On Sunday night, Woodson’s message to the team was delivered at halftime, and it was a brief one because he could barely get the words out. Having just seen X-rays that revealed his fractured left collarbone, Woodson knew his season was over, and now he hoped his teammates could help him finish his goal of becoming a Super Bowl champion.
“I knew I did something and I knew it was pretty severe,” Woodson said. “We went in there and took the X-rays, and as soon as I looked at it there was no question. It broke me down.
“I think I let out all of my emotions at halftime knowing that I couldn’t play the game the rest of the way, but an unbelievable feeling. I just told the guys before they went back out, they understood how much I want it. I was really emotional so I don’t get a whole lot out, but just to tell them, ‘Go get it done,’ and they did it.”
Woodson sustained the injury with just under two minutes remaining in the first half as he fully extended his body to break up a deep pass down the sideline for wide receiver Mike Wallace. Just moments before that, rookie nickel cornerback Sam Shields left the game with a shoulder injury of his own as the Packers were down to just three healthy cornerbacks in Tramon Williams, Jarrett Bush and Pat Lee.
Shields did return, but just for a handful of plays in the second half as Bush and Lee saw extended action. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said the biggest adjustment that he made because of the injuries was playing more zone coverage.
“These types of (injuries) happen, but the guys have been coached well and the guys that had to go in and play, they went in there and got the job done,” Woodson said. “It’s always hard not being able to be on the field, but we won.”
That Super Bowl victory was the final item on the 13-year veteran Woodson’s checklist, having already earned all of the individual honors a player could wish for, including NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season. This one was the most special, and even though Woodson was forced into role of spectator in the second half, it didn’t make it any less meaningful for him.
“We have accomplished what every man in the NFL wants to accomplish, and that’s to win the Super Bowl trophy,” Woodson said. “For us we walk those halls every day at Lambeau and we have seen all the greats. This is our opportunity to get on the wall, so it means a great deal to us.”
Sense of satisfaction
Like any general manager, Ted Thompson has taken his share of criticism for personnel decisions he has made since taking over as the team’s top personnel man in 2005.
But following Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV win over the Steelers on Sunday night, Thompson wasn’t using the victory as an opportunity to say ‘I told you so’ to any doubters he may have had over the past few seasons.
“I don’t think in terms of that; I really don’t,” Thompson said. “I think in terms of what is best for the team right this second. The fact that we won today, we won the Super Bowl, I think most of the fans will be happy.
“Do you like all of them to agree with you most of the time? But they’re not; that’s not the way it works and you can’t run a team trying to be a politician. You can’t try to get votes. You have to do what you have to do.”
Having constructed the team largely through the draft, the depth of the roster was tested in 2010 with 15 players landing on injured reserve. It was tested once more with veterans Woodson and wide receiver Donald Driver missing significant time on Sunday.
“The team has been very resilient,” Thompson said. “Obviously to take those two players out of the equation in the second half, you kind of start checking your hole card. This team has been that way. That’s the reason it is so special. I think they can stand on their own with all of the championship teams that have been here.
“I felt a little bit of relief at the end because the (game) could have gone either way. (I felt) very much pride in our players and coaching staff and organization. We went through a gauntlet the last five or six weeks. We had to win every time, and they did. That’s pretty special.”
For the first time this postseason, the Packers did not have a single giveaway as they came out plus-3 in turnover differential against the Steelers.
The last time Green Bay didn’t have a turnover in a postseason game came on Jan. 4, 2004, vs. Seattle in a Wild Card contest.
“We talked about that Mike had been here and I had been the coordinator for I think six playoff games, and we had never been able to play a game without a giveaway,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “So we said the one thing we’ve got to do in this game is hold onto the football. They had three and we had none, and that’s probably the difference in the game.”
Including playoff games, the Packers have now won 48 of their last 52 games when they don’t turn the ball over. Teams committing the fewer turnovers have a 33-3 record in Super Bowls.
Top of the list
When safety Nick Collins returned a Ben Roethlisberger interception 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, he helped put the Green Bay defense in the NFL record book.
Combined with Williams’ 70-yard interception return for a touchdown at Atlanta in the Divisional playoff and nose tackle B.J. Raji’s 18-yard return for a score at Chicago in the NFC title game, the Packers became the first team in league history to register interception returns for touchdowns in three consecutive playoff contests, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
With the three interception returns for scores this postseason, Green Bay is tied for No. 2 with the 2001 St. Louis Rams for the most in a single postseason behind only the 2001 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (four).
With Collins and wide receiver Greg Jennings finding their way into the end zone on Sunday night, that made it 11 different Packers with touchdowns this postseason. That is an NFL record, topping the previous mark of 10 held by the 1940 Chicago Bears, 1985 New England Patriots and 1992 Dallas Cowboys.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ 304 passing yards and three TDs on Sunday night gave him a four-game total of 1,094 passing yards and nine touchdowns this postseason. He joins Arizona’s Kurt Warner in 2008 (1,147 yards and 11 touchdowns) as the only NFL quarterback with 1,000 yards passing and nine touchdown passes in one postseason.
Ring to it
As part of the team meeting on Saturday night, McCarthy had the players fitted for Super Bowl rings.
“I just wanted to keep stacking that confidence,” McCarthy said. “I can’t tell you how long the week is, the two weeks leading up to this game, and you could see that the energy was building on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Starting Friday morning we had a video that had some humor in it and then we did some things Saturday too also just to kind of lighten it up, loosen these guys up.
“Saturday night, our snack is a very unique time for our football team. It’s an opportunity for me to gauge where they are at. I just thought it would be a very positive experience to do it at that time.”
Rodgers was voted the winner of the Pete Rozelle Trophy, awarded to the Super Bowl XLV Most Valuable Player. The honor is chosen by a panel comprised of 16 members of the Pro Football Writers Association of America, selected members of the electronic broadcast media and interactively through the league's official website, NFL.com.
Rodgers collected 17.5 votes of the possible 20 cast in the process, with Nelson collecting 2.5 votes and linebacker Clay Matthews garnering half a vote. More than 1.64 million fans voted for the award.