Until the postseason, Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams was the guy who played opposite Charles Woodson, the guy opposing teams threw at if they wanted a chance to win.
But when Woodson went down with a broken collarbone, it was up to Williams to make the big plays — just like he has throughout the playoffs.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a natural for MVP of Super Bowl 45. He threw lasers all over Cowboys Stadium Sunday night, three going for touchdowns in Green Bay's 31-25 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rodgers, by the way, now has as many Super Bowl rings as Brett Favre.
None of that would have been possible, however, if not for Williams and his bookend big plays.
One saved the Packers a catastrophic start. The other clinched the victory.
The clincher you'll see on all the highlights. With Pittsburgh facing fourth-and-5 at its 33 and 56 seconds left, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw high to Mike Wallace. Wallace got both hands on the ball. Williams got one, and that was enough to bat the ball away. The Steelers, who spent the whole game digging out after landing in a 14-0 first-quarter hole, were finished.
Williams' first big play of the day, however, might be forgotten but shouldn't. He nearly fumbled away the Packers' first possession inside their 20. As teammate Sam Shields barely avoided running into him, Williams muffed the catch and wound up on the bottom of a pile of players that took officials 30 seconds to unpile. When they finally had, Williams was came out with the ball.
The crowd inside Cowboys Stadium revealed itself as a majority Steelers crowd later in the game. But if Williams hadn't covered his mistake there, that discovery would have been made much earlier and the game might have been much different.
All of which capped an amazing postseason performance for Williams, whose interception in the end zone clinched the Packers' first-round victory at Philadelphia. His interceptions on consecutive possessions at Atlanta — the first in the end zone, the second returned for a touchdown as time expired in the first half — turned that game into a rout.
The Steelers' Troy Polamalu might have the best mane; the Packers' Clay Matthews had the best game.
The discussion of who has the better mane can rage on. As for who had the better game, the Packers linebacker, a Suave shampoo spokesman, scored a decisive victory over Steelers safety Polamalu, a Head & Shoulders spokesman. Neither was particularly active in the first half. And for a while, the Steelers were succeeding with a plan of neutralizing Matthews by running right at him. That's where Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall broke several of his better runs.
But Matthews came alive in the third quarter. His first big play slowed momentum built from consecutive touchdown drives that pulled Pittsburgh to within 21-17. On first down at the Packers 29, Matthews recovered from Roethlisberger's bootleg fake in time to jump high and bat down a pass. The drive stalled and Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham's missed a 53-yard field goal.
Matthews' biggest play set up the Packers' only touchdown of the second half, forcing Mendenhall's fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter. Eight plays later, Rodgers tossed a 8-yard TD pass to Greg Jennings and Green Bay 21 points off Pittsburgh turnover.