ARLINGTON, Texas - Absolutely no need to bring up Ol' What's His Name ever again. Aaron Rodgers is a Super Bowl championship quarterback in his own right.
And the game’s MVP, too, an honor Brett Favre, his Green Bay Packers predecessor, never earned.
With precise passes and coolness under pressure, Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions Sunday night to lead the Packers to a 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers for Green Bay’s first NFL title since Favre’s in the January 1997 Super Bowl.
Rodgers is 27 years old, just as Favre was then. And after biding his time as a backup until the Packers split with Favre, Rodgers has quickly established himself as one of the game’s best. This was his third full season as a starter, and he was particularly good throughout the playoffs, leading the No. 6 seed Packers to three NFC road victories before winning the championship Sunday.
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Despite his smart play, his zero-turnover performance, his scoring drives and his MVP award, Rodgers sought to deflect the praise.
“Got to give credit to our defense. This is a great group of men that we put together here; a lot of character, been through a lot together,” said Rodgers, who threw two TD passes to Greg Jennings and one to Jordy Nelson. “It’s just great to be able to share it with them.”
Don’t forget, Rodgers’ strong performance came against Pittsburgh’s vaunted defense, the one that limited opponents to a league-low 14.5 points a game this season and features NFL Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison.
“He is the reason they won,” Steelers defensive lineman Brett Keisel said of Rodgers.
Added Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin: “He showed his mettle and continued to stand in there and throw the football accurately.”
That’s not all Rodgers did. He changed plays at the line of scrimmage, reading the defense before the snap and adjusting. He overcame a poor start and a third-quarter lapse. And he did it all without the benefit of any help from a Packers running game that was limited to 50 yards.
“We put everything on his shoulders,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He did a lot at the line of scrimmage for us against a great defense.”
Rodgers was hardly perfect all game. But perhaps he could be forgiven if he was experiencing some jitters: After all, the guy only played in one playoff game in his career before this season.
Against Pittsburgh, Green Bay’s second drive began with Rodgers overthrowing Jennings. And then? Rodgers couldn’t miss. He went 5 for 5 for 63 yards, finishing the possession with a 29-yard scoring toss to Nelson.
After the score, Rodgers simply raised both arms in the familiar “Touchdown!” signal, then briefly embraced guard Daryn Colledge. Rodgers is a generally laid-back guy, and he does not engage in any of that wild running around and helmet-slapping Favre was so famous for when he was the player Cheeseheads loved the most.
Late Sunday, it was clear who’s got their hearts now: Packers fans filled Cowboys Stadium with choruses of “Aa-ron Rodg-ers!” and “M-V-P!”