realizing his postseason luck had run out:

Two losses for Roethlisberger in the same night, or what I call a perfect evening.

Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers Gets Championship Belt

We called the Super Bowl a matchup of good vs. evil when we compared Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. Good prevailed, as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went 24/39 for 304 yards and three touchdown passes, winning MVP honors. He even received a championship belt to prove it:

For the whole background on Rodgers’ championship belt, read this. I think it’s safe to say 12 is now the real “People’s Champ.”