Run contain. In our preview of Super Bowl XLV of the Packers defense, I discussed how important it would be for inside linebacker Desmond Bishop to be the last anchor of defense to prevent huge gains by the Pittsburgh Steelers run attack. On the first big rush play by Rashard Mendenhall, it was Bishop who made the tackle with A.J. Hawk after a 15 yard gain. He had a big run stuff of Mewelde Moore that set up a passing situation, leading to Ben Roethlisberger throwing an interception on the next play to Jarrett Bush.
Although Bishop seemed to make a mistake on the Mendenhall rush touchdown to cut the lead to 21-17 by losing contain, for the most part Bishop performed very well in run support, and the Steelers run attack seemed to flicker out during the second half thanks in part to his efforts of preventing big runs that could've given Pittsburgh the lead back. He had three tackles for loss, including the big one on Moore.
Pass coverage. This was an area that we always knew Bishop was solid in, and he made some big open field tackles. He stuffed Mike Wallace for two yards on a 1st and 20. He held Wallace from picking up the 1st down on a 2nd and 6, which led to a Steelers punt two plays later. And he also blew up tight end Heath Miller behind the line of scrimmage to abort another Pittsburgh drive, perhaps making the field goal too long for Sean Suisham to connect with. It's the same sort of playmaking he was doing back at Cal, and all of those hidden plays were crucial to the Packers defensive success in the second half.
Right place, right time. Of course, we come to perhaps the most critical turnover of the game, the Bishop fumble recovery. Let's face it, this was Clay Matthews making a big defensive play by forcing the ball loose from the usually sure-handed Mendenhall, but without Bishop scooping it up, the fumble would have been for naught. This set up Rodgers for the last touchdown drive of the game. The Packers scored 21 points off of turnovers, and Bishop provided them with the opportunity to get the crucial touchdown.
Don't think it was just one California Golden Bear who was needed to earn victory for the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV. Without Bishop, the result could have been much different on Sunday.