Jennings Shows Hands of Steel

With the help of Greg Jennings and receivers coach Jimmy Robinson, we examine the three big-time plays that Jennings made to help Green Bay hold off Pittsburgh in Sunday's Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas.

DALLAS – Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson were the stars on offense. Clay Matthews and Nick Collins did their things on defense. Charles Woodson and Donald Driver were the proud-but-injured champions.

But Greg Jennings had perhaps the best four-catch performance in Super Bowl history in terms of clutch plays in the Green Bay Packers' 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium.

"You have to bottle all of your emotions up but at the same time, you want to embrace this atmosphere and opportunity," Jennings said after the game. "You never know when you're going to be awarded a chance to get back on this stage. I came out here early. I normally don't come out here during pregame. I wanted to come out and let some of the emotions fly so I wouldn't have too much anxiety coming out for pregame. I let some get out and once we got out [to the field], it was pedal to the metal for 60 minutes."

Jennings' first big play came late in the first half. On first down from the Steelers' 21, Jennings lined up uncovered in the slot and ran to the post. He got a free release and sped past linebacker James Farrior, who was supposed to redirect Jennings' route. Aaron Rodgers fired a bullet to Jennings, with the ball arriving just before free safety Ryan Clark could make the ball. As Jennings caught the ball, he was blasted in the back by Troy Polamalu. The touchdown made it 21-3.

Considering the injuries that decimated the Packers' secondary, those points were crucial. The Steelers had pulled within 21-17 and were driving toward the go-ahead touchdown when Clay Matthews forced a game-changing fumble that was recovered by Desmond Bishop. Eight plays later, on second-and-goal from the 8, Jennings somehow got wide open for an easy pitch-and-catch touchdown from Rodgers that made it 28-17 with 11:57 remaining.

"It was a corner route," Jennings explained. "I had a corner route the entire time and they dropped me and let me run free the play before. They dropped me on another corner route and we came back to it and scored on that play."

But those plays might take a back seat to the remarkable and clutch connection with the Packers hanging on for dear life late in the game. With Pittsburgh having pulled within 28-25, the Packers were on the ropes. Starting from their 25 with 7:29 remaining, Rodgers took a 4-yard sack on first down after James Starks blew a blitz protection. On third-and-5, Daryn Colledge was called for a false start. Suddenly, it was third-and-10 and the Terrible Towel-waving portion of the pro-Pittsburgh contingent smelled blood. But Rodgers and Jennings delivered.

Jennings lined up in the slot just to the left of tackle Chad Clifton. With Ike Taylor lined up in press coverage, Jennings took an outside release and got off the line of scrimmage unscathed, Jennings then curved back to the middle of the field, with Rodgers fitting the ball between Taylor and the safeties. The 31-yard gain not only kept the drive alive – and the clock ticking – but set up a field goal that made it a six-point game.

"Huge. Outstanding throw by Aaron," Jennings said, thinking that the ball just ticked Taylor's glove.

"Great route and great pass," receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said. "That's what champions do. You've got to make those plays at a big time in the game. Who knows what could have happened? If we don't make that play, we've got to punt the ball. It could be a whole different outcome. And then we hit a nice run after that with James, which was well-blocked. That was a really big drive right there. "

In four playoff games, Jennings finished with 21 catches for 303 yards and the two touchdowns. Not bad, considering Jennings was held to one grab for 8 yards at Philadelphia.

"Greg's always there," Robinson said. "When you look at the games that he played down the stretch, it's hard to say he was better in this one or better in that one. He's just always there. He's always at his best."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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