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Nothing can stop Pack from doing what they do best: winning

by | CBSSports.com National Columnist
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DALLAS -- First came the measuring for the Super Bowl ring.

The Green Bay Packers decided to measure for theirs on Saturday night, a day before the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh. That is a remarkable thing, and it flies in the face of every athlete superstition that has ever existed. You never, ever, count your rings before they hatch.

"Yeah, I was surprised," the Packers' Cullen Jenkins said. "I had never done anything like that. But that's [coach] Mike McCarthy keeping things light."

"I wasn't sure what we were measuring for," guard Josh Sitton said. "I thought it was for maybe winning the NFC. But measuring for rings before the Super Bowl, any ring, is pretty gutsy. Imagine if we were measuring rings and we lost the game?"

But they didn't. Because these are the Packers. That's what they do.

Second came the emotion at halftime.

The Packers led 21-10 but the focus was on two players in one corner of the locker room. Wide receiver Donald Driver was injured, tears already in his eyes. Charles Woodson, barely able to move his upper body, the result of a shattered collarbone, was close to tears as well. Greg Jennings approached both men and made a promise. "We will win this one," he said. And then they did.

Because these are the Packers. That's what they do.

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Last came the confetti.

The Packers danced, because they could. They laughed, not long after injuries ravaged them, and the team was declared dead. They celebrated after another year of Brett Favre and busted knees and broken this and shattered that.

Because these are the Packers. That's what they do.

"Look at all the stuff we've overcome," Jenkins said. "The stuff with Brett, [Aaron Rodgers], the injuries, we overcame it all."

"I want people, when they think of this team," linebackers coach Kevin Greene said, "to remember what we've fought through. I think we're one of the toughest teams to ever play in this league."

The Packers had 15 players on injured reserve this year, an unbelievably high number. Not counting the injury to Woodson in the team's 31-25 Super Bowl XLV win over Pittsburgh, five starters this year missed significant time.

The Super Bowl was a microcosm of the season for this battle-tested team. Woodson going down looked like a game-changer. He broke his collarbone when diving after a pass.

"I knew it was broken," he said. "I've broken a few bones in my time."

Out went Woodson, in came the reserves. Out went Driver, in came Jordy Nelson. Even Nelson was banged up. When meeting with the media, he shifted in his chair and winced in pain, like someone had stuck him in the ribs with a sharp object. When asked what hurt, he replied, "Everything."

It's a testament to the team's depth and toughness. Football, really, hasn't seen anything like this team in a long time.

"This is unbelievable when you think about it," Nelson said. "It's just the way our year has been. We go into halftime and then we come out without Donald Driver and Charles Woodson. Guys had to step up and play. That is how it's been all year."

Initially, Woodson was going to try and return. Then he stared at the X-ray. There was a deep jagged line and he knew. He knew.

Body in, body out. One man's blown knee is another man's opportunity.

The truth is that the Steelers were supposed to be the tough team. In reality, it was the Packers. "I could sense both teams were tired," Jenkins said. "We were exhausted. The Super Bowl made us more tired because of the excitement. But we outlasted them. We made the plays when we needed."

"I was dehydrated," Green Bay's B.J. Raji said. "But so what. It was the Super Bowl and considering everything we've been through we felt like nothing could stop us."

During the season, as the injuries mounted, McCarthy could sense doubt creeping into the bloodstream of his team. So in one meeting, later in the season, he had a message, a very stern one. His message lasted until this day, this great day for Green Bay.

"Mike slapped us in the face," Sitton said. "'Stop feeling sorry for yourselves and let's win some games.' That was all we needed."

Because these are the Packers. They win. That's what they do.

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