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Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall Denies Blame For Costly Fumble That Lost Super Bowl XLV In 4th Quarter

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Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall Denies Blame For Costly Fumble That Lost Super Bowl XLV In 4th Quarter

It’s a memory that many Pittsburgh Steelers fans have likely blocked out of their memory. It’s a thought that is buried somewhere next to the AFC Championship in 1994, Super Bowl XXX, or any playoff game against the New England Patriots in recent memory. It’s the moment that the Steelers comeback in Super Bowl XLV ended and all hope vanished from the Pittsburgh sideline.

Steelers Rashard Mendenhall

Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall fumbles during Super Bowl XLV //Photo New York Times

The Steelers had trailed the Green Bay Packers 21-3 at half time, but they had taken control of the game in the third quarter. It was 21-17 when Green Bay punted from their own 8 yard line. Ben Roethlisberger and company would take over from the Packers 41 yard line. On the first play of the drive Mendenahall would carry it for 8 yards to set the Steelers up with a second and short as the third quarter ran out. But the next play would such the momentum from the Steelers.

As Mendenhall took a hand off from Roethlisberger, Packers star linebacker Clay Matthews would come untouched off the edge to meet Mendenhall shortly after he received the hand off. Helmet meet ball. The ball would be dislodged and pop into the air and the Packers would easily recover.


Following the Super Bowl way back in February of 2011 Matthews told the New York Times that he didn’t even know that he had caused a fumble.

“I was able to get around my guy and make a solid hit right on the football,” said Matthews, who was officially credited with the forced fumble. “I wasn’t sure that it had come out until I looked up and saw Desmond with the ball.”

Way back in 2020 Mendenhall spoke about the fumble in a profanity laced tirade on a Twitter post. The response on Twitter came after fans were coming after him on Twitter for fumbling.

On Sunday Mendenhall unprovoked posted a tweet deflecting the blame of that costly play.

I never fumbled that ball… #SBXLV

My coaches would feel like ******** to say that I did, I never did.

I was SEPARATED from the ball, 4 yards into the backfield.

That’s the RB equivalent of a strip-sack.

There’s NOTHING I could’ve done about it.

Respect my career.

When a quarterback is strip sacked doesn’t the blame usually still fall on the quarterback? In general when a team does bad doesn’t the blame go on the quarterback? It sounds like Mendenhall is still in denial over the play, and can’t admit to any of the blame. Was the Super Bowl loss solely on him? No, a lot of the blame had to fall on Roethlisberger, and the offensive line. Not to mention a defense that outside of the third quarter wasn’t very good.

“Three turnovers to zero,” Pittsburgh defensive end Brett Keisel said of the difference in the game. “Every time they got a turnover they scored.”

Steelers Bryant McFadden

The problem was that the Steelers had finally recovered from their atrocious first half. The Packers had lost Charles Woodson one of their defensive leaders and the Steelers were shoving it down their throat. The problem was that had Mendenhall not fumbled the Steelers would’ve won that game. They were in total control and the only thing that was going to stop them was a big momentum changing, game changing play. And it happened as a result of Mendenhall.

Did he have much of a chance to do anything once he received the hand off from Roethlisberger? No, not much. And in his defense he’s right, it was a perfect, textbook hit by Matthews. But your job is to hold onto the ball. And he didn’t.

Take the blame, Rashard. It’s the right thing to do. Maybe then you’ll be a peace with something that happened over a decade ago.


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