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Of all the 2011 Super Bowl commercials, none has proven more quite so resonant to quite so many people as Eminem and Chrysler’s paean to the Motor City, “Imported from Detroit”; apparently Edmunds.com’s Chrysler search traffic jumped 328% after the ad. No Super Bowl ad had quite as tall an order as this one, which sought successfully to put the Chrysler 200 in car-buyers’ minds just as the company looks to get the Chrysler Sebring out of it.
The Wall Street Journal gives us a nice history of the ad; apparently the Eminem cameo and the long running time were last-second decisions. A good thing, too—the commercial derives much of its weird strength from its slow build and its surprisingly appropriate Eminem cameo, which situates their use of “Lose Yourself.”
I don’t know that there’s a more impressive metric than this: apparently 839 people requested quotes for the 200 between the ad airing and that midnight. For a car that was either invisible in the market or derided for its ancestry prior to that moment that’s an impressive response, one that could go part of the way toward paying for two minutes of extremely expensive Super Bowl ad time.
Need I remind Chrysler: This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, as a Michigander philosopher’s single once impressed upon my rap-crazy high school class. Hopefully the 200 is a good impression for the new Detroit.
I am not one to typically impugn the USA Today, which has a lot of good newspaper design ideas, but their Super Bowl Ad Meter has done a fantastic job of picking not the best commercials so much as Super Bowl 2011 commercials that feature dogs. The winners: A tie between an execrable Bud Light ad that I think might have been about underground dogfighting, and the Doritos ad about the pug who, wait for it, loves Doritos.
Number three, at least, is Volkswagen's popular Darth Vader ad. But Pepsi Max, another failure, is next, Bud Light, like Derek Jeter, continues to get overrated for former performances, and the brilliant Audi Luxury Prison ad is stuck at 20th.
At least they got the bottom right. Along with two boring but inoffensive Hyundai ads viewers responded the least to yet another miserable GoDaddy ad. No commercial has made me less likely to use a product than GoDaddy's base attempts to sell domain names to people who don't need them, and I'm including those cigarette ads with huge pictures of diseased lungs on them.
Until recently the Darth Vader connection was typically made with cars that were sinister, all-black, and typically angular—the Buick GNX, the Chevy Impala SS, et al. But the time finally came for a Darth Vader Super Bowl commercial, and we got—a silver Volkswagen Passat. And Darth Vader is an adorable six-year-old who just wants to Force Choke an alternator.
The new Passat is made specifically for American tastes—i.e. they a little condescendingly made it Bigger And Cheaper—but their commercial is more tonally appropriate. They took an American icon, they made it ironic and cute, and they made us feel good at the end.
Well done, Volkswagen. I still don’t know why anybody buys your cars, but I’m glad Affluent Youngish Dad got the one with remote-start, so as to help his kid continue his dreams of becoming a Sith Lord. Thus ends the reign of the Impala SS and the Grand National and any other black car with a big engine. Lord Vader, your juice box is ready. I hope you like Ecto Cooler.
I don’t think any 2011 Super Bowl Commercial got closer to that weird, internet-born tone of creepy weirdness for its own sake than Doritos’ leadoff ad, which featured a guy who loves all of the worst parts of Doritos. Maybe it’s my fault for working at a keyboard all day, but I can’t believe in a Doritos ad that suggests fingers covered in cheese-dust are a positive:
The pug ad was a little more conventional, but this one just continued to leave a bad taste in my mouth throughout Super Bowl XLV. Maybe because that guy’s fingers were in there. If I may TV-Trope one major feature of a lot of recent horror movies, it’s this: The Human Who Doesn’t Act Like A Human Or Move In Human Ways. Japanese films are especially good at this. It doesn’t make me laugh in a Super Bowl ad.
SB Nation suggests this weirdness comes from the Doritos commercial’s overlap on a certain Venn Diagram: The space in which “Men with Malicious Intentions” and “Men With Severe, Undiagnosed Learning Disabilities” meet, which is in fact where most male commercial figures originate. What I have to wonder is how all these idiotic male figures in Super Bowl commercials managed to get married to their super-hot spouses in the first place. (I sense a Match.com Super Bowl commercial idea coming on…)
Christina Aguilera is probably fuming at her timing right now. Judging by the amount of buzz she’s garnering this morning she should have sung the National Anthem’s words wrong before the release of her last movie, the not-quite-worldbeating Burlesque.
SB Nation’s official take is that she went off the rails at the 40-second mark, though we have no idea whether or not she managed to hit the over on that 1:54 prop bet from earlier in the week. (She threatened, at the end, to spend a minute and 54 seconds on the last word alone, which is the bane of all National Anthem purists.)
We can’t act as though she hadn’t warned us more than 10 years ago that this might happen. In “Genie in a Bottle” she clearly suggests that if we want to be with her (in a National Anthem sense), baby there’s a price to pay—she’s a genie in a bottle, and as such hasn’t had a lot of chances to hear the Star-Spangled Banner performed in English. She’d have nailed it in Arabic, whether you rubbed her the right way or not.
The Super Bowl Commercials 2011 hype going into the big advertising game was for Volkswagen’s Darth Vader ad, but Eminem and Chrysler appear to have been the most effective combination of pop culture icon and down-on-its-luck brand in the 2011 Super Bowl of Car Commercials. “Imported from Detroit”, which met an indifferent response from car aficionados when Chrysler trotted it out in December, has suddenly become a buzzworthy tagline. It’s as unlikely a comeback as Eminem’s huge crossover hits from last year.
The 200 isn’t on my must-buy list yet, but I’ll be proud to rent one on accident someday, and I’m lying to you and myself if I don’t say I’ll probably listen to “Lose Yourself” at least once when that happens. The opportunity, I’m told, comes once in a lifetime.
The Green Bay Packers have won Super Bowl XLV, and for the first time since Super Bowl XXXI in 1997 the Vince Lombardi Trophy will return to its ancestral home in Wisconsin. It's the fourth such win for the Packers, putting them within one of second place—the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys have five—and two of the Pittsburgh Steelers' six.
The win also leaves Aaron Rodgers tied with Brett Favre for second on the Packers' roster of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. Bart Starr took the first two and maintains the record, although Rodgers, 28 next season, has plenty of time to chase Starr down. After half a lifetime of Favre comparisons being compared to another iconic Hall of Fame quarterback should be no big deal.
It's hard to compare quarterbacks across eras, but if Rodgers wasn't quite so flawless as Bart Starr in Super Bowl I he did an outstanding job of playing with the burden of the entire offense on his shoulders—James Starks ran the ball just nine times, so the Packers didn't even pretend otherwise. It was Rodgers' game, and he won it.
I was always told, growing up, that defense wins championships. Super Bowl XLV was characterized by some crucial defensive turnovers, including Nick Collins's momentum-shifting pick-six on Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter. But the final score doesn't look like a matchup between two teams that averaged 15 points allowed a game between them. Both teams finished above their seasonal scoring average, and Aaron Rodgers's three touchdowns turned out to make the difference.
Even the Packers only allowed more than 25 points twice in the regular season—against the New England Patriots and, of all times, the Detroit Lions. The Pittsburgh Steelers only allowed 30 points once, again against the Patriots. Tom Brady, the 2010 NFL MVP, did not play in the 2011 Super Bowl, so far as I can tell.
It was a wild and dynamic game, defense-wise, but there were too many times when Rodgers and Roethlisberger were tearing through defenses as advertised to say that defense won this championship. But I'll have to leave it to Sportswriter-Platitude-Busters to confirm or deny it for good; I haven't yet earned my own cable TV show, so my opinion is not final.
Aaron Rodgers and his championship belt have been joined by a real piece of hardware—he was named the Super Bowl XLV MVP minutes after leading the Green Bay Packers to their first Super Bowl victory in 14 years. So much for living in Brett Favre’s shadow—Rodgers threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns and managed to hold off a late comeback from a more-experienced Pittsburgh Steelers club in the fourth quarter.
Rodgers’s favorite target was Jordy Nelson, who caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown; he, Greg Jennings, and James Jones proved just good enough despite some dropped passes that cost the Packers some real scoring chances. Donald Driver, who won his first Super Bowl at 35, was injured in the first quarter after two early catches.
Rodgers’s dominant performance capped off a playoff run that saw him throw nine touchdowns and two interceptions in four games. With Brett Favre, never a Super Bowl MVP, off the stage, Rodgers has finally, belatedly put himself in the Green Bay—and NFL—pantheon.
The 2011 Super Bowl winners have been crowned, and despite a wobbly second half the Green Bay Packers held on, dropping the more experienced Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25. Aaron Rodgers was unflappable and finally unstoppable, fighting dropped passes to go 24-for-39 with 304 yards and three touchdowns and taking the Packers downfield for their game-clinching field goal with minutes left on the clock. Vince Lombardi’s own will take the Vince Lombardi trophy for the fourth time.
Ben Roethlisberger, out to win his third Super Bowl, was 25-for-40 with 263 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions in the loss. His slow start, including an interception returned for a touchdown in the first quarter, allowed the Packers to get out in front, and despite several near-misses it was a lead they never relinquished.
For all the talk about defense and hard-nosed football, the Packers won it almost exclusively through the air—rookie running back James Starks had just 11 carries for 52 yards.
I don’t think there’s any more hopeless company, marketing-wise, than Skechers—purview of the men and women who mistake correlation with causation with Skechers-wearing in all things success—and their Super Bowl commercial is no exception. In it a predictably attractive woman dumps her predictably attractive personal trainer for—Skechers Shape-Ups, weird-looking, gimmicky shoes that will do nothing except cause back pain. It’s the latest in the grand tradition of those ads where a bunch of guys start talking about their Skechers as the ultimate heterosexual aphrodisiac.
So, fourth-quarter-watching women of America: You, too, can be perfectly proportioned and sweat in a really aesthetically pleasing way, if only you stop exercising and begin walking around in shoes that make you step forward like Rod Carew. I’m glad I could pass that tip along.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to beat Skechers at its own game by creating ever-wobblier footwear. It comes naturally to me; I’m a serious pronator, so I make a pair of what amount to Shape-Ups every six months. I hope you like Converse All-Stars, maybe a size 13, mostly black.
The 2011 Super Bowl has been exactly as close as advertised, but few expected a 28-25 game out of these defenses. After Aaron Rodgers hit Greg Jennings in the end zone to put the Packers up 28-17 the Steelers returned the favor by way of a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass, adding a two-point conversion to narrow the score to 28-25.
Roethlisberger has been relied upon heavily, and results have been mixed—after a slow start he’s 23-for-35 with 243 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. His 31 rushing yards have also extended some crucial drive. Aaron Rodgers has been victimized by dropped passes all night, but he’s still 19-for-33 with 240 yards and three touchdowns. Jordy Nelson has eight receptions, 131 yards, and a touchdown, but some of those drops are on him.
The rushing games have been quiet—with just seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, James Starks and the Green Bay Packers have just nine carries for 37 yards.
Both reincarnated American automakers have returned to the 2011 Super Bowl, but only Chrysler's startlingly effective Super Bowl commercial managed to declare its cars imports from a place, Detroit, where most Americans have not lately wanted to be. It's an interesting attempt at countering the city and the company's negative reputation by owning it, and somehow they managed to figure out several angles at which the Chrysler 200, a refreshed Sebring, looks positively attractive. It also brought Eminem—also imported from Detroit—back for a second commercial in the same Super Bowl.
I'm going to be honest: I'm a fan of neither the Sebring nor Eminem, although I do have a soft spot in my heart for the old Chrysler 300M, but as over the top as this ad was it kind of worked for me. I'm ready to start a USA chant, even though the 200 will spend most of its time in rental lots until the new version comes out in a year or two. Losing myself in the music is still a maybe.
Rashaerd Mendenhall picked up a touchdown and the Pittsburgh Steelers continued to wear down a suddenly short-handed Green Bay Packers defense, cutting what had been an 18 point lead to 21-17. Ben Roethlisberger remains less than perfect, but the Packers’ offense and defense have each begun to make mistakes as the second half begins.
If you believe in momentum, that’s a momentum-shifter—ever since the Steelers scored at the end of the first half the Packers have been unable to operate at anything approaching maximum efficiency. The Packers’ offense, thanks for the most part to two dropped passes from some of their top receivers, has been unable to stop the Steelers’ forward progress, even as Pittsburgh begins to stay on the ground and attempt to grind the defense down.
The Packers’ defense did a fine job of stopping Ben Roethlisberger in the first half; in the second half the Steelers are daring them to stop Rashard Mendenhall, as well.
Charles Woodson, one of the veteran anchors of the Green Bay Packers’ defense, won’t return to the 2011 Super Bowl after suffering a collarbone injury in the first half. Woodson left near the end of the half, just as Ben Roethlisberger was finally beginning to come online.
Woodson, whose previous Super Bowl experience comes in a loss in Super Bowl XXXVII, in which his Oakland Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but Woodson recorded an interception, has played for the Packers since 2006 and recorded 30 interceptions in that time period. At 34 he’s the oldest key member of the Packers’ defense, and was expected to play a major part in keeping Roethlisberger down in Super Bowl XLV.
Donald Driver—the only older starter on the Packers—will return after suffering an ankle injury in the game’s first half. He picked up the Packers’ first first down of the game and has two receptions for 28 yards in a game that’s seen Aaron Rodgers hit all of his major targets multiple times.
Microphone problems and a weirdly low mix couldn’t, unfortunately, keep the Black Eyed Peas from descending from the Cowboys Stadium rafters and headlining the 2011 Super Bowl Halftime Show. will.i.am somehow managed to miss some notes that were explicitly autotuned; Fergie sang an impossibly brassy version of Sweet Child Of Mine with Slash, who didn’t have anything else going on; and the other two Black Eyed Peas continued to confound people who weren’t sure how many Black Eyed Peas there were. But the major take-home from the halftime show was just how much the Peas loved TRON: Legacy.
From field-dancers in light-up bodysuits to the transforming body-armor of will.i.am and—I looked it up—apl.de.ap and especially Taboo, it was clear that the Peas are major Jeff Bridges fans. I can’t blame them for that, but I can blame them for “Boom Boom Pow”, “I Gotta Feeling”, and “Let’s Get It Started.” “My Humps”, shockingly, was left on the cutting-room floor.
Usher was another special guest, getting his own enormous team of Usher-like dancers, which were not wearing light-up bodysuits. He did have to sing “Oh My Gosh” instead of “Oh My God”, a reminder that we still live in a post-Janet Jackson world.
The Pittsburgh Steelers kept themselves in the 2011 Super Bowl with seconds to go in the first half, as Ben Roethlisberger dragged them downfield for an eight-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward, cutting the Green Bay Packers’ lead to 21-10 at halftime. Now, at least, Roethlisberger and company will be able to watch the Black Eyed Peas’ Super Bowl halftime show with a lighter heart.
Roethlisberger finishes the half an uneven 13-for-21 with 143 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Aaron Rodgers has been the story of the first half, with his two touchdowns, and Roethlisberger and Ward, who has four receptions for 43 yards, will need to continue to party like it’s XL for the foreseeable future if they’re to run the Packers down.
Passing has indeed been crucial in the first half—both teams have combined for 67 yards from their running backs, while Antwaan Randle-El has a 37-yard reception and the Packers have three receivers with catches of 20 yards or more.
So far it looks like defense might indeed win this championship—but it hasn’t, so far, been the Steelers’ vaunted defense.
Teleflora has successfully targeted a Super Bowl commercial featuring Faith Hill and all about flowers at the men who will be sending arrangements to women on Valentine’s Day, thanks in part to a truly touching card message: “Nice rack.” An interesting and kind of reductive way to keep men posted during an ad about flowers, but I’m sure it worked.
Hill suggests our Demographically-Appropriate Slacker look into his heart to find a message for his sweetheart—I’m not quite sure what they’re doing together in the first place, but that’s not important—and inside his heart his girlfriend’s rack casts a long shadow.
Says Hill, with surprisingly solid comedic timing: “So you sent that.”
Confirms the slacker: The rack is unreal. Normally these ads, with their incredibly dim male protagonists, kind of bother me, but this one was handled weirdly deftly given the subject matter, and was just plain weird given the product. I was also kind of surprised to see Faith Hill is still a public figure, but I’m fine with that.
Experience hasn’t been a factor in the 2011 Super Bowl’s first half: Ben Roethlisberger, out to win his third Super Bowl title with the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been intercepted twice by the Green Bay Packers in the first half of Super Bowl XLV. Roethlisberger is 8-for-14 with 66 passing yards and the two interceptions, the fourth and fifth of his Super Bowl career. Roethlisberger has been most effective holding onto the ball—a crucial 18-yard run kept a drive going when nothing else would in the first half. Rashard Mendenhall has eight carries for 30 yards.
He’s been eclipsed in the first half by Aaron Rodgers, who appears to have successfully emerged from the shadow of Brett Favre. Rodgers is 11-for-16 for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and he’s used all of his weapons, from the veteran Donald Driver to younger stars Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings, who both have touchdowns.
The Green Bay Packers have a 21-3 lead in the first half and will be getting the ball back in the second half, after deferring their win in the coin toss.
This should come as a shock to nobody—GoDaddy has continued its run as undisputed Super Bowl commercials downer, with Danica Patrick and company announcing the unflappable Joan Rivers as the new GoDaddy.co girl.
I was told to see what happens next at GoDaddy.co, but I imagine it goes something like this: Everybody in the crowd waiting to see a hot chick leaves, and Danica Patrick and company have to console a crushed Joan Rivers, who’s been working out for months just to prepare for this role.
“I’m a joke, aren’t I?” she says, her deep smoker’s voice cracking under the strain. “All this time they were just making a joke?”
Danica sheds a single tear as she realizes all this ad-time has made people forget she was once a promising racing figure in her own right, and the GoDaddy girls sigh deeply as they realize all at once what they’ve become. Melissa Rivers comes to pick her mother up in her old-person’s-car and they all stop somewhere to eat and discuss where things went wrong.
Either that, or it looks like one of them is about to get naked!! But then they don’t get naked.
Aaron Rodgers’s hot start in the 2011 Super Bowl culminated in the first touchdown of the night, a 29-yard strike to Jordy Nelson that put the Green Bay Packers on top of the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 7-0 with four minutes to go in the first quarter.
Rodgers has already hit four receivers in the early-going of this afternoon’s game. Nelson has three receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown; the veteran Donald Driver caught a 24-yarder over the middle for the first first down of the game. Only Greg Jennings remains unseen among the Packers’ big three receivers; he’s likely to be blanketed all night by Steelers defenders. Rodgers is now 6-for-10 for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers haven’t had much of a chance to get downfield so far. Rashard Mendenhall’s 15-yard run is their only major move all game; Roethlisberger is 2-for-5 with 9 yards and an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Here’s the leader in the clubhouse for 2011 Super Bowl commercials: Audi’s Old Luxury prison, which puts together all the pieces of a Super Bowl ad in a wonderful fashion while still getting its message across. Elaborate, expensive set design? How about a luxurious, old-money prison? Movie-like direction? A wonderful chase scene in which robed captives escape, ending with one of them being “hoodwinked” by getting into a Mercedes. And it continued Audi’s omnipresent campaign to discredit other luxury car manufacturers for everyone under 50.
This is the whole point, I think, of the Super Bowl ad—not just to have a great punchline but to take advantage of the enormous budget having a Super Bowl commercial necessitates. It seems almost wrong to describe a commercial as cinematic, but Audi managed it here, and they did it without pandering to the beer companies’ ubiquitous Cool Bros or waiting for a great joke in the last five seconds.
The video is currently available on the front page of YouTube, though it’s anyone’s guess as to how long that will last.
It’s not a Best Super Bowl Commercial of the Night contender, but Chevrolet’s Cruze Ad, “42 Wild Italians”, does manage to solve the problem of whether to advertise your product or make people laugh in a novel, vaguely meta way. The commercial begins with a typical Chevy/Tim Allen commercial touting the Cruze Eco’s 42 miles per gallon and then pulls back into a very tweedy nursing home, where the residents are unable to figure out quite what Allen wants to tell them. An immaculately dressed nurse(?) is unable to explain it to them but manages to get whatever else Allen might have told us into the ad.
My favorite Super Bowl ads remain the enormous, jokey productions—Audi’s new luxury prison is a good example—but this is a nice example of an ad that manages to be effective while delivering at least one laugh. “42 Wild Italians” is slightly more memorable, anyway, than 42 miles per gallon.
Bud Light appears to be following an increasingly tired pattern for their Super Bowl ads—thirtysomething guy can’t think of anything except beer; beer causes him to forget about shoddy craftsmanship or his family; thirtysomething pals come by to party hearty. Tonight it was a TV interior decorator who did nothing except place a bucket of Bud Light on a countertop. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: His wife was kind of pissed about it, but the dude was totally psyched. A party ensued.
The video should be available shortly on Bud Light’s Official YouTube Channel, but just imagine any of their other ads with a slightly different scenario and you’ll be almost all the way there.
The sad thing about this one is that there’s so much room to make fun of the proliferation of interior-decorator shows on cable TV, but they didn’t do it. Though, strangely enough, the wife actually got into this party at the end—maybe this is part of a slow and subtle plot arc in which these thirtysomething couples who appear to have no common interests begin to reconcile.
Frank Zombo tackled Rashard Mendenhall in the backfield to key a Pittsburgh Steelers three-and-out in the first drive of Super Bowl XLV, but a muffed punt-return nearly cost the Green Bay Packers the ball deep in their own territory. The Steelers couldn’t get anything going on a drive that ended with Ben Roethlisberger underthrowing a receiver on third-and-long. Rashard Mendenhall was caught four yards in the backfield to erase a four-yard completion to Hines Ward on the first play of the afternoon.
The Packers’ game-opening decision, it turns out, was validated; they elected to defer their coin toss victory and will therefore receive the ball again at halftime, following the Black Eyed Peas’ interminable floor show and a series of Super Bowl commercials.
The Steelers nearly caught a break when Kapinos’s 40-yard punt was muffed by Tramon Williams, who fell on it just before the Steelers’ punt team arrived at the scene. The resulting pile required several officials to break up.
The Green Bay Packers won the 2011 Super Bowl Coin Toss and elected to kick off with new NFL Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, and others in attendance. After some strange communication difficulties—it’s loud out there—the Packers made clear their intent, and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ special teams readied itself to return the kick. Deferring the ball was fitting for two teams that propose to put a major emphasis on defense.
Faulk, one of the St. Louis Rams’ Greatest Show On Turf Greats, was overshadowed in Cowboys Stadium by Deion Sanders, former Dallas Cowboy, who tossed the coin that fell heads.
That means Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers will take the first drive in Super Bowl XLV. The way they perform could set the tone of the whole afternoon. Mason Crosby’s kick was taken out of the end zone and passed the 20-yard line by rookie returner Antonio Brown, giving the Steelers solid field position and Doug Legursky the comfort to know that he won’t give up a safety if he struggles early in his first ever start at center.
If you were wondering when the 2011 Super Bowl would kick off—well, keep wondering. Lea Michele from Glee, TV’s campiest nightmare, sang “America the Beautiful” on a huge platform at midfield. She was followed, mercifully quickly, by Christina Aguilera, singing a version of the National Anthem short enough to confound prop betters taking the “over” on 1:54, even after her inexplicable final note/notes. With Kung Fu Panda 2 and Livingsocial ads in the foreground the Cowboy Stadium grounds crew removed the platform to prepare for the coin toss.
For what it’s worth, I kind of liked Glee before every other episode became Very Special. In any case, it was interesting to hear one of its stars without a ton of chorus effect and autotune, although the Super Bowl audience might have been a good time to break into “Don’t Stop Believin’” again.
Aguilera’s National Anthem was… completely as expected, although not quite as long as I’d worried. Someday people will stop trying to repeat Whitney Houston’s landmark performance and begin singing the song correctly. That will be a wonderful moment in Super Bowl history.
Coming into the 2011 Super Bowl Ben Roethlisberger is no longer most famous for his two Super Bowl rings, although USA Today suggests that will change if he wins Super Bowl XLV. In the meantime, he’ll have Super Bowl history—XL and XLIII—to fall back on.
Super Bowl XL was not a great debut for Roethlisberger, who nevertheless received credit for playing for the winner, as most quarterbacks not named Trent DIlfer get. He went 9-for-21 against the Seattle Seahawks, with two interceptions and just 123 passing yards. Roethlisberger was a rookie, but he was playing far below his established talent level that night.
Super Bowl XLIII was more impressive. Roethlisberger was 21-for-30 with 256 yards and a touchdown (as well as another interception) in the Steeler’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals. That touchdown came on his last play of the game, so his timing had gotten much better in the intervening III years.
One thing’s for certain: If the Steelers get Super Bowl XL Roethlisberger, they’ll be hard-pressed to get very far.
Those of us awaiting Super Bowl Kickoff Time have now seen a red-carpet show; lots of Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers highlights; several hundred Glee promos; and a Maroon Five performance. The game begins, ostensibly, at 5:30 PM, but the kickoff could come after any number of other mid-aughts mom-rock-stars perform. I’m looking forward to seeing Hoobastank perform at the 50-yard-line during the coin toss, and the Third Quarter Show should rock when Santana and Rob Thomas perform “Smooth.” Frank Caliendo will deliver the Super Bowl rings dressed up as Robert De Niro, for some reason.
So: Hope for 5:30 PM CST, but keep enough canned goods and and mild salsa around to get through a possible football drought while the pregame rolls into its 20th hour. Plan on a Lord of the Flies scenario if it stretches more than a half an hour after the presumptive kick-off time; consider using a conch shell to determine who’s allowed to talk. Don’t think too badly of FOX, though—think about all the money they’re raising for Jerry’s Kids by going this long.
I (and presumably Vegas) hate to sound like a broken record, but the 2011 Super Bowl odds just haven’t moved at all all week—at every update there’s little to say except, “Well, nothing to report here.” Doc’s Sport Service declares it “one of the least interesting Super Bowls in history”, so long as your idea of “interesting” is that meaning where people rub their thumb and forefinger together. The Packers remain favorites by about 2.5 points; the bets continue to come in 50/50 for Vegas, which means that things aren’t about to change before game time.
Of course, maybe this is your idea of thumb-and-forefinger interesting—the Carnegie Museum of Art, in Pittsburgh, has a Renoir original on the line with the Milwaukee Museum of Art, in one of my favorite traditions being continued during Super Bowl XLV. I did not major in art history, but Renoir seems like the big name impressionist here, to Milwaukee’s Caillebotte—I don’t think they checked the line before making this wager. Last year the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art made a similar wager. SLAM is probably hoping against hope that the Rams don’t draft a wide receiver next year.
It’s just about Super Bowl 2011 time—XLV, for our Roman audience—and the anticipation in some circles has hit critical mass. But you have to know where to look before you can get depressed about how bad some of this year’s Super Bowl commercials are, so this year’s Super Bowl time, channel, odds, etc. are as follows:
Time: 5:30 CST. Place: FOX, which has agreed to piss of fans of Family Guy and The Simpsons for one more week. Odds: The Super Bowl line hasn’t really moved in the two weeks we’ve known it would be Packers vs. Steelers; Packers remain the narrow favorites, although Nate Silver cautions that that doesn’t mean we’ll have a close Super Bowl.
Commercials: Some Super Bowl ads have already begun streaming on the internet. Impress your friends by predicting the exact moment in which the Chevy Camaro will transform into a robot and murder the guy who’s hitting it with a novelty foam hammer. We’ve also got a Super Bowl commercials drinking game, if you love commercials about drinking.
More: Super Bowl 2012 coverage.
The 2011 Super Bowl’s Halftime Show features none other than the Black Eyed Peas, which—I don’t know, I guess there’s someone out there who loves the Black Eyes Peas. For the most part they seem to have filled the need for a monocultural pop icon by default. I know (to paraphrase Pauline Kael) no Black Eyed Peas fans, but roller skating rinks and school dances and Casey Kasem and Super Bowl XLV all crave some band that is inoffensive to basically everybody, and the Black Eyed Peas have been drafted to fill that role.
And just in time for the NFL. Following the Janet Jackson debacle—and it’s been so long, now, that it seems strange to remember Janet Jackson the Unstoppable Pop Icon—pop got more aggressively niche-y, rock vanished, and the NFL set out to employ every popular rock-and-roll musician of the last 50 years as a stop-gap measure.
We should have known they were running out when they went with Tom Petty. But now they’re back to real pop music, which hasn’t offered them a lot of entertaining options. We can only hope Fergie finds some way to make them as nervous as Jackson did pre-Damita Jo.
If you're having problems finding an especially sympathetic angle for the Packers vs. Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, you'd be forgiven, primarily for this reason: These guys win all the time. Even if you don't count the Green Bay Packers' nine pre-Super-Bowl NFL Championships, they combine with the Pittsburgh Steelers to have been Super Bowl winners nine times in 11 chances. They don't just reach the pinnacle of the sport often—they win it almost every time.
The Steelers have won six Super Bowls in seven chances, the most in NFL history; their only loss, in Super Bowl XXX, came to the Dallas Cowboys, who trail them with five championships. Thus endeth the Neil O'Donnell era, thanks to Larry Brown. The Steelers won four in the seventies—IX, X, XIII, XIV—and have picked up two more in the last five years, avenging their loss ten years later in Super Bowl XL, in Ben Roethlisberger's rookie season, and Super Bowl XLIII.
The Packers' reputation as hailing from Titletown is mostly on the strength of their victories before the NFL Championship became the Super Bowl. They won the first two—I and II, for those of you who only speak Roman—but didn't return to the Super Bowl until XXXI, where they dispatched the Drew Bledsoe-led New England Patriots in the Louisiana Superdome. They returned the next year, but an aging John Elway led the Denver Broncos to a 31-24 victory in San Diego.
Neither team offers a really sympathetic angle, which is why Super Bowl fans forced to choose in a Packers vs. Steelers scenario might find themselves rooting for the field.
The Green Bay Packers' injury report will continue to mystify until the Super Bowl coin toss, according to a Reuters report that suggests they'll wait as long as possible before announcing whether questionable linebacker Erik Walden is ready to go for the Super Bowl. Frank Zombo, whose dealt with injury problems of his own, is likely to start in Walden's place should the Packers rule him out. Donald Driver will play, however, good news for a Packers offense that will need to find a way to break through the Steelers' vaunted defense.
Zombo, undrafted out of Central Michigan, emerged as the starter after first-stringer Brad Jones hit the IR and held the job until Week 14, when he was hurt after an excellent first eight starts. Since then he's been Wally Pipped by Walden, who was himself hurt in the NFC Championship game. One or the other will start—but it will be a while before we learn who.
Donald Driver, the Packers' veteran wide receiver, is probable despite sitting out some practices ahead of Sunday's game. Driver caught 51 passes for 565 yards in 2010, his worst season since becoming a starter in 2002.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be short two starters on Super Bowl Sunday—Center Maurkice Pouncey and Defensive End Aaron Smith were finally rules out by Mike Tomlin after questions about their status lingered throughout the Super Bowl week. Smith, sidelined by a torn triceps muscle since late October, was a constant specter in Steelers playoff discussions, but they've finally decided he won't be ready after all. Pouncey, dealing with a high ankle sprain from the AFC Championship Game, had earlier expressed confidence in his own readiness, but the team's physicians disagreed.
Doug Legurksy will start at center instead. Legursky, an undrafted free agent who's spent time on the Steelers' practice squad, has never started a game in his brief NFL career. He'll replace Pouncey, a first round draft pick who was named to the 2011 Pro Bowl in his rookie season. Smith, a 34-year-old veteran, has 44 sacks in an NFL career that began in 1999. He played six games in 2010 before being sidelined.
People are gambling as much as ever, but Vegas has kept the Super Bowl line still since we knew who'd be participating—Steelers-Packers remains as unpredictable as ever. The line currently sits at -110 for the Packers, who are narrow favorites in most peoples' admittedly non-clairvoyant eyes.
Pittsburgh Steelers fans dismayed by this turn of events are probably not betting on the 2011 Super Bowl, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette still saw fit to write this primer on the actual mechanics of the betting line. One bookmaker notes that he's not trying to pick a winner so much as find a number that people on both sides of the debate will bet against.
So far, according to said bookmaker, that seems to be working; bets have come in pretty evenly, which leaves Las Vegas likely to be flush with cash come Super Bowl Monday. As for me, when I see the benefits of both sides of the betting line, that's what keeps me from betting at all. Poor, poor bookmakers. They'll be left without my minimum wages again.
James Harrison, already lead quote-dropper of the 2011 Super Bowl and its associated media days, has kicked it into high gear according to the mothership, giving Roger Goodell several pieces of his mind, most of which related to Goodell’s apparent lack of professional football experience.
I’m all for criticizing the NFL—it’s one of my favorite things to do!—but Harrison takes a wrong tack here by assuming that one of the requirements for being the commissioner in 2011 is to have played football at some level. This is the Super Bowl Experience argument writ large, and it’s no more right here than it is anywhere else. In any case, I doubt Harrison thinks “basketball” or “baseball” when he sees David Stern or Bud Selig in a police lineup.
If football players made the rules in football, as Harrison seems to hope, the 2011 Super Bowl’s major question would be how many fatalities we expect to see by the end of it. Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers would probably decide the coin test by having a swordfight.
The Green Bay Packers' injury report for the week before Super Bowl XLV leaves two Packers linebackers, Erik Walden and Frank Zombo, questionable, but both practiced Wednesday and seem less questionable than most. Greg Jennings and A.J. Hawk, both dealing with knee problems, are probable for Sunday's championship game.
Walden and Zombo, who've already played injury musical chairs this season—Zombo emerged as a starter Week 8, after the Packers' linebacker corps was dented by a series of injuries, and was replaced after suffering a knee injury by Walden, who himself is dealing with an ankle injury sustained in the NFC Championship Game. Zombo participated fully in practice, while Walden made an appearance but was limited. The Packers' linebacker situation could remain unclarified until the Super Bowl—a big-game-time decision, if you will.
Zombo is presumably not the owner of Zombocom, a terrifying instrument of mass-hypnosis and Flash usage. But if he were, that's exactly what he'd want you to think. The other probables for Sunday's game are Desmond Bishop, Chad Clifton, and Jason Spitz.
The Pittsburgh Steelers' injury report in the days leading up to the 2011 Super Bowl leaves them with a number of questions, chief among them Maurkice Pouncey's status for Sunday's game. Pouncey, the Steelers' center, didn't practice Wednesday, but he could yet end up playing. Aaron Smith practiced but was limited; ESPN reports that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is less certain about Smith's status; he's been out since October with a torn triceps. Both players were listed as questionable in the injury report, along with safety Will Allen. Noted hair model Troy Polamalu is chief among the Steelers' probables, with his Achilles unlikely to keep him out of Super Bowl XLV and its commercial breaks.
The Steelers find themselves bitten a little harder by the injury bug than the Green Bay Packers going into Sunday, but there's an outside chance that both teams enter the Super Bowl at full strength. We'll see on Sunday just how liberal each side has been with the word "questionable."
Over at Acme Packing Company, SB Nation's Green Bay Packers blog, a major claim has been staked prior to their Super Bowl performance vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers: That the Packers are—rather, remain—America's Team, the hometown Dallas Cowboys be damned.
APC offers as evidence Packers' fans knowledgeability; their incredibly devoted fanbase; and their refusal to move in the direction of the modern NFL. I don't know if these are the stuff of a Great American Team, so much as one with an incredibly tightly knit, regional fanbase, but it's an interesting argument regardless.
And regardless of their long-term claim on the title, they do seem more likely than not to be America's Team for this Super Bowl. The Steelers have had more success more recently, and everybody loves the underdog; they also have a quarterback whose run-ins with the law have found him on the wrong side of most unattached football fans. With moving on from Brett Favre as a storyline and Aaron Rodgers squeaky clean by comparison, the Packers will have themselves quite the bandwagon cheering them on Sunday night.
After Charles Woodson and the Green Bay Packers defeated President Barack Obama’s Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship game, the veteran cornerback managed to earn himself a little extra heat by suggesting that if “the President don’t want to come watch us at the Super Bowl, guess what? ”http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2011/01/charles-woodson-packers-call-out-barack-obama-over-bears-pick/1" target="new">We’re gonna see him." He’s continued the WWE-style feud by explaining his reasoning behind the presidential call-out: “”http://www.footballoutsiders.com/week-quotes/2011/week-quotes-january-28-2011" target="new">Well I voted for him… so why is he not a Green Bay fan? … for him to only go to the Super Bowl because Chicago is there I thought is not fair to me."
The President of the United States of America did not return SB Nation St. Louis’s request for comment, although I have it on good authority that Hosni Mubarak might not have anything better to do next week. Woodson, whose career renaissance continues even as he becomes eligible to run for president himself in 2012, will have to get through the Pittsburgh Steelers to finally meet Obama in person and ask him about his Chicago-centric worldview.
If the Seattle Seahawks had reached the 2011 Super Bowl you'd have been justified in worrying about their win-loss record. But as the 10-6 Green Bay Packers prepare to take on the 12-4 Pittsburgh Steelers the Super Bowl serves less as an indictment of the NFL's playoff system than as an example of the limitations of win-loss records—especially in a 16-game season. The Packers—like the St. Louis Rams—found themselves behind an inferior team in the NFC North, with their point differential telling a story their wins and losses don't divulge.
In 2011 the Packers had the second-best point differential in football, scoring 148 points more than they allowed—five more than the Steelers managed. According to Pro-Football-Reference they both had identical win-loss records of 12.1-3.9.
There are two possible lessons to take from a number like that, and the simpler one is that the Packers got unlucky. Some people will no doubt attribute their poor record in close games to a character flaw, but the fact is that there's just no evidence for such an assertion. If you're looking to give them a demerit re: 2011 Super Bowl performance because of that alleged character flaw—well, there's an Onion article I'd like you to read...
The Seahawks, if you're looking, as a Rams fan, for one last chance to wallow, had an expected win-loss record of 5.5-10.5. Well, at least their draft position is ruined.
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