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“I saw the play coming back my way,” he said. “Fortunately, through film work, I was able to tell my defensive end what to do and I was able to make the play. It was key at the time. They were driving on us. We were able to get that turnover and turn it into points, which was the difference in the game.”

Bishop was closing in on Mendenhall when the ball squirted loose. It landed near a couple of Pittsburgh linemen, but they never saw it, allowing the Green Bay linebacker a clear shot to make the recovery on the run. He was thinking touchdown, but made it only 7 yards before he was tackled at the 45.

Good enough.

“We could see the counter (play),” Bishop said. “Me and Clay talked about it before the snap. We thought they would come back our way. I read it and I was just relentlessly pursuing to the ball. It happened to pop out. I scooped it up and tried to score.”

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense took care of the remaining 55 yards, scoring the touchdown that provided some breathing room. The Steelers never quit, answering with a TD of their own to make it close again, but Green Bay held on the final possession to send the Lombardi Trophy back to the home of the coach whose name it bears.

For the Steelers, only that most dreaded of questions:

What if?

“I feel like I let the city of Pittsburgh down — the fans, the coaches, my teammates,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s not a good feeling.”

Imagine how Mendenhall was feeling.

“I just got hit and the ball came out. It just happened, and it should not have happened,” he said. “It’s tough. We did it to ourselves. We didn’t play well enough to win, and it is a long ride home.”