Filed under: NFL | Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Sports, Super Bowl
Well, at least I got the “close game” part right.
What a wildly entertaining Super Bowl XLV it was. After a week which didn’t give the media much to work with, Sunday took America by storm, reeling in the football masses.
What unfolded after a botched National Anthem by the aging Christina Aguilera was a football game which could only be defined as a “classic.” What transpired between 90 second blocks of horrendous commercials could only be described as the two toughest football teams left with trading blows for a full 60 minutes.
While the Steelers bid for a comeback ultimately fell short, they made a quite a game out of it. Pittsburgh was able to persevere through multiple Ben Roethlisberger gaffes early in the game to give the first half some semblance and nearly pulled off a patented Steelers comeback.
But it was not to be. Why, you may ask?
Aaron Rodgers grew up. And he grew up with the entire city of Green Bay on his back.
I’ve been especially critical of Rodgers, noting his inability to play a full 60 minutes when it matters most. And while by no means was his game perfect on Sunday,(the 3rd Quarter had the Packer faithful trembling)Rodgers didn’t allow himself to become flustered.
He didn’t allow Philadelphia to happen. He didn’t allow Chicago to happen.
What we saw was a quarterback who witnessed all of the pressure, criticism, and expectations from the Titletown USA faithful, pass him by.
What we saw was a quarterback who relished in the glory the Super Bowl brought, and would not let his Packers team return to the frozen tundra without a trophy which endures the utmost respect in Green Bay.From Vince Lombardi, to Bart Starr, to Brett Favre, the Packers are built with franchise names as their cornerstone. Someone needs to make room for Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers undoubtedly faced adversity which would be difficult for many QB’s to overcome. His security blanket Donald Driver, done after 1 quarter. The best cornerback in the league Charles Woodson(sorry Mr. Revis) left after one half with a broken collarbone. Sam Shields and Nick Collins went down as well, decimating the Packers defense and morale. Rodgers was the victim of 4 drops, 1 in the end zone, and 3 by Jordy Nelson.
He had to stare across the field during the third quarter as the Steelers captured momentum and looked to complete a comeback. The pressure of a true “winner” in Ben Roethlisberger looming over him.
And he didn’t budge.
Instead, Rodgers commanded a 4th quarter which attacked the best defense in the league, beating them through the air on two separate drives. Rodgers made the AP Defensive Player of the Year, Troy Polamalu, look absolutely abysmal in coverage. He negated his playmaking ability by shaking him off on multiple occasions, including the instrumental 8 yard TD pass to Greg Jennings.
Rodgers created magic again later in the quarter, when Green Bay needed to kill roughly 7 minutes. He completed passes of 31 and 21 yards to Jennings and James Jones respectively, moving Green Bay into field goal territory. By the time Pittsburgh got the ball back, they had 1 timeout and 119 seconds to go 87 yards, a task Roethlisberger was not fit to achieve.
What Rodgers and the Packers did was essentially spit in the face of critics, disprove the claim adversity kills. The team fought through key injuries from preseason to the final half of the game. They fought through the twittergate of Super Bowl XLV. Rodgers had to deal with the universal truth that he could simply not win the Super Bowl against Roethlisberger because of “experience.”
Well Rodgers and the rest of Green Bay gave experience the cold shoulder Sunday night. While Pittsburgh may own 6 rings, and Roethlisberger may “know how to win,” he didn’t “experience” a win Sunday. He can’t add a Super Bowl MVP trophy to his arsenal.
Rodgers did, and Rodgers has.
And something tells me that this won’t be his last time on the grandest stage either.
Filed under: NFL | Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, NFL, Packers, Sports, Steelers, Super Bowl Preview
Dare I say, our beloved Super Bowl week has been boring?
No, not the Super Bowl. It’s the giant spectacle capturing the attention of the entire world. And while I’m as excited as the next guy for Sunday, the week of hype has been a polar opposite. The two biggest stories have been the weather(the game is being played in a dome), and when the Packers would take their team photo. Media day was essentially a bore, the most exciting aspect possibly being the unintentional comedy created during every James Harrison interview.
But behind the relative lull, the “eye before the storm,” is a game which could very easily go down as one of the timeless Super Bowl classics. The Super Bowl has become a 2 week celebration, a spectacle that’s become lost even within itself at times. While we may not have A-List parties, we will have an A-List performance tomorrow night.
Super Bowl XLV matches Pittsburgh’s 2nd ranked defense against Green Bay’s 5th ranked defense. Pittsburgh allowed 14.5 points per game in the regular season, Green Bay was hot on their heels with 15.It comes as no surprise that Pittsburgh and Green Bay possess the two best defenses in the league to date, and they’ll face off in Dallas.
Offensively, could you think of a better quarterback match-up? Quarterbacks make the NFL’s money, there’s no way around it. Already in the green thanks to the Super Bowl, the NFL lucked out, with Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger leading their respective teams. On one end, you have the winner. Roethsliberger follows a Pittsburgh QB tradition, simply winning Super Bowls. If he wins his third, will he finally get the same respect Tom Brady receives?
Aaron Rodgers, despite not owning any hardware, is the upcoming poster boy of the NFL. He’s the next wave of prolific NFL QB’s. While Roethlisberger is every bit the grit and determination that comprises the NFL phenomenon, Rodgers is the aerial highlight reel. But can his fantasy football-esque numbers translate into success on football’s biggest stage?
There are two major obstacles holding Green Bay back from a shoe-in victory. Their lack of experience in the Super Bowl, and their inconsistency down the stretch in games of high magnitude.
Mike McCarthy. Aaron Rodgers. James Starks. Greg Jennings. Donald Driver. Clay Matthews. B.J Raji. Tramon Williams. All big names for Green Bay, all Super Bowl rookies. Will the bright lights of Dallas blind them? Will the pressure of a Pittsburgh team which knows they have the mental upper hand over Green Bay get to the Packers youngsters?
If recent Super Bowl’s are any indication, the answer is no. The Saints were about as wide-eyed as you could be heading into the Super Bowl. The New York Giants topped an experienced New England team in 2007. Just a year before that, the Indianapolis Colts won their first Super Bowl with that roster.
So if experience doesn’t count Green Bay out, what will? Could it be Aaron Rodgers?
Aaron Rodgers? But he’s received so many accolades leading up to “the big one!”
He’s also struggled mightily at the most inopportune times. Against Chicago just 2 weeks ago, Rodgers sputtered for the last 3 quarters. Against the Eagles, he was unable to put them away and almost allowed Michael Vick the time of day to lead another comeback. Against the Bears in week 17, a Bears team who really had nothing to play for, Rodgers only put up a whopping 10 points.
My confidence in him is not extraordinarily high. I know what Dick Lebeau can do with 2 weeks of preparation. I know that the Steelers defense is talented enough to stop anybody who gets in their way, and the playoffs are where this team shines.
But my gut feeling on this game is that it will not be Pittsburgh who determines who wins. Rather, it will be Green Bay who heavily influences the outcome of this game. Green Bay has all the tools. Talent wise, they are probably better than Pittsburgh all around. But Rodgers has shown a tendency to freeze up when the spotlight is on, making this game nearly impossible to pick.
While the gist of the article may have seemed pro-Green Bay, you may be surprised with the direction of my pick. While my heart loves cheese, my head is a hard-nosed steelworker. I trust Roethsliberger, I think their defense can successfully turn the Packers into a one dimensional passing attack. We all know one dimensional won’t win you games in real life, no matter how hard Madden’s video game predictions may tell you otherwise. Pittsburgh wins this in a close one.
Filed under: NFL | Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Football, Green Bay, NFL, Packers, Sports, Super Bowl
He’s quickly becoming the new “Quarterback Poster Boy.”
As Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Drew Brees watch from the sidelines, Aaron Rodgers remains standing. Brady and Manning could very easily have already reached the pinnacle of their careers, suffering early departures from an abnormally wide open playoff hunt. Nearing their mid 30′s, it’s becoming a realization that their run can only endure so many seasons. While Rivers has yet to leave his mark on the playoffs, the only other QB worth mentioning, Ben Roethlisberger, has struggled all season to rebuild his permeated image. Brees and Rodgers could be the “next wave” of prolific passers who don shiny Super Bowl rings.
But is Aaron Rodgers for real? Has he withered enough storms to tackle the all-mighty Vince Lombardi trophy, a trophy which looms over him every day of the week at Lambeau?
Their is two schools of thought on Rodgers. There’s the class of “He doesn’t have the experience or the track record in big games to truly be elite.” There’s also the, “Rodgers’ gaudy statistical performance’s have elevated him to that level, and this is his year” legion of followers.
The easy answer would presumably sound something like, “well he’s made it to the Super Bowl, surely he can win in the playoffs right? Well, yes. But has he done it convincingly? That’s where the juicy, tender nucleus of this debate reveals itself.
I won’t even touch the Divisional round against Atlanta. The Packers thoroughly dominated on all sides of the ball. Backtrack to Wild Card weekend and the tune changes its pitch. The Packers totaled 14 points in the first half, a mere 7 in the second half. More importantly, they scored on 2 of their 3 drives in the first half, but fumbled on their first second half possession. They didn’t manage a single point when they needed to put the game away in the 4th quarter.
Outside of their sole scoring drive, which was due mostly to the breakout attack of James Starks, Rodgers amassed a whopping 1 first down in the second half through the air. He also committed one turnover. How’s that for a trade-off?
This past weekend, Rodgers’ Green Bay offense took an eerily similar approach. Their drive summary in the second half? Riddled with punts and a costly interception. Rodgers put up 14 points in 16 minutes. The next 44 minutes?
A big fat goose egg.
After the aforementioned interception thrown to Brian Urlacher, Rodgers made little to no noise the rest of the ballgame. As Chicago served up opportunities the size of beach balls, Rodgers declined, waiting for the perfect pitch that was never thrown.
Sure, the Packers won both games. This isn’t trying to take away from what the Packers did as a team or what Aaron Rodgers was able to do early in ballgames. Simply put, I question if Rodgers has what it takes to lead his team to victory on football’s greatest stage. While it’s not an individual sport, Rodgers ability to dismantle a stingy Pittsburgh defense will hold Green Bay’s collective fate.
While I think Rodgers is a good QB, perhaps even great, I’m not sold on him in the playoffs. He’s 0-5 in his career in overtime games. If Rodgers can’t finish against the Bears or Eagles, why should I blindly put faith in him to carry Green Bay down the stretch against one of the top defenses in the league?
There’s no one who believes Rodgers lacks the talent to do it. But will he?
While statistics are nice, it’s easy to overlook the struggles Rodgers has had putting meaningful games away the entire season. He relied on his defense to stop 3rd string Caleb Hanie this past Sunday, masking his downright putrid second half performance.
Aaron Rodgers is undoubtedly the future, but maybe I’m just not sold on the future just yet.
- Mark Chiarelli