With the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers meeting in Super Bowl 45, there was little doubt the Packers would be throwing the ball frequently. That’s been their offensive approach throughout the season, plus, the Steelers have one of the best run defenses all time.
The Packers held true to their gameplan early in the contest by throwing 66.7% of the time (10 out of 15 offensive plays) in the first quarter. The surprise factor was the matchup they identified as one to exploit: Jordy Nelson against William Gay.
Nelson was only fourth on the team in targets during the regular season with 64, well behind Greg Jennings’ team-leading 125. Even James Jones and Donald Driver saw much more action, receiving 87 and 84 looks from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, respectively. In the first quarter alone, Nelson was targeted five times, catching three passes for 47 yards including Green Bay’s first touchdown.
On the team’s previous drive, he let what could have been a 49-yard touchdown pass go through his hands.
Nelson’s five targets led the team by a wide margin — Jennings had two passes thrown his way and only three receivers caught a pass each.
Green Bay’s offense generally spreads out the opposing defense with multiple receiver sets, and Nelson is often their fourth receiver in the shotgun formation. It was apparent in the opening quarter that their plan was to target Nelson and exploit his matchup on Steelers corner back William Gay. It worked perfectly. Catching a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl? Not bad for a kid who played quarterback in high school.
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