Regular Redskins Hog Heaven readers know the high regard we hold for Paul Bessire of the PredictionMachine.com. The stat wizard correctly predicted Washington's six-win season, their win over Chicago and the loss to Detroit when nobody expected those outcomes. So I pay attention when Bessire's crystal ball flashes a Green Bay win in Super Bowl 45.
The notion of a Packer win challenges my conventional thinking that the Pittsburgh Steelers are unbeatable. But Bessire's projections have the Pack winning 60.5 percent of his 50,000 statistical simulations of the game with the final score around 22-19 Packers.
The Redskins played the Packers in NFL Week 5 (Oct 10, 2010). Any lessons for the Steelers there?
There is a cliche that more football games are lost than are won. The Packers lost the Redskins game. Injuries were a factor. The Packers lost four players during the game, including LB Clay Matthews in the fourth quarter (hamstring). The Redskins concussed Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter. He did not leave the game. He should have. Nine penalties hurt the Packers. Five of those penalties allowed Redskins first downs. A 10-play, 85 yard first quarter drive that took 5:42 died with a turnover on downs...at the Redskins one yard line.
Green Bay was ahead 13-3 at the top of the fourth quarter after dominating the Redskins' offense to that point. Donovan McNabb's big play 48 yard scoring strike to Anthony Armstrong was set up by Brandon Banks' 30 yard punt return. On the critical fourth quarter drive that ended with the field goal to tie, the Redskins attacked the middle of the Packer defense--where Clay Matthews would have been--with a four yard run by Ryan Torain and two key passes to TE Chris Cooley for 30 yards.
Mason Crosby's missed 53 yard field goal attempt with 0:02 would have avoided overtime. Green Bay's two overtime possessions ended in a sack and a LaRon Landry interception.
Washington extended the effect of ts Green Bay win to the following week when the Packers faced and lost to Miami without QB Aaron Rodgers under center.
The Packers proved themselves a tough, resilient team by back filling a long list of injured players. They won seven of their last ten games. It's unlikely they will look past the Steelers as they may have done with the Redskins.
I admire the Pack for their accomplishments but I'm pulling for the Steelers. If Pittsburgh takes a page from the Redskins book, they should seek big plays and be very physical against the Packers. Hits and pressure on Aaron Rodgers changes the Packer offense. Hits and pressure are what the Steelers do well. Coping with it is what the Packers do well.
Beating Green Bay won't be easy. Paul Bessire says Pittsburgh has a four-in-ten chance to pull it off.
Related story: The Steelers n'at blog - the enemy of our enemy is our friend
Point after: RHH's Greg Trippiedi (@GTrippiedi) tweets that the last time the Redskins did not play the Super Bowl winner in the regular season was the 2005 Steelers.