The Big One is Here
The Big One is Here

The Big One is Here

The big one is here! The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers will play in Super Bowl XLV in suburban Dallas this Sunday, February 6, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. It matches two premier football franchises.

More than 100,000 fans are expected to fill Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX for the game, with Fox televising the game to an audience of more than 100 million in the United States. Worldwide, the game will be televised in more than 200 countries and available to approximately 1 billion viewers.

This is the 45th annual edition of the Super Bowl in American football, and the 41st annual championship game of the modern-era National Football League (NFL). The game features the AFC champion Steelers against the NFC champion Packers. Surprisingly, this is the first Super Bowl in the Dallas–Fort Worth area; and the third time it will be held in Texas (Houston was the host city to Super Bowls VIII and XXXVIII).

This marks the eighth Super Bowl appearance for the Steelers (who hold the record with six Super Bowl wins) and the fifth for the Packers (who hold the record with 12 overall NFL titles, including three Super Bowl wins and nine league titles prior to the Super Bowl-era). This will be the fourth time that two pre-expansion era (pre 1960) teams meet in the Super Bowl (Super Bowl XIV, Super Bowl XLI, and Super Bowl XLIII).

As of January 28, the Packers are two to three point favorites, making this the first Super Bowl in which the Steelers were underdogs since Super Bowl XXX. In all four previous Super Bowls that Green Bay played in, they were favored to win. The Steelers and Packers did not play each other this season. The last time the two teams met was December 20, 2009 when the Steelers defeated the Packers 37–36 at Heinz Field. That game was marked by four lead changes in the fourth quarter and a game-winning touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace as time expired.

Pittsburgh finished the 2010 season with a 12–4 record. They earned the AFC North division title, and the second seed in the AFC. Roethlisberger finished the season with 3,200 yards and 17 touchdowns, with only 5 interceptions, giving him a 97 passer rating. He also rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns. The team’s top receiver was Wallace who caught 60 passes for 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns, giving him a 21 yards per catch average.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, already the youngest coach to ever win a Super Bowl, became the youngest coach ever to make it to the Super Bowl twice (age 38).

Green Bay finished the season with a 10–6 record and became only the second no. 6 seed to reach the Super Bowl. They defeated the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field two Sundays ago. The only other no. 6 seed to reach the Super Bowl was the Steelers, who won Super Bowl XL following the 2005 season.

The offense was led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was in his third year as a starter after taking over for the team’s all time leading passer Brett Favre. Rodgers finished the season completing 65.7% of his passes for 3,912 yards and 28 touchdowns, with only ten interceptions, giving him his second consecutive season with a triple digit passer rating (101.2). As a rusher, Rodgers added 356 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. His top target was pro bowl receiver Greg Jennings, who caught 76 passes for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns, a 16.6 yards per catch average.

Did you know?  Fifteen former Mid-American Conference players are participating in Sunday’s event. The MAC is tied with the Big Ten Conference (15) with the second-most players on Super Bowl XLV rosters among FBS conferences, trailing only the SEC, which has 18 players participating in the game.

Former MAC players on the Green Bay roster: safety Atari Bigby (Central Florida), LB Diyral Briggs (Bowling Green), TE Tom Crabtree (Miami-Ohio), CB Josh Gordy (Central Michigan University), DT Cullen Jenkins (CMU),  WR Greg Jennings (Western Michigan University) OL T.J. Lang (Easter Michigan University), RB James Starks (Buffalo) and LB Frank Zombo (CMU).

Former MAC players on the Steelers roster: QB Charlie Batch (EMU), WR Antonio Brown (CMU), LB James Harrison (Kent State), QB Byron Leftwich (Marshall), Roethlisberger (Miami-Ohio) and kicker Shaun Suisham (Bowling Green).

Jack Buck and Troy Aikman call the game on Fox with Pam Oliver and Chris Myers on the sidleines. Kevin Harlan and Boomer Esiason do the honors for CBS/Westwood One with James Lofton and Mark Malone on the sidelines. The Fox pregame, halftime and post-game honors go to Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan and Jimmy Johnson. Jim Gray and Scott Graham handle those duties on the radio-side.

Walt Anderson has honor of being the referee for Sunday’s game. He joined the NFL as a game official in 1996 and since then he has worked playoff games in every year of eligibility, including five Wild Card, two Divisional, three Championship games, and two Super Bowls: Super Bowl XXXV in 2000 and Super Bowl XLV in 2011. Anderson cites Super Bowl XXXV as being his most memorable game.

Did you know that for Super Bowl I (then called the NFL-AFL World Championship Game) both CBS and NBC televised the game? CBS used play-by-play veterans Ray Scott and Jack Whitaker with analyst Frank Gifford and sideline reporter Pat Summerall. NBC used Curt Gowdy on play-by-play with Paul Christman on color and Charlie Jones on the sidelines.

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Written by
George Eichorn