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Mendenhall’s Fumble Kills Steelers Momentum

The Steelers in the second half seemed to have it all going their way.

They had pulled within 21-17, were getting pressure on Aaron Rodgers and stopping the Packers offense, and seemed to be on the verge of scoring to take the lead early in the fourth quarter.

Then it happened.

They had turned the ball over twice earlier in the game, but the third and final turnover, this time a fumble by Rashard Mendenhall, stopped the Steelers cold.

It came as the Steelers were on the Green Bay 33 on the first play of the fourth quarter as many Steeler fans in Dallas were starting to feel good about the teams ability to do what they wanted to vs Green Bay.

On the first play of the period the ball was suddenly out of his hands courtesy of a timely hit from Packers all-pro linebacker Clay Matthews, basically knocking away with it the Steelers’ chances of staging one of the NFL title game’s biggest comebacks in Super Bowl history.

For Mendenhall, the mistake could not have come at a worse time. “It hurts; it’s tough. But we did it to ourselves,” the back said after rushing 14 times for 63 yards, including a touchdown.

It seemed that Mendenhall was able to have way rushing through the Packers D for the most part. Mendenhall had 30 yards on eight carries before halftime, and added a 17-yard run to Green Bay’s 33 in the third quarter, and then a TD run four plays later which finished off a 50-yard drive to make it 21-17.

“A lot of the plays, we were taking to the edge,” said Mendenhall. “But we did a pretty good job of running the ball.”

While that was the case, it was the fumble that will stick out in fans memories as the play that in the end stopped the best chance the Steelers had to take the lead away from Green Bay.

Just another sad reminder of the mistakes made in a game that could have easily turned out different.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. brainwise

    February 7, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Must be tremendously disappointing for Mendenhall. First, he had to sit out much of the 2008 run to Super Bowl XLIII with a broken collarbone. Then, after being such a huge part of the offense in 2010, he coughs up the ball at such a critical junction.

    Hats off to the Packers. Their defense made the plays our boys usually make. And that made all the difference.

  2. hwpackerfan

    February 7, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I wanted to let the Steeler fans know that I and everyone I was with watching the Superbowl believe that the Steelers team, fans, and coach are a class act and the Steelers are a great football team. It was a great, clean game, and exciting to the end.

    There is no loser; everyone played the game to win and Pittsburgh has a great team.

    I know how difficult it is to lose, I have been there, and it is a shame that someone has to. Maybe we can do this again next year; how about it?

    • mark

      February 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

      Hwpackerfan, you said it! It was a good game, highlighted by your great Qb’s performance and a defense that made plays. As a LONGtime Steeler fan (over 35 years, Im 42)it was disappointing to watch them lose a Super bowl, but to lose to a legendary and respected franchise like our own in your Green Bay Packers, I am having an easier time with it. The Packers deserved to win,made enough plays on both sides of the ball to win and rose to the occasion. Congratulations and yes, same time next year?

  3. Tom

    February 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    It’s a shame that Johnson totally missed his block. If he had laid a shoulder, even a finger, on Matthews, it may have altered his angle and while he probably still would have gotten a tackle, the ball probably wouldn’t have popped out.

  4. DrGeorge

    February 8, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Good observation, Tom. Mendy doesn’t deserve all the blame heaped on him by the media. As he said, the Steelers were running the ball pretty well, especially earlier in the game when the team had the momentum. Why Arians went away from the run at that point eludes me. If we had continued to grind our way to the end zone and scored, that boneheaded 52 yd. field goal attempt would never have happened, and the outcome would have been very different.

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