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Super Bowl Grades: Packers


Grading out the performances from the Packers' 31-25 win over Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl:

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers' numbers aren't in the Phil Simms/Joe Montana realm -- 24-for-39, 304 yards, three touchdowns -- but if his receivers had caught everything he put on their hands, he would have had one of those alltime Super Bowl stat lines. Rodgers' bigger achievement was controlling the tempo and the emotional flow of the game. He got rid of the ball quickly and threw the ball away when he had to so the Steelers' pass rush couldn't gain momentum. After his MVP performance, Rodgers now belongs in the same conversation with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger as one of the great quarterbacks in the NFL. Grade: A

Running backs: James Starks ran hard when he had a chance and had some nice plays in the first half. But coach Mike McCarthy had no interest in staying on the ground against the best run defense in the league and Starks had just 11 carries for 52 yards. Starks and fullback Korey Hall still deserve credit for helping protect Rodgers. Grade: B-plus

Receivers: From the first drive, the Packers could tell they had an advantage with Jordy Nelson over the Steelers' third and fourth cornerbacks. Nelson was Green Bay's most effective weapon with nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. He also had some costly drops that could have helped the Packers' establish a safer lead. Nevertheless, we've seen how comfortable Rodgers is with Nelson during the playoffs, so it shouldn't be too surprising he stepped up as a star on Sunday. The Steelers often had two defenders on No. 1 receiver Greg Jennings, and Rodgers didn't look his way for most of the game. Jennings did make two big plays in the fourth quarter -- a 21-yard touchdown and a big third-down catch for 31 yards. James Jones and Brett Swain, who filled in for an injured Donald Driver, also had a few bad drops. Jones seems to drop a potential touchdown every game, even though he makes up for it with big plays. Grade: B-

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Offensive Line: The Packers' offensive line did a remarkable job against the Steelers' fierce pass rush, allowing just three sacks even though Rodgers dropped back 39 times. Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga did a great job figuring out where the Steelers pressure was coming from and providing lanes for Rodgers to go to work. Grade: A

Defensive Line: The Packers' front started out playing well, but they never established a pass rush and Roethlisberger was way too comfortable for most of the second half. They had trouble getting any penetration and the Steelers had success on the ground. However, defensive tackle Howard Green did get to Roethlisberger once and knocked his arm, leading to a pick-six in the first half. Grade: C

Linebackers: Even though Clay Matthews didn't have any of his signature knockout blows, he never gives up on plays and caused a key fumble in the fourth quarter. Matthews and A.J. Hawk both made impressive athletic plays to tip Roethlisberger passes. And rookie Frank Zombo made a few nice plays, including a second-half sack. Overall, this unit didn't create the kind of havoc we're used to. They didn't get to the quarterback and had trouble containing Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall. Grade: B-

Secondary: This unit came up with two interceptions that were the key to the Packers' victory. Understandably, they had trouble adjusting after losing safety Charles Woodson and nickel cornerback Sam Shields to injuries. The Packers missed Woodson's ability to blitz and they had trouble staying with the Steelers' receivers in the second half. Cornerback Tramon Williams had a couple of early pass-defenses that prevented Ben Roethlisberger from getting into a rhythm. Grade: B+

Special Teams: Two dumb penalties on punts helped give the Steelers good field position in the second half, and the Packers didn't do a great job covering kickoffs or returning kicks. But at least they didn't allow any devastating big plays and allowed the offense and defense to win the game. Grade: C

Coaching: Once again Mike McCarthy came out with a great game plan and jumped out to an early lead. The Steelers did come back, but McCarthy stayed aggressive on offense to maintain the lead. McCarthy deserves a lot of credit for keeping his team focused despite injuries. And he's a huge reason Rodgers is now among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. He may not have the big personality of some coaches, but he now has the ring and doesn't need to talk a big game. Grade: A-