18. Super Bowl XLV, 2011: Green Bay 31—Pittsburgh 25
Having fully extricated himself from the shadow of Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers made his Super Bowl debut against the always formidable Steelers. In a matchup that brought joy to any purist, the Packers jumped out early but were forced to cling to a late lead against Mike Tomlin’s battle-tested Pittsburgh squad.
Competitiveness: 8 out of 10. This had all of the earmarks of a blowout, as Rodgers and the Packers led 21-3 with just over two minutes to go in the second half. A furious rally led by Ben Roethlisberger eventually brought the Steelers to within three, and the Packers needed a final stop in the last two minutes in order to preserve the victory.
Star Power: 9 out of 10. Rodgers and Roethlisberger are all time greats. Both head coaches Mike Tomlin and Mike McCarthy have won championships and could make it into the Hall of Fame, as could Hines Ward, Clay Matthews and Antonio Brown. Charles Woodson will be in the Hall Of Fame.
Intrigue/Controversy: 7 out of 10. Green Bay had gambled heavily on Aaron Rodgers a couple seasons earlier, bitterly parting company with Brett Favre and turning the job over to the young quarterback. Rodgers’ brilliant play verified that the team had made the correct decision. Roethlisberger lost for the first time in three trips to the Super Bowl but was outstanding in almost dragging the Steelers to an unlikely comeback.
Aftermath: 8 out of 10. The contest between two of the league’s great franchises featured remarkable play by a new generation of quarterbacks under the tutelage of two young, accomplished coaches. The impressive hybrid of tradition and new blood underscored the ongoing state of the NFL as the sports world’s major power broker.
Aggregate Score: 32 out of 40.Back to top