Though your season was plagued with publicity nightmares as varied as a concussion epidemic, a second illegal surveillance accusation and a potential lockout in 2011, on your biggest stage a victor emerged that was as pristine as fresh snow.
The Green Bay Packers are the national champions. Aaron Rodgers is your MVP. The Lombardi Trophy is returning to Vince Lombardi’s town. Cue the bathos.
The Game Itself
Anyone who watched the AFC and NFC Championships could not have been surprised by anything that happened at Super Bowl XLV. On offense, the Packers were the picture of efficiency in the first half, building a 21-3 lead that seemed insurmountable. On defense, they pressured Ben Roethlisberger from all angles, sacking him once and hitting him five times, to go along with five tackles behind the line. The Packers forced two first-half turnovers and turned them into 14 points. Although they allowed a touchdown late in the second quarter, they looked unbeatable going into halftime.
But injuries to wide receiver Donald Driver and cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Sam Shields threatened to simultaneously derail both the Packers’ offense and their defense in the second half. But as I predicted, ineffective running by Rashard Mendenhall– just 63 yards and a touchdown on the ground, plus a fumble at the Green Bay 36 that turned at least a field goal for Pittsburgh into an eventual Green Bay touchdown- put too much pressure on Roethlisberger, who finished the game 25/40 for 263 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Pittsburgh quarterback does not play his best football in Super Bowls, having now thrown five interceptions but just three touchdowns in three Super Bowls.
As I again predicted, the weakened Pittsburgh defense (3 sacks, no turnovers) could not make enough plays to keep Rodgers out of the end zone. Rodgers passed for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, for a quarterback rating of 111.5. The man is master of indoor football games, and his numbers would have been even better had it not been for at least four drops by his wide receivers.
Halftime Show: Usher 1, Black Eyed Peas, 0
From 2007-2009, Super Bowl organizers found a winning strategy for an entertaining halftime show: find a veteran rock star with widespread appeal who’s experienced with large stadiums but not so old that he can’t play, and make sure his backing band is up to the challenge. Worked with Prince in 2007. Worked with Tom Petty in 2008. Worked with Bruce Springsteen in 2009.
This strategy finally failed (miserably) with the Who in 2010, but that’s because that band, like Paul McCartney in 2005 and the Rolling Stones in 2006, has crossed the threshold from “veteran” to “old.” They still have a huge fanbase, but they can’t actually play anymore.
This year, organizers went in a different direction, choosing the markedly younger Black Eyed Peas. And they sucked.
Yes, there were a lot of pretty lights flashing on the field of Cowboys Stadium during the halftime show. The better to distract you with, my dear. The Black Eyed Peas were the least-engaging halftime band the Super Bowl has had in quite awhile. Some bands play with enough energy and gravitas that they can fill a large stage despite their size. The Black Eyed Peas seemed to do the opposite, appearing tiny, swallowed up by the massive stage. Their singing was uninspired and uninspiring. Even an appearance by Slash couldn’t save them; Fergie’s rendition of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” was positively painful.
All seemed lost, until Usher, clad all in white, literally descended from the sky: A messiah, resurrected at the last moment to save the halftime show from ruination and decay. There was even a choir of dancing angels behind him, helping to spread his message that all was not lost.
Usher was the halftime show’s salvation.
Ads: Has This Country Gone Nuts?
Seriously, what is wrong with advertisement executives these days? This year’s crop of ads were a strange batch indeed. Confusing at times, vulgar at other times, but always chaotic. The most popular ad, depending on who you ask, was either the Volkswagen ad with the tiny Darth Vader, or the Chrysler ad with Eminem. The former was adorable, sure. But the latter just goes to show that people value style way more than substance. Eminem’s Chrysler ad was very classy, but what did he actually say? “This is the Motor City. This is what we do.” Well, what do you do? Drive around empty streets and invade choir practices? You know why Eminem does that stuff? Because he’s probably the only person left in Detroit!
Other ads went out of their way to push the sex-appeal aspect of advertising to never-before-seen levels. I don’t normally consider myself prudish, but children are watching this game. The “mattresses are for sex” ad, the finger-sucking Doritos ad, the Pepsi Max “I want to sleep with you, I want to sleep with you, I want to sleep with you” ad, they’re all selling their products in a way that made me very uncomfortable. God help parents watching them with their kids.
The worst ad was Teleflora’s. “Your rack is unreal.” Seriously? That’s language that children don’t need to be exposed to. Ads may target adults with disposable income, but some consideration must be made for parents and young children. I refuse to accept that everyone watching the Super Bowl is a drunken 26-year-old male, but that seems to be the only people ad executives are targeting. And by doing so, all they do is perpetuate the stereotype that every football fan is a drunken 26-year-old male.
The rest of the ads were just insane, such as the Mayans summoning a car or Ozzie and Justin Bieber on what looks like the “Tron” set. I can’t even remember half the products they were selling. Even a half-assed new “Old Spice” commercial would’ve taken the trophy hands down.
Thankfully, the quality of the game itself dwarfed a crappy halftime show and a strange batch of ads. Tack on that the game ended by 10:30, and I give it an 8.5 out of 10.