Mike McCarthy said it all Thursday.
“It’s time for the Lombardi Trophy to go back home,” the Packers coach said.
Back to Titletown, USA, otherwise known as Green Bay, Wisconsin. Back to a place that hasn’t housed the trophy since 1996. Back to a town and team hungry to resurrect the past.
It is that hunger which will propel the Packers over the Steelers Sunday in Super Bowl XLV in the climate-controlled environs of Cowboys Stadium.
There’s a reason sixth-seeded Green Bay goes into this game as a 2 ½-point favorite over a second seed. On paper, the Steelers should have the edge: a Super Bowl-seasoned quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, going for his third ring; a tough runner, Rashard Mendenhall; a pair of big-play wide receivers, Hines Ward and Mike Wallace; and a scary-good defense led by hard-charging (and sometimes dirty) linebacker James Harrison. Such a lineup should have made picking the Steelers for a record seventh Super Bowl title a
But the hunger of the Packers supercedes all that. They are young, and some of them are hardened to adversity. Aaron Rodgers, the career underdog seeking to create a shadow separate and distinct from that of his predecessor, Brett Favre, needs the validation that comes with Super Bowl success. That drive is far more intense than Roethlisberger’s attempt to divert attention from his self-inflicted wounds of the offseason with another Super Bowl ring.
Defensively, the Packers have the advantage because of Charles Woodson, a cornerback whom defensive coordinator Dom Capers uses more like a blitzing rover. He, too, is hungry for a ring after one losing opportunity with the Raiders. And young, 337-pound nose tackle B.J. Raji is big enough to bring down the husky Roethlisberger if he blows past backup center Doug Legursky.
The offense is more streamlined than Pittsburgh’s. The special teams are better. And the hunger makes the Pack all the more dangerous. The Vince Lombardi Trophy is going back to where it belongs.
Prediction: Green Bay 35, Pittsburgh 21