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 cool 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 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 taken over. This was his third full season as a starting QB, and he was particularly good throughout the playoffs, leading the No. 6 seed Packers to a championship.
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“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.”
Rodgers began the game by overthrowing receivers and generally being off-kilter, completing only one of his first five passes. Then he righted himself and showed precisely why the Packers drafted Rodgers in the first round in 2005 and set upon on a course to let Favre leave so they could count on the kid.
Green Bay’s second drive began with Rodgers overthrowing Jennings. And then? Rodgers couldn’t miss. He went 5 for 5 for 63 yards the rest of that possession, finishing it with a 29-yard touchdown toss to Nelson with a little more than 3½ minutes left in the first quarter.
Rodgers’ perfect pass to Nelson made it 7-0. Then, suddenly, the Packers were ahead 14-0 all of 24 seconds later, when Nick Collins returned an interception of Ben Roethlisberger 37 yards for a TD.
Rodgers zipped a 21-yard pass down the middle to Jennings, just past leaping safety Ryan Clark, to put the Packers ahead 21-3 with 2½ minutes left in the first half. At that point, Rodgers was 11 for 16 for 137 yards and two TDs -- making him 10 for 11 in the stretch that followed his rough start.
In second half, Rodgers went through another rough stretch, throwing five consecutive incompletions and leaving the field quickly over and over as the Steelers kept forcing the Packers to punt
But Rodgers was back in top form when he needed to be in the fourth quarter, leading a 55-yard touchdown drive after Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall fumbled and Desmond Bishop recovered.
On second-and-goal from the 8, Rodgers spun a spiral to a wide-open Jennings in the far corner of the end zone to put the Packers ahead 28-17 with about 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
When he led Green Bay to its final points, a field goal right before the 2-minute warning, Rodgers’ work was done.
After the Packers stopped the Steelers’ last drive, all he had to was walk on the field and kneel down to run out the clock.