Crazy isn’t it?
To think back to some of the games throughout the season and know how little hope some Packers fans (me) had in the team making the playoffs is crazy.
Those back-to-back overtime losses against Washington and Miami seemed like backbreakers. And considering I’m stuck in Redskins country, I had to hear about it more than I needed to. Actually, Skins fans will continue to bring up beating the eventual World Champs.
That’s fine, though, because the Packers are the World Champs.
What a great Super Bowl. My heart started pounding through my chest around the top of the 6 o’clock hour. The family was having burritos, and the TV was left on in the kitchen to watch the pregame festivities — rarely is the TV ever left on during dinner.
After inhaling three burritos, I raced back upstairs to watch the game. I declined an invitation to watch the game downstairs on the even-bigger screen. Chalk it up to superstition.
I posted the same “Go Pack Go” YouTube video as my status as I had done before the previous playoff games. I donned an Aaron Rodgers jersey and black sweatpants and put on a Packers hat backwards. The hat was a new addition to the regular lineup, and it didn’t disappoint (more on that later).
My computer was off to the side with Twitter and the ESPN comment section for the Super Bowl open. I enjoy reading instant reactions.
So with the annoying Glee product placement singer and botched National Anthem out of the way, it was time for kickoff, which seemed a bit rushed; Joe Buck didn’t have time to do the what-seems-like-usual “..And Super Bowl 45 is underway…*ball kicked*).
It was a decent return, like many other kickoff returns against the Packers. O, Packers special teams, how many games hast thou forfeited?
The Steelers go three-and-out and punt. Packers punt returner Tramon Williams muffs the catch and my heart drops. “Are you kidding me?” I asked out loud.
Luckily, the Packers recovered. Now looking back, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the Steelers did? Cue alternate history timeline.
The Steelers use the short field to go up 7-0. Aaron Rodgers drives to midfield but a dropped pass ends the series. Pittsburgh, now sensing even more Packers nerves, converts a deep pass to the five-yard line. Rashard Mendenhall runs it in, and it’s 14-0 Steelers early. Rodgers attempts to make a valiant effort for a comeback but it’s too late. The game eventually ends 37-21 for Pittsburgh, and the world hears about the Steelers every minute of the offseason. Ben Roethlisberger is immediately crowned a future Hall of Famer.
Yuck. Even imagining that is hard to do.
It just so happens it’s the Packers who go up 7-0 first on a perfect pass from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson on 3rd and 1. I scream like a banshee (S.L.A.B., remember that). I can’t take being down in any game, not even down by one. I just like knowing that the other team has to score somehow to tie or go ahead.
My pounding hearts calms a tad until WOOSH! Nick Collins swoops in to intercept a Roethlisberger pass, and Collins streaks toward the endzone. Now, I’ve always had an irrational fear of a fumble after any and every interception I witness. So this feeling is multiplied by 1,000 since it’s the Super Bowl.
Collins dives from inside the five and into the endzone sending me into SLAB mode. UNBELIEVABLE! IS THIS REAL LIFE? DOUBLE TOUCHDOWN ALL THE WAY!
14-0 already? NOICE! Oh, and I also have a ridiculously stupid fear of seeing my team miss extra points after each score. I hate myself for it. But the point is made, and I’m feeling great.
Games are so much more enjoyable when your team is up by 14, wouldn’t you say?
As a fan of the San Jose Sharks, I know a thing or two about choking. Naturally my brain’s tainted logic lobe started working and reminded me, “Ray, these two touchdowns were way too early in the game. Think about all the football and hockey games you’ve watched where one teams jumps out on top before getting slaughtered the rest of the way.”
Here come the Steelers marching down the field to score 3 points. My mind fast-forwards to the end of the game where the Packers are down by 3 and need to kick a field goal to send the game to overtime. All because of that second-quarter field goal. It ruined EVERYTHING. (Clearly Mason Crosby missed the tying FG in my fast-forward daydream.)
This is how my brain operates during a game. Fun, huh?
So I decide to turn my hat forwards to get some new mojo, and alas, it’s another Packers interception! Jarrett Bush! Jarrett Bush? Gotta be some mistake. You mean the Jarrett Bush who rivals Ahmad Carroll as worst defensive back in the history of mankind? You mean the Jarrett Bush that gets burned even by putting his hand on a room temperature piece of papers? YES. SLAB! I love you, Jarrett. Never doubted you for a second, buddy.
OK, but can the Packers capitalize? They do. Rodgers to Greg Jennings over the middle, and Jennings gets walloped by Troy Polamalu.
SLAB. 21-3. 21-3! Over my most hated opponent in all of sports? Simply stunning.
Things can’t remain this good for my team, though. I see Donald Driver out with an injury. Sam Shields goes down with a shoulder injury. And then Charles Woodson goes down with a shoulder injury. Wow. Really? This is happening to my team. At the Super Bowl. Three critical players all injured. They had enough injuries in the regular season to last a decade.
Maybe they can play after halftime, though. The score is 21-10. Then the reports come in: Driver, questionable. Shields, questionable. Woodson, out. WHAT?! WOODSON OUT? This can’t be. A broken collarbone.
It’s over. Give the title to Pittsburgh. The defense has now reverted back to the 2009 days when Roethlisberger threw for over 500 yards against the Packers.
I change my hat back to backwards to try to regain some of the first quarter magic.
And it starts. The Packers can’t get anything going on offense in the third quarter, and Pittsburgh scores on their first possession. 21-17, just like that. I reminisce about the 21-3 lead. It was so young. Where does the hour go?
Enough of the backwards hat. Let’s go sideways to the left.
Pittsburgh starts driving at the end of the third quarter and I’m feeling awful. As far as I’m considered, the entire East Coast was just hit with a tsunami of pessimism. I think ahead.
“Can I really make it through a year (a lifetime, really) of Steelers fans bringing up this game?”
“Why am I a fan of teams who constantly choke on the big stage?”
“Why isn’t Roethlisberger in jail?”
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is Clay Matthews and his hair is the Sun!
Forced fumble by the Claymaker! Packers recover! SLAB.
It would be stellar for my heart health for the Packers to score a touchdown here. But it’s now 3rd and 10. Hopefully they can gain a bit of ground for a coffin corner punt. Jordy Nelson says No. He catches a pass and takes it 38 yards to the Steelers 2. Rejoice.
Two plays later it’s a touchdown to Jennings. Putting the team on his back! 28-17. I can live with an 11-point lead this late in the game. Well, 4:23 later, Pittsburgh scores. AND they make the two-point conversion. 28-25. Wow.
If you’ve learned anything so far, you know where my mind’s at.
Yes, I think one character at a time in situations so dire.
Time for another hat change. Sideways and to the right (which would be the last position it would be in).
Next drive, the Packers are looking at a 3-and-out. Here it is. The breaking point. Pittsburgh will take the next drive and go up 32-28. Watch. WATCH.
Nope. Rodgers on another 3rd and 10 completes to Jennings for 31 yards. Man, Rodgers is good. How is he doing this? How is he not throwing late-game interceptions that cost playoff games?
Now with 1st and Goal, I’m feeling optimistic for the first time. We’ve been scoring touchdowns easily. No way they stop us and make us a kick a field goal. NO WAY I TELL YOU.
“…And Crosby makes it 31-25 with a 23-yard field goal.”
This is why I can’t have nice things. No more optimism pour moi.
I’ve seen this situation before. If the Steelers score, they win by one point. December 2009. Steelers defeat Packers, 37-36. Ah yes, of course.
So here we go. Go ahead Roethlisberger. Two minutes left. I know you will drive them down to at least the Packers 20. You’ll probably have a good 45 seconds left too. Stick the dagger in me now, America.
Easy pass to Heath Miller for 15 yards. Yep, I told you. Five-yard pass to Hines Ward. Here it is, setting something up. Incomplete pass. That means nothing. Here comes the deep ball. Incomplete deep ball. Whoa. What’s going on? It’s 4th down ALREADY? Eh, no sweat. Go ahead Ben, make this the first of 3 fourth downs you convert on the game-winning drive.
SLAB. SLAB. SLAB. I break my bed. Bedlam. I cannot believe…what I just saw. Super Bowl Champs! Wait, is there a flag? No flag! Super Bowl Champs! We just beat the freakin’ Steelers!
There was about a full two minutes of yelling in excitement before I settled down to watch the trophy presentation. Nothing but smiles on my end. I patiently waited to see the only commercial I want to see: “Packers fans! Your team just won the Super Bowl! Here’s your chance to own…” When it finally came on, the victory just barely started to sink in.
The Aaron Rodgers “I’m going to Disney World!” commercial came on the next day and it became more real.
What a great feeling. And the feeling won’t leave for another year. That’s a great feeling about another great feeling. Sorry, that’s confusing.
Anyway, that was my stream of consciousness during the game. My voice was raspy a couple days later, and I probably burst a few blood cells.
It was worth it.
Oh, and the hat? That’s all true. I changed right around those times.
Crazy isn’t it?