Aaron Rodgers: Is this his last chance at a Super Bowl win with Green Bay Packers?
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By James Simpson - @JS_Football
Last Updated: 12/01/20 5:33pm
It has been almost a decade since Aaron Rodgers won his first and only Super Bowl. Will the future Hall of Famer add another?
Tom Brady and Drew Brees were bounced from the postseason last weekend. The latest generation of star quarterbacks has arrived in the NFL with Lamar Jackson (23 years old), Patrick Mahomes (24) and Deshaun Watson (24) taking the league by storm.
Meanwhile Rodgers has seen it all - and done it all.
He has been voted to the Pro Bowl eight times, is a two-time NFL MVP, and has been to one Super Bowl - a 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in February 2011 (SB XLV). He also holds the highest passer rating in the history of the National Football League at 102.4.
But it's that elusive second Lombardi Trophy that has Rodgers consumed.
"It's on my mind every day," Rodgers said this week. "That's why we play the game. That's why you put in the time in the offseason. That's why you do the little things. It's to put yourself in this position where we're two games away from being able to compete for that.
Green Bay Packers' seasons since 2010
|2010||10-6||Yes||Won Super Bowl XLV (vs. Steelers) 31–25|
|2011||15-1||Yes||Lost Divisional Playoffs (Giants) 37–20|
|2012||11-5||Yes||Lost Divisional Playoffs (at 49ers) 45–31|
|2013||8-7-1||Yes||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (49ers) 23–20|
|2014||12-4||Yes||Lost Conference Championship (at Seahawks) 28–22 (OT)|
|2015||10-6||Yes||Lost Divisional Playoffs (at Cardinals) 26–20 (OT)|
|2016||10-6||Yes||Lost Conference Championship (at Falcons) 44–21|
"I'm 36, I know what this is all about. This is an important opportunity for us. I feel like I got a lot of really good years left, but you never know. A lot of things happen year to year. We've had some great teams that have been an injury away or a play away from being special, so I want to make the most of this opportunity."
It's true that 36 may not be that 'old' in quarterback terms these days - but Brady (42) and Brees (40) seem like exceptions to the rule. Rodgers is too, but statistically at least, he is not playing at the same level as he was in his younger, more successful years.
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The last two seasons have resulted in Rodgers' lowest touchdown totals (in seasons where he has played 15+ games) in his entire career - 25 last season and 26 this time around. After seven out of eight seasons with a passer rating of over 100, the last three have been below (97.2, 97.6 and 95.4).
Maybe it's his age. Perhaps it's the fact last season the Packers were so bad they fired their head coach and this season Rodgers is learning life under a new one. It could be Green Bay's new focus on the running game (Aaron Jones has vultured 16 touchdowns from Rodgers this season).
But now, in crunch time, the Packers need some vintage Rodgers magic. He knows he may not get many more opportunities.
"I'm at the age now, I believe, that Brett [Favre] was when I was drafted, and obviously closer to the finish than the beginning," he said.
"The most important thing is winning, and I know how difficult a couple of those years were when we weren't winning."
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Fresh off the back of victory over the New England Patriots, the Tennessee Titans are now gearing up to stop a frightening Baltimore Ravens team.
It's been three years since Rodgers last tasted playoff football - when his Packers received a 44-21 drubbing from the Atlanta Falcons in the Conference Championship game - but this time Green Bay are at home after finishing with the best record since 2007 (13-3) and seemingly in great shape to keep their season alive.
"I feel great," Rodgers said. "I started all 16 [games] and wasn't in the training room a whole lot. I had some issues early in the season with my knee. But, man, I felt great from about Week Eight on.
"It feels good to be where I'm at right now."
Brady has six Super Bowl rings, but for everyone else, getting more than one is unique. Brees only has one. Wilson too. Some of the game's current greats - Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan - and rising stars - Mahomes, Jackson and Watson - haven't got off the mark yet.
Rodgers would be joining a rare group if he can lead his team to glory this year. But if he doesn't, will he ever get another chance?
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Seahawks present huge hurdle
However good Rodgers feels and however well the Packers have performed all season, they are coming up against a seasoned Seattle team with plenty of playoff experience. With Pete Carroll in charge and Russell Wilson under center, the Seahawks have made the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons.
Wilson looks to be at the peak of his powers, having thrown 66 touchdowns to 12 picks over the past two seasons, with a passer rating of 108.4. Last week in Philadelphia, he took the game over with clutch play after clutch play, making himself almost impossible to stop on third down. He threw for 325 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 45 more.
A huge factor in Wilson's success last weekend was the performance of rookie receiver DK Metcalf. With a severely depleted backfield, Seattle need their outside targets to step up, and the second-round pick did so in a major way.
Metcalf set an NFL rookie playoff record with 160 receiving yards as part of a seven-catch day in which he burned Eagles defenders in every which way. To clinch the road victory, the 6-foot-4, 229-pounder came down with a leaping 36-yard grab on third and 10 just after the two-minute warning where he used his body in a way that was impossible to defend.
After receiving praise from Carroll and Wilson, Metcalf said: "Just seeing that they trust in me, two of the highest people on the team trust in me to get things done.
"I just got to take that and continue working and show them why they trust me so much."
What can we expect for an encore from the 22-year-old?
Will home experience matter?
Historically in this fixture, the home team has come out on top. Rodgers and Wilson have faced off seven times, with Green Bay winning all three at Lambeau Field.
In those Wisconsin-based games, Wilson has completed just 57.3 per cent of his passes, and thrown three touchdowns compared to six interceptions.
Additionally, the Seahawks have lost eight straight games at Lambeau. To finally end the streak will be a tough ask.
The past won't deter this Seattle team, however, as they have thrived away from home this season. They are 8-1 on the road, including that win in Philadelphia last week.
Who will come out on top this time? After 60 minutes (and maybe overtime), one of these teams will be one win away from Miami.