Aaron Rodgers gives the Packers an edge
By Drew Olson, ESPN Wisconsin
~When the Minnesota Vikings team bus pulled out of Lambeau Field after a regular-season loss on Dec. 2, I remember thinking, “The only reason the Packers won that game is because Aaron Rodgers is light years better than Christian Ponder.”
Gee — that’s really profound, Drew. What are you going to tell us next, that pretzels make a terrific side dish when served with beer?
The Vikings had a strong, experienced defensive line, solid special teams units and a superhuman running back named Adrian Peterson, but Rodgers was the difference that day for the Packers, just like every other day that he buckles his chinstrap.
Ponder threw two pivotal interceptions during that Week 13 loss. On Saturday night, in the hours before NFC Wildcard Playoff Game, the Florida State product — battling what later was revealed to be a badly bruised triceps muscle on his throwing arm — attempted roughly 10 passes, none of which traveled more than about 15 yards.
Ponder was ruled inactive. His replacement — Joe Webb — was ineffective. Rodgers was, well, Rodgers. The Packers won the game, 24-10, and when the Vikings’ bus rumbled toward Austin Straubel International Airport, my thoughts again turned to Jason Wilde’s radio co-star.
You’re really on a roll now, donkey. Is this where you tell us that Rodgers is better than Joe “Don’t Call Me George” Webb?
This is where I make an even more bold prediction. Are you ready? Are you sure? Shouldn’t we have a drumroll or something? Here it comes:
Aaron Rodgers is going to lead the Packers to Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3 in New Orleans.
Yep. I said it.
I know some Packers fans will be angry with that prediction and the possibility of a “jinx.” I also know that the San Francisco 49ers, who await the Packers in the Divisional Playoff Game next Saturday night in California, are tough. They pounded Green Bay in the season opener. They are rested. They’re playing at home. They’re hungry after missing the Super Bowl by a game last year.
But, they don’t have Aaron Rodgers.
Neither do Atlanta, Seattle or Washington.
In the final three games of the regular season, Rodgers completed 78 of 114 passes for 998 yards, 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Sure, one of the games was against Tennessee, which was awful. The other two were at Chicago and at Minnesota.
On Saturday night, Rodgers completed 23 of 33 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown. He spread the ball to 10 different receivers and his passer rating was 104.9. He wasn’t superhuman. He didn’t sizzle all the time. But, he sizzled enough. When he executed that 2-minute drill at the end of the first half, punctuating it with an incredible rollout thrown to Jordy Nelson — the Vikings might as well have had 18 men on the field; they’d still have been helpless.
Next Saturday, Rodgers will be in his home state — playing against the team he cheered as a child. The obvious Alex Smith / draft angle will be replaced with stories of Colin Kaepernick’s Wisconsin roots. The 49ers, regarded by many as the team to beat for much of the season, will likely be favored to win.
But, that seems silly… they don’t have Rodgers.
Look at the quarterbacks in the last five Super Bowl matchups. Working backward, you had Eli Manning vs. Tom Brady, Rodgers vs. Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees vs. Peyton Manning, Roethlisberger vs. Peyton Manning and Eli Manning vs. Brady, Version 1.
You don’t seen any half-season starters on that list, do you?
Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, who battle in the other NFC game on Sunday, are fantastic talents with great stories. But, they are playoff newbies at a position that has more sway over postseason results than any other.
Rodgers knows how precarious the playoffs can be; he knows that one mistake can end a season and squash a dream. He knows the Packers got a huge break when Ponder was unable to play on Sunday and that they still have plenty of work to do in order to survive Saturday in San Francisco and then in the NFC Championship Game, wherever that may take place.
Can you think of anyone else you’d rather have under center?
Original story here