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

by | CBS Sports

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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