Super Bowl 45: Curran's five first half thoughts

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Super Bowl 45: Curran's five first half thoughts

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
The score is 21-10 and the Steelers are fortunate to still be in striking distance in Super Bowl 45. Important to remember: the largest deficit overcome in a Super Bowl is 10. Pittsburgh got itself down 21-3 before the late touchdown to Hines Ward. The Super Bowl Halftime 5 brought to you by...Comcast Sportsnet New England. ROETHLISBERGER'S LEGACY?The Packers have 14 points directly off of Ben Roethlisberger picks. The first came as a result of pressure in his face as he tried to step into a throw to speedy Mike Wallace. Wallace was open against Tramon Williams, but the throw was so affected Nick Collins was able to step in and easily make the pick and return it for the score. The next pick was a force, picked off at midfield by Jarret Bush. Four plays later, the Packers were in the end zone again after a beautiful throw by Aaron Rodgers. Roethlisberger is 13 for 21 for 143 yards with a touchdown and two picks. He's going to need a big second half to make up for putting Pittsburgh in a hole. No team has ever lost a Super Bowl in which it had an interception returned for a touchdown. FLEET OF INJURIESSo far we've got Packers wideout Donald Driver getting his ankle x-rayed (negative), Steelers wideout Emmanuel Sanders leaving with a foot injury, right tackle Flozell Adams leaving (then returning) with a shoulder injury and Packers DB Charles Woodson (shoulder) leaving for the locker room just before halftime. There is undeniably a greater level of speed, intensity and recklessness in Super Bowls and that's obvious right now. Steelers DB Bryant McFadden (shoulder) and Packers DB Sam Shields also are questionable to return in the second half. STEELERS O-LINE GETTING PUSHED BACKEarly on, the Steelers were very effective running off right guard with running back Rashard Mendenhall right at Packers OLB Clay Matthews. Mendenhall had 5 carries for 30 yards in the first half. By the break he had 8 carries for 30 yards. The concerns about the Steelers offensive line trying to deal with BJ Raji, Cullen Jenkins and Ryan Pickett,especially on the inside, are well-founded. PACKERS TIGHT EARLYThe Packers seemed tight at the start of the game. A muffed punt, a failure to down a punt, a mistimed dive by Jordy Nelson all seemed indicative of that. But once the Packers got the ball back on their second drive and started pounding it to Nelson with William Gay in coverage, Green Bay settled in nicely. Rodgers is having a terrific game in his first chance and hasn't seen any pressure from the Steelers blitz schemes. Neither team has a sack yet. BIG NAMES ON STEELERS D SILENTNothing yet from James Harrison or Troy Polamalu. Polamalu was in the vicinity on both touchdown catches. Early in the third, William Gay had a key breakup on a slant to James Jones which - if Gay hadn't gotten a hand on it - may have gone the distance. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady can be his own worst critic. That's why last week, after beating the Texans in the Divisional Round to move on to the AFC title game, he wasn't thrilled. He didn't play up to his standards. The offense struggled at points. He wore his frustration like a five o'clock shadow.

Winning is not everything for Brady, most weeks. He has an idea of how he should perform, how the Patriots offense should perform, and when those ideals aren't met, he's generally displeased. 

PATRIOTS 36, STEELERS 17

On Sunday, after beating up on the Steelers, 36-17, that wasn't the case. It was a sound performance, but it wasn't perfect. It was explosive at times, but it shined a light on areas where the Patriots will need to continue to improve. 

Despite its imperfections, Sunday was no time to brood about plays missed or lessons learned the hard way. Screw it, Brady seemed to say. They were going to the Super Bowl. It was OK to smile.  

"It was a good day," Brady said. "I mean, we're going to the Super Bowl, man. [Expletive], you've got to be happy now."

The Super Bowl berth is the ninth in franchise history -- more than any other club -- and the seventh with Brady and coach Bill Belichick. By throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, Brady tied Joe Montana for the most postseason games (nine) with three touchdown passes. 

Brady will also claim the record for Super Bowls played when he and the Patriots head to Houston. And if they win, he'll tie Charles Haley for most Super Bowl wins for a player (five).

Those are lofty numbers made even more significant, perhaps, due to the fact that Brady wasn't allowed to start this season as his team's quarterback. He was asked during Sunday's postgame press conference if it was personally satisfying to get back to the Super Bowl despite having to serve a four-game suspension due to Deflategate.

"Well, that's because of the hard work of a lot of people from my coaches to my teammates to our families that support us," he said. "It takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work and a lot of effort over the course of many months. This didn't start at 6:40 tonight.

"This thing started in April. It really started before that in free-agency when we were picking up guys like [Chris] Hogan and drafting guys like Malcolm Mitchell and guy who were in rehab like [LeGarrette Blount] and [Dion Lewis] and [James Develin] and Nate [Solder]. It's a lot of hard work. There are only two teams left standing, and I'm happy we're one of them."

They're going to the Super Bowl. He has to be happy now.