nfc north championship

Randall Cobb beats Zack Bowman to the end zone to score the game-winning touchdown with 38 seconds left as the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 33-28 to capture the NFC North championship on Sunday (Dec. 29).  Back after missing seven games with a broken left collarbone, quarterback Aaron Rodgers found a wide-open Cobb on 4th-and-8 to wipe out a one-point deficit with a 48-yard touchdown pass.  (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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-KICKOFF COVERAGE’S: HISTORY OF THE 32 IN 32-

-GREEN BAY PACKERS-

2010

PACKERS BRING THE LOMBARDI TROPHY BACK HOME TO GREEN BAY, AARON RODGERS NAMED SUPER BOWL MVP:

Green Bay’s 2010 off-season was mainly concentrated on improving their faulty offensive line. In the season opener, the Packers faced an Eagles team that was playing without quarterback Donovan McNabb for the first time in a decade. However, the O-line failed to deliver again as Rodgers took three sacks in the first half and also threw an interception. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s new quarterback, Kevin Kolb, was pulled with a concussion and replaced by Michael Vick. After a while, the Packers’ defense adjusted to him and Green Bay pulled off a 27-20 win, their first in Philadelphia since 1962. Second-year linebacker Clay Matthews (who knocked Kolb down) delivered an impressive performance in the game. After an easy win over Buffalo in Week 2, the Packers traveled to Chicago for a Monday Night matchup with their oldest rival. However, Green Bay exhibited very poor discipline and was plagued by numerous penalties, which had been a persistent problem ever since Mike McCarthy became head coach in 2006. The Packers lost the game 20-17. After this loss, the team returned home to face the 0-3 Lions in Week 4. They escaped with a 28-26 win, but it was an embarrassment to have given up that many points to a team that had not won in Green Bay since 1991 and which had won just two games over the last two seasons. The Packers’ woes continued in Washington the next week. Clay Matthews ran Donovan McNabb down repeatedly in the first half of the game, but was then pulled with a hamstring sprain. This took most of the pressure off the Redskins’ offense and the game tied at 13-13. Two minutes into overtime, Rodgers threw an interception and was knocked to the ground by Redskins defensive end Jeremy Jarmon with a concussion. Redskins kicker Graham Gano then booted a 33-yard field goal to win the game 16-13. Matthews and other key defensive players were missing from the Week 6 game at home versus Miami, leading to another overtime loss (23-20).

In Week 7, the injury-thinned team hosted Minnesota on Sunday Night. Once again, Brett Favre was booed by the crowd at Lambeau, but the outcome would be different this time as Green Bay took advantage of their opponent’s miscues (including three Favre interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown) to win 28-24. Following this emotional game, the Packers gained a surprise 9-0 win over the 6-1 New York Jets by kicking three field goals and shutting an opponent out on the road for the first time since 1991.

In Week 9, the Packers returned home for another Sunday Night game, this time with the struggling 1-7 Cowboys. Green Bay quickly marched out to two touchdowns in the first quarter, en route to a 45-7 crushing of their opponent. Following their bye week, the Packers headed to Minnesota for a rematch with the Vikings, who virtually laid down in much the same manner as Dallas. Green Bay quickly buried them 31-3, causing their head coach, Brad Childress, to be fired. It was the second consecutive game in which the team that lost to the Packers fired their head coach afterwards, as Wade Phillips had been fired by the Cowboys after their loss to the Packers.

Next came a difficult road battle with the 8-2 Atlanta Falcons, in which the Packers lost a close one 20-17. After routing San Francisco, the Packers headed to Detroit. What looked like an easy win proved anything but when Rodgers was knocked out with a concussion during a quarterback sneak and replaced by Matt Flynn. The latter was unable to get anything going as Green Bay lost a defensive struggle 7-3, falling to the Lions for the first time since 2005. Rodgers was then ruled out for the Week 15 game at New England.

Despite dire predictions, the Packers marched out to an early lead and the game remained close throughout. Flynn threw three touchdown passes, but in the end, Tom Brady’s greater experience prevailed as the Patriots won 31-27. This game was nonetheless a turning point for the Packers, having been inspired by nearly beating the best team in the NFL when no one gave them a remote chance.

With an 8-6 record, the Packers needed to win their last 2 games to gain the #6 seed, the last seed, in the NFC playoffs. The Packers easily beat the New York Giants at home 45-17 and then hosted the rival Bears for the final game of the season. The Packers won the defensive struggle 10-3, sealing the Packers’ playoff berth.

In the wild card round, the Packers had to travel to Philadelphia to play the hot Eagles, led by Michael Vick. Rodgers threw for 3 touchdowns and rookie halfback James Starks had a 100+ yard running game. Tramon Williams had an interception in the closing minutes sealing a Packer victory, 21-16.

The next game was against the Falcons in Atlanta. Atlanta was the #1 seed and was favored to beat Green Bay, but the Packers shocked the Atlanta fans by having a 28-14 lead at halftime, with Tramon Williams returning an interception for a touchdown in the final seconds of the first half. The Packers scored on the opening drive of the second half and the Falcons never recovered, as Green Bay rolled to a 48-21 win, sending the Packers to the NFC Championship game.

The NFC North Championship game would be against the Bears in Chicago, in what was considered by almost everyone the biggest game ever in the Packers-Bears 90-year old rivalry. The Packers scored on the opening drive on a touchdown run by Rodgers, and scored again in the second quarter on a run by Starks, giving the Packers a 14-0 lead at halftime. The defense was able to knock Bears starting quarterback Jay Cutler out of the game with a knee injury and soon after also knocked out back-up Todd Collins. In the 4th quarter, the Bears rallied with 3rd-string quarterback Caleb Hanie. However, two key interceptions, one by defensive tackle B.J. Raji returned for a touchdown, and another by Sam Shields with less than a minute left, sealed the NFC North championship for the Packers, who won 21-14.

Super Bowl XLV was an American football game between theAmerican Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelersand the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Green Bay Packers to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the2010 season. The Packers defeated the Steelers by the score of 31–25. The game was played on February 6, 2011, at Cowboys Stadium inArlington, Texas, the first time the Super Bowl was played in theDallas–Fort Worth area.

Unlike other matchups, this game featured two title-abundant franchises: coming into the game, the Packers held the most NFL championships with 12 (9 league championships prior to the Super Bowl era and 3 Super Bowl championships), while the Steelers held the most Super Bowl championships with 6. The Packers entered their fifth Super Bowl in team history, and became the first number 6-seeded team in the NFC to compete in the Super Bowl, after posting a 10–6 regular season record. The Steelers finished the regular season with a 12–4 record, and advanced to a league-tying 8th Super Bowl appearance.

Green Bay dominated most of the first half of Super Bowl XLV, jumping to a 21–3 lead before Pittsburgh cut it down to 21–10 just before halftime. Then after the teams exchanged touchdowns, the Steelers pulled within 28–25 midway through the fourth quarter with wide receiver Mike Wallace’s 25-yard touchdown reception from quarterbackBen Roethlisberger and a two-point conversion. But the Packers answered with Mason Crosby’s 23-yard field goal with 2:07 remaining, and then prevented the Steelers from scoring on their final drive of the game. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was named Super Bowl MVP, completing 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns.

The broadcast of Super Bowl XLV on Fox averaged about 111 million viewers, breaking the then-record for the most-watched program in American television history.The game’s attendance was 103,219, short of the Super Bowl record 103,985 set in Super Bowl XIV at theRose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The halftime show featured the American hip hop group The Black Eyed Peas, with additional performances by Usher and Slash.