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The loss that still stings

Posted Dec 19, 2013

Emmanuel Sanders remembers the confetti falling from above at Cowboys Stadium. He remembers what he was thinking, as well.

“I got to come back and next time let it fall on me as a champion,” Sanders recalled.

Ben Roethlisberger’s recollections of Super Bowl XLV are much more succinct.

“We lost,” Roethlisberger offered.

Mike Tomlin wouldn’t even go that far.

“Oh, gosh, that’s light years ago in football terms,” Tomlin insisted when the game was brought up at his weekly news conference on Tuesday. “That’s the first time I even really thought about it. I don’t know how many guys on our team are still here from that experience, and I am sure they can say the same thing. That’s bygones.”

Bygones, but not forgotten.

THEN AND NOW
Times have changed since the Packers captured their 13th NFL championship and denied the Steelers their seventh, but there are still plenty of recognizable names that participated on both sides in Green Bay’s 31-25 victory on Feb. 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.

Ramon Foster, Heath Miller, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Spaeth started on offense for the Steelers, and all might do so again on Sunday at Lambeau Field if the Steelers open in a two-tight ends set again.

Ryan Clark, William Gay, Brett Keisel, Lawrence Timmons, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, and Lawrence Timmons were starters on defense then and will play again on Sunday, with the possible exception of Keisel (foot).

Shaun Suisham was the Steelers’ kicker and Greg Warren the long-snapper. Will Allen, Antonio Brown, Ziggy Hood, Sanders, and Stevenson Sylvester were Pittsburgh reserves.

Green Bay’s offensive and defensive starting lineups for Super Bowl XLV included A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson, B.J. Raji, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Sitton, and Tramon Williams, and all but Rodgers (collarbone) figure to be participants again this time around.

The list of other carry-over Packers in advance of Sunday’s rematch includes Jarrett Bush, Mason Crosby, Brett Goode, John Kuhn, T.J. Lang, Tim Masthay, Andrew Quarless, Sam Shields, and James Starks.

The Green Bay contingent was reminded a week ago about the impending reunion.

“It’s kind of unique to play Dallas in Dallas in the building that you won the Super Bowl in, and then play the Steelers the following week,” Coach Mike McCarthy allowed. It felt good. It felt good to drive back into the stadium, no doubt about it.”

A LIFETIME OF MEMORIES
The Steelers were 87 yards away with 1:59 remaining.

They had survived a 24-completion, 304-yard, three-touchdown performance from Rodgers well enough to remain within a touchdown of winning on a last-minute possession – just as they had in Super Bowl XLIII against Arizona.

“I thought we were going to win it,” Polamalu said.

This time they came up 67 yards short when the offense relinquished possession on a third straight incompletion with 49 seconds left.

Sanders was watching the Super Bowl at that point, having been knocked from the game due to a broken foot.

“I tried to (play through it), but the pain was just too unbearable,” he said. “I remember being in the locker room, being mad, furious, crying. So many emotions.”

He’ll never forget.

“No, you can’t, you can’t you can’t.” Sanders continued. “As much as you want to, you can’t. Because at the end of the day they took something away from me that I will never forget no matter what. No matter how long I live I’m always going to remember the Super Bowl, and we lost and Aaron Rodgers having a damn near perfect game.”

“I try to forget, but I don’t think I ever will,” Miller added. “Not good memories, you know? I don’t know if I’ll ever be a Packers fan because of that. I think you have an appreciation for getting there the longer you play. And when you’re that close and you come up short, it’s something that you probably never forget.”

Roethlisberger initially maintained he hadn’t thought much about that game since, even when prepping for Green Bay this week, before eventually coming clean.

“How do you not?” he said. “The Green Bay media asked me the same thing (on a conference call). What do you remember? I said, ‘Losing.’ That’s all that matters. That’s all you remember from a game like that.

“It’s here-and-now; that was a few years ago. We’re a different team, they’re a different team. It’s not like, OK, let’s go get some payback, revenge, things like that. It’s just, let’s go up and take care of the business we set out to try to take care of.”

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