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Turnovers, TDs aside, 10 plays that turned Super Bowl XLV

by | CBS Sports
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Looking back on this Super Bowl, it's easy to point to Pittsburgh's three turnovers as the difference. The same goes for Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers' three touchdown passes.

What I want to focus on is the "other" crucial plays in the game that could have changed the outcome or the score.

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Here they are:

First quarter

 13:19, fourth-and-10, Pittsburgh 36: Pittsburgh punts to the Green Bay 24 where Packers return man Tramon Williams muffs the punt, but after a scramble for the ball, he recovers it on his own 21. If Pittsburgh recovers the ball it probably gets at least three points, which makes the score 31-28 when Pittsburgh begins its last drive of the game. Most likely those three points give the Steelers a different mindset on their play selection.

 7:24, third-and-one, Green Bay 29: The Packers' James Starks runs the ball for 8 yards to get the first down. When Green Bay scores a touchdown six plays later, it comes on a third-and-one play-action pass.

 00:26, third-and nine, 50-yard line: The Steelers are down 14-0. They don't have any momentum. Ben Roethlisberger scrambles for 18 yards. It is Pittsburgh's first third-down conversion and puts them at the Green Bay 32. Pittsburgh finishes off this drive with a field goal to get on the board at 14-3.

Second quarter

 2:18, first-and-10, Pittsburgh 23: Down 21-3, the Steelers need to get on the board to get some momentum. On the first down of the next drive after Green Bay takes a 21-3 lead Roethlisberger connects with Antwaan Randle El for a 37-yard gain that puts Pittsburgh on Green Bay's 40-yard line at the two minute warning. The Steelers then score with 47 seconds left in the quarter to cut the Green Bay lead to 21-10 and gain some momentum.

Third quarter

 12:57, third-and-five, Green Bay 25: The Packers' James Jones drops the ball. If he catches the ball, Green Bay leads 28-10. On the next possession, Pittsburgh begins play at midfield after a penalty on a punt return. They close the gap with a touchdown to make the score 21-17.

  6:50, first-and-10, Green Bay 44: Roethlisberger hits a play-action pass to Mike Wallace. After running the ball on seven of the last eight plays Roethlisberger throws deep to a wide-open Wallace and misses him. If the Steelers score they take the lead 24-21 and will have scored three TDs in their last three possessions. Instead, Shaun Suisham misses a 52-yard field goal and Green Bay retains the lead at 21-17.

Fourth quarter

 14:01, third-and-seven, Green Bay 48: Rodgers completes a pass to James Jones for a 12-yard gain. Green Bay's offense has struggled for the entire second half. The Packers have not converted a third down in the second half. Pittsburgh has all the momentum. The Packers turn that momentum around on this drive with this first down after just dodging a bullet when Rashard Mendenhall fumbled on the Green Bay 33-yard line on the previous possession. Green Bay goes on to score to increase its lead to 28-17.

 8:27, second-and-18, Green Bay 40: Roethlisberger hits Hines Ward for a 15-yard gain. Down by 11 points, the Steelers are trying to overcome a holding penalty by Flozell Adams that put then at first-and-20. They make this big play to get into a manageable third-and-three at the Green Bay 25-yard line and from there Roethlisberger connects with Wallace on a 25-yard touchdown pass. After the two-point conversion on a brilliantly conceived option play, the Steelers pull within three points at 28-25.

 5:59, third-and-10, Green Bay 25: Rodgers completes a 31-yard pass to Greg Jennings that keeps this crucial drive alive as it gets Green Bay across the 50-yard line to Pittsburgh's 44. This pass play comes after a penalty pushes the down and distance to third-and-10. Green Bay ends this drive by kicking a 23-yard field goal that increases its lead to 31-25.

 2:15, Third-and-goal,Pittsburgh 5: Rodgers just misses a touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson. It would have been a game clincher giving the Packers a 35-25 lead. If Nelson catches it, it would be a highlight catch. In the end, the Packers don't need it but it did allow Pittsburgh to have a chance to win the game on its last possession.

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