Sunday, February 06, 2011

Super Bowl XLV post mortem

Much has already been made of the three turnovers by the Steelers' offense. However, the "21 points off of turnovers" mantra that are certain to hear ad nauseum misses the mark. While turnovers do not help, the real culprit for the loss can be found elsewhere.

Certainly the interception return for a touchdown was huge ~ inasmuch as the final margin of Green Bay's victory was six points it seems clear that that particular turnover was significant. The Rashard Mendenhall fumble at the beginning of the fourth quarter was most immediately significant because it kept the Steelers from adding to their own point total. But the bigger problem can be found in the aftermath of the fumble ~ the Steelers' defense.

To go back to Ben Roethlisberger's first interception, the Packers ended up with the football at their own 47 yard line. The Steelers defense barely put up a fight as the Packers went 53 yards in four plays. Similarly, the Packers took over after the Mendenhall fumble at their own 45 yard line. Eight plays later the Packers completed their 55-yard drive for another touchdown.

Why does the Steelers' defense not get some of the blame here?

Turnovers happen in football, and three turnovers in Super Bowl XLV is a disappointment; but other than the pick-six the defense had an opportunity to pick-up their teammates. Instead, the Packers offense moved smartly down the field for points.

Underscoring this point about the Steelers defense is the 70-yard Green Bay drive for a field goal that chewed up 5:27. The offense continually came back from its errors to make the game close. Except for the third quarter what did the vaunted Steelers defense contribute?

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