Following the 2010 season, the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.
The loss alone would be enough to frustrate most Steelers players, but one play in particular stands out for former Steelers defensive back Ryan Clark. That play also shows just how frustrating it can be to play against Aaron Rodgers, even when the defense thinks they have him right where they want him.
Clark, who is now an analyst for ESPN, explained on “Mike & Mike” that he had spent the two weeks leading up to the game planning how he would be named Super Bowl MVP and it all came down to one play. It was a play where Clark knew exactly what was going to happen.
“For two weeks I planned how I was going to be Super Bowl MVP,” Clark said. “I had figured it out. Every time they put [wide receiver] Greg Jennings in the slot … they ran the same play. It never changed.”
For a visual reference. Here is the play. Jennings is in the slot to the left. Clark, playing free safety, is deep and on the other side. Jennings is going to run straight up the field and then cut towards the goal posts. Clark, knowing the play, is going to cheat over and swoop in front of Jennings for the interception, or so he thinks.
Clark read the formation and got excited.
“I say ‘here it is guys, I’m about to pick this ball off and I am going 100 yards!'” Clark said. “I had figured it out. Sure enough, the play starts, I take off running, and it’s the play I thought.”
It didn’t matter, as Clark went on to explain.
“The doggone Aaron Rodgers is so stinking good, he throws it right over my head,” Clark said. “Greg Jennings catches it.”
Here is the play, via the NFL. Rodgers put the ball in the perfect spot, maybe the only spot where a defender couldn’t touch it and Jennings could still catch it. Clark missed the ball by millimeters.
Touchdown Packers. That made it 21-3 and Clark’s dreams of being Super Bowl MVP were over.
But that may not even be the worst of it. According to Clark, on the next drive, Rodgers poured a little salt on the wound with some very subtle trash-talking, which only added to the frustration of facing a player that great.
This story is both hilarious and painful and shows that Clark is still scarred from this play six years later.