Super Bowl 45

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The Green Bay Packers ended a 14-year championship drought in dominating fashion, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to win Super Bowl XLV, covering as slim 2.5-point betting favorites.

The Packers’ win, their fourth in Super Bowl history, established QB Aaron Rodgers as one of the NFL’s elite pivots while banishing the ghost of his predecessor Brett Favre, who had led the Packers’ offense for much of the previous two decades.

Green Bay reached the playoffs in unspectacular fashion, winning just three of their last six games to finish the regular season with a 10-6 record to claim the NFC’s second Wild Card berth.

Led by Rodgers’ three TD passes, the Pack got past the Philadelphia Eagles, 21-16, on Wild Card Weekend before demolishing the Atlanta Falcons, 48-21, in the Divisional Playoffs.

Even though he wasn’t at his best, Rodgers was good enough; throwing for 244 yards while running for a TD and making a crucial goal line tackle in Green Bay’s 21-14 win over the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game.

The Steelers won six of their last seven to finish their campaign at 12-4. Pittsburgh dominated down the stretch, allowing just eight points per game in their final six wins, but needed second-half heroics to overcome a 14-point halftime deficit and top the Baltimore Ravens, 31-24, in their AFC Divisional Playoff matchup.

Pittsburgh earned their NFL-record eighth Super Bowl berth with 24 first-half points, knocking off the New York Jets, 24-19, in the AFC Championship Game.

But there would be no heroics on Super Sunday against the Packers, who grabbed an early lead they would not relinquish on a nine-play, 80-yard drive culminating in a 29-yard TD pass by Rodgers to Jordy Nelson.

Things would go from bad to worse for the Steelers on their very next play, as a Ben Roethlisberger pass intended for receiver Mike Wallace was picked off at Pittsburgh’s 37-yard line by Nick Collins, who returned it to the house to suddenly give Green Bay a 14-0 lead.

Leading 21-10 going into the second half, Green Bay surrendered a pair of TDs that cut their lead to 28-25. But after adding a late field goal, the Packers defense shut down the Steelers to close out the victory.

Rodgers’ 304 passing yards and three TDs earned him Super Bowl MVP honors, while sportsbooks paid out on the OVER after pegging the point total at 45.