A Lombardi for Titletown
Take that Favre! Aaron Rodgers goes Texas big, winning MVP, matching No. 4 inSuper Bowl titles
How do you think Brett Favre's feeling about now?
Aaron Rodgers, the man who fought off Favre's repeated comeback attempts to hold onto the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback job a few years ago, wasn't about to let the Pittsburgh Steelers yank away his Super Bowl dream. If there's anything this 27-year-old quarterback knows how to do, it's to hold onto something dear.
So Rodgers went MVP, threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns, did just enough to turn back the Steelers and an uncharacteristically shaken Ben Roethlisberger 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV.
A week in which just about everything went wrong for Dallas ... er, North Texas ... and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, closed with everything ending right for a man who's used to being a quarterback in waiting. Now, Rodgers has already matched the legendary Favre in Super Bowl wins (one) in only his third season as the full-time starter. He also has the big-game MVP Trophy that Favre never won.
"It's a great day to be great," Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings said afterwards.
Rodgers certainly was that, recording a 111.5 quarterback rating on a day when Roethlisberger would throw two interceptions, as the Packers became the first NFC No. 6 (last playoff) seed to ever win the championship. Green Bay closed its season with six straight wins, including four straight road victories in the playoffs.
When it was over, Rodgers wanted to talk about his teammates fight through adversity (Green Bay winning despite losing its defensive leader Charles Woodson and the longest-tenured Packer, Houston's Donald Driver, to injury in the first half) rather than his own. Well, first he wanted to talk about his last drive and lament that it ended in a field goal rather than a touchdown.
That's Rodgers. That is what's on his mind after winning the Super Bowl. That's probably why he's a champion at age 27, three years younger than Peyton Manning was able to win his only Super Bowl at age 30, four years earlier than Drew Brees was able to capture a title and 42 days before Favre won his one and only crown.
Not that Rodgers wanted to talked about any of that.
"This is a great group of men that was put together here," Rodgers said. "It's just great to be able to share it with them."
Not that it was easy.
The Steelers trailed 21-3 and 28-17, but they kept coming at the Packers, desperately trying to mount the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. When Roethlisberger hit speedster Mike Wallace in stride for a 25-yard touchdown pass and Pittsburgh followed that up with an intricate fake-and-pitch for the two-point conversion, it looked like Steel City could be partying after all.
The Packers' lead was down to 28-25. Rodgers and company had scored only seven points in the second half. Even Rodgers' favorite targets in the game — Jordy Nelson (nine catches for 140 yards), Jennings (four catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns) and James Jones (five catches for 50 yards) — were suffering from a case of the drops. Momentum was long gone, replaced by worry.
Rodgers shrugged — and completed a 31-yard dart to Jennings on third down on the very next possession. The Packers would drive 70 yards, chew up plenty of clock and add a field goal for a 31-25 advantage.
Roethlisberger had one more chance, ball in his hands, two minutes left, a third Super Bowl win within reach. But, Roethlisberger never truly gained his footing against Dom Capers' defense and this drive would be no exception. When a pass for Wallace on fourth down went incomplete, it was time for Cheeseheads to go berserk.
"It's disappointing," Steelers receiver Hines Ward said. "I just had that feeling we were going to do again." This was someone else's wild night.
Packers coach Mike McCarty was doused in Gatorade, Woodson (who couldn't play at all in the second half) jumped as high as he could and Rodgers went into a pile of teammates.
Soon, Cowboys great Roger Staubach was handing off the Lombardi Trophy to the Packers, one of Dallas' oldest rivals, in Jerry Jones' space-age homage to all things blue starred.
"It's named the Lombardi Trophy for a reason," Rodgers said. "I can't wait to go home and see those fans and bring home a Lombardi Trophy."