Win is quiet triumph for former Panthers coach

Dom Capers, Packers defensive coordinator, has spent a lifetime carefully mapping path to a Super Bowl victory

dgantt@heraldonline.comFebruary 7, 2011 

— Dom Capers had a plan for Ben Roethlisberger.

Dom Capers had a plan for Charles Woodson getting hurt.

What he had no answers for, however, was reaching his goal.

The Green Bay defensive coordinator and former Carolina Panthers head coach pushed all the right buttons Sunday night, helping the Packers to a 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers to win Super Bowl XLV.

Capers has each day scheduled out for years, with meticulously hand-written notebooks to fill in the details he's highly unlikely to forget. But stick him in the middle of a celebration, and he shrugged and stammered and couldn't get through it.

"I haven't done this in so long, so it probably won't hit me until tomorrow," Capers said sheepishly. "I really don't know what to say."

The Packers assistant had his work cut out for him Sunday, facing a white-hot quarterback with a reputation as a playoff winner. Then he lost star cornerback Charles Woodson to a broken collarbone in the second quarter, forcing him to adjust his defense, to play far more zone than he ever anticipated.

But that was fine by the Packers, who have come to trust him implicitly to build a championship defense.

"He's the best defensive coordinator in the NFL," nose tackle B.J. Raji said. "Give this man time and he will make it work. He adjusts real quick, and with two weeks to look at tape, we knew he'd have a plan."

The Packers forced three turnovers, a calling card of his defenses throughout the years, with stops as coordinator in Pittsburgh and Jacksonville and head coach in Carolina and Houston.

But none of what he experienced before prepared him for the feeling of finally winning.

"He doesn't give us much time off," defensive line coach Mike Trgovac (the former Panthers defensive coordinator) said. "Hopefully now he'll give us a minute to enjoy it."

Capers mostly grinned and nodded through his time on a podium, offering the same kind of measured responses he's given to every question throughout the years.

"When you've been doing this 25 years, obviously it's a very gratifying feeling," he said evenly, his calm words belying the smile on his face.

He even threw in a "you're never as good as people think when you're doing well," half of the mantra he's repeated so many times over the years as he taught his players to keep an even keel.

It wasn't emotional, but that's not Capers.

It was just effective.

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