Steelers, Packers To Meet In Super Bowl XLV

The matchup for next month's Super Bowl in Dallas is set: The Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Green Bay Packers. The Steelers beat the New York Jets 24-19 in the AFC championship game Sunday. The Packers defeated the Chicago Bears 21-14 in the NFC championship game.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Super Bowl XLV is set. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers. Both of those teams won their conference championship game yesterday by establishing an early lead, and then playing just enough defense to hold off their opponents.

NPR's Mike Pesca is here with more, good morning.

MIKE PESCA: Hello.

MONTAGNE: Hello. So let's start off by telling us how the Packers beat the Bears in Chicago.

PESCA: Well, this game, it had the tone and tenor that the Bears kept dodging bullets, and those bullets were being thrown by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers and his Packers marched down the field to start the game, seven-nothing almost immediately. In the second quarter it was 14-nothing, and you almost got the sense they could do whatever they wanted to against the Bears, but they didn't.

They didn't increase the score for a while. And then what could have been the turning point of the game occurred in the third quarter - late in the third. Two Bears quarterbacks were removed from the game, the starter, Jay Cutler went down to injury, and his backup was pulled from the game because he was pretty bad.

So the Bears inserted their third string - what's called their emergency quarterback, Caleb Hanie. A little-known guy who had the opportunity to turn this into one of those Disney movies. Because when he came onto the field, he did give the Bears a spark. And this guy no one ever heard of started marching the Bears down the field, and it really became a game, but by the fourth quarter the Bears had pulled ahead and the - sorry, the Packers had stayed ahead, and the Bears just couldn't catch up.

A key play in the game was an interception return for a touchdown by one of the biggest men on the field, B.J. Raji. He scored for the Packers, 21-14 was the final score there.

MONTAGNE: And how about the Steelers who beat the Jets 24-19?

PESCA: This was kind of similar in that to start the game the Steelers came down and they - first drive for a touchdown. And the Steelers just dominated the first half. And the way they did it was through running. Now in the NFL these days, people do give lip service to how important the running game is, but really among coordinators, people want to throw the ball.

The last few Super Bowls have featured teams that have offered awesome passing games, but Rashard Mendenhall was just impossible to tackle by the Jets. And because of his running, he helps the Steelers establish a 24-3 halftime lead.

But the second half was all Jets. And so it was a tale of two halves, but the Steelers were better in their half, the first half, than the Jets were in their half. And that was really the difference in the game. The Steelers 24-19 over the Jets.

MONTAGNE: So what does the Super Bowl hold in store?

PESCA: Well, you know, this is - these are two great franchise, maybe two of the greatest. The Steelers have won six Super Bowls, the Packers have won three Super Bowls. They both did lose one Super Bowl. The Packers, in the days before there were Super Bowls played, they won nine championships, so they're both tough teams. They both play hard. They both play smart.

I see that the Packers are favorites, and that did kind of surprise me because they had a worse record than the Steelers going into the game. But if nothing else, it will be two interesting quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger for the Steelers and Aaron Rodgers for the Packers. They play different styles, and really good defenses and well-coached teams too.

MONTAGNE: And Mike, let's end this conversation by marking the passing of the man regarded as the founder of the modern fitness movement, Jack LaLanne. He died yesterday at the age of 96. And here he is speaking to NPR's Tom Goldman about exercising each and every day right to the end.

(Soundbite of Interview with Jack LaLanne)

TOM GOLDMAN: Ever missed a day...

Mr. JACK LaLANNE: Never missed a day.

GOLDMAN: ...ever had a - ever had a day of doubt?

Mr. LaLANNE: Never, never, never. It's my religion, it's my life. That's why I was put on this earth, I believe this, to help people.

MONTAGNE: And Mike, you have ten seconds to tell us what made Jack LaLanne so revolutionary.

PESCA: Somewhere a barge is undragged by a man's teeth. Jack LaLanne got it right. He told us that working out and lifting weights were good for us, and a lot of gurus have come and gone, but he was correct.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Mike Pesca. Thanks very much. This is NPR News.

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