The 2010 Green Bay Packers proved lots of doubters wrong this season by advancing to Super Bowl XLV, including this one. I doubted Ted Thompson would make the proper moves to get this team deep in the NFC playoffs. I doubted Aaron Rodgers would make the necessary plays to put the Packers in position to win a fourth Lombardi Trophy.
And as of now, they’ve silenced this doubter and I’m sure many others.
Green Bay came into the 2010 season as one of the favorites to win both the NFC and the Super Bowl in Dallas. They’ve accomplished the first goal, despite leading the NFL in players on injured reserve, with a whopping 15: a list that includes three starters on offense (Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley and Mark Tauscher) and three more on defense (Nick Barnett, Brad Jones and Morgan Burnett) as well as many key reserves.
This is where Ted Thompson’s keen eye for talent was essential. He didn’t panic when Grant was lost for the season in week 1, by going out and trading for a running back. Instead he waited for 6th-round pick James Starks, who is one of the biggest reasons the Packers are still playing.
On defense, guys like Erik Walden, Howard Green, Charlie Peprah and Sam Shields were all not wanted by the 31 other teams and have turned into key cogs on the defense that was 2nd in the NFL in points allowed. Walden and Green have been stalwarts in the front seven after being picked up off the street before week 8. Meanwhile, Peprah and Shields have upgraded a secondary that was torched by Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner late in the 2009 season.
All four will play major roles in Super Bowl XLV in slowing down the Pittsburgh Steelers offense.
As for Rodgers, he had a great season as expected, but heading into a Week 7 matchup with his predecessor Brett Favre, the team was just 3-3 and the 3rd year starter had struggled to come through in the clutch.
That October victory over the rival Vikings seemed to relax Rodgers for the rest of the season, as he threw 16 touchdowns to just two interceptions the final nine weeks of the regular season.
After a concussion caused him to miss a week 15 game in New England, Rodgers caught fire in a must-win against the Giants, throwing for over 400 yards and then had the masterful performance in Atlanta, knocking off the top-seeded Falcons with 366 yards and three touchdown passes.
As Rodgers’ confidence grew in the second half of the season, the team followed, playing like the Super Bowl favorites they were at the start of the season.
The dark shadow of Favre seemed to hang over the Packers after he torched them twice in 2009 and nearly took Minnesota to the Super Bowl. But this year, it was Green Bay’s turn.
A team that was considered dangerous by the media, and they’ve proven that notion right by being just one win away from being the NFL’s best once again.
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Written by Mitch McLaughlin