ARLINGTON, Texas — The Steelers had all the momentum. The Terrible Towels were out in full force around Cowboys Stadium. Rashard Mendenhall took the handoff with every intention of moving Pittsburgh a little closer to completing an improbable comeback.
Then, a big hit, the ball popped out of Mendenhall's hands, and Desmond Bishop took off with it for the Green Bay Packers.
It would be the biggest mistake on a night filled with them for the Steelers. Green Bay hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy with a 31-25 victory.
Mendenhall's fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter — Pittsburgh's third turnover of the game — helped the Packers hold on after the Steelers attempted to rally from an early 21-3 deficit.
Let's not forget Ben Roethlisberger throwing two interceptions, including a pick that was returned 37 yards for a touchdown by Nick Collins that gave Green Bay 14-0 lead less than 12 minutes into the game. The Packers stretched it out to 21-3 before the Steelers made a game of it.
Roethlisberger hooked up with Hines Ward for a touchdown that made it 21-10 at halftime. Mendenhall rumbled into the end zone from eight yards out to bring Pittsburgh even closer, 21-17. And, as the final period started, the Steelers had second-and-2 at the Green Bay 33.
Then, the fateful play.
Mendenhall took the handoff, but Clay Matthews drove a shoulder right into the runner, and massive Ryan Pickett dived in to complete a 595-pound sandwich. The result of that fearsome collision: the ball came flying out, and Bishop swooped in to scoop it up.
The Packers drove for the touchdown that provided some breathing room.
GAME OF HIS LIFE: Jordy Nelson sure didn't play like a backup.
The third-year pro had the game of a lifetime in the Super Bowl, catching nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown.
The kid from Kansas State was all over the field, snaring passes from Aaron Rodgers and catching a 29-yarder in the right corner of the end zone to give the Packers a 7-0 lead. He also caught a 38-yarder from Rodgers to the Steelers' 3 to set up the TD that put the Packers ahead 28-17 early in the fourth quarter.
When all was done, he had set a Packers record for receiving yards in a Super Bowl set by Max McGee, who had 138 yards in the first Super Bowl.
Nelson and James Jones are the backup for Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, but Nelson was the go-to guy in the biggest game of all.
SUPER BABY: Super Bowl Sunday was a big day for Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Jarius Wynn, who was present for the birth of his son at a Dallas-area hospital.
Wynn, a sixth-round draft pick in 2009, was released Sept. 4 before the start of this season. But he was re-signed Sept. 14 after a season-ending knee injury to defensive lineman Justin Harrell.
SUNNY DAY: Finally, it was a decent day in Big D.
Sunny, blue skies and temperatures in the mid-50s greeted Packers and Steelers fans as they streamed into gigantic Cowboys Stadium.
Most of the snow from the storm earlier in the week was cleared from around the stadium, but four of the 10 gates were not open a few hours before kickoff. Stadium officials established safe corridors around potential fall zones.
Six workers were injured Friday when sheets of ice fell from the stadium following a Thursday night snowstorm.
OOPS: Christina Aguilera says she flubbed a line as she belted out the national anthem at the start of the Super Bowl after getting lost in the moment and losing her place.
"I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through," she said.
When she was supposed to sing the line "O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming," she instead repeated an earlier line, with a slight variation.
She sang "What so proudly we watched at the twilight's last gleaming," which is the same line from earlier in the song but with the word "watched" instead of "hailed."
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