The greatest day on the American calendar is just days away; that’s right, the Super Bowl. No matter who your team is, there is no denying that this year’s matchup looks great on paper; two of the most storied franchises in NFL history, two of the league’s top defenses, two of the league’s best defensive players (and hair models) in Polamalu and Mathews, and a heavyweight QB match-up between the controversial 2-time SB champion Ben Roethlisberger and up and coming sensation Aaron Rodgers.
One of the worst things about the Super Bowl is that between the conference championships and the big game, there is two weeks of absolutely nothing (No, I didn’t forget about the Pro Bowl…its just so bad that it shouldn’t be mentioned), meaning that us sports heads get a heavy dose of little news and all opinion. Nothing shows this phenomenon more than the talk surrounding Mr. Rodgers. In the last two weeks, I’ve heard prominent media personalities bash him in spite of his RIDICULOUS numbers in the last few months (in the playoffs, AR is completing just over 71% of his passes and has a 109 QB rating). I’ve also heard loads of people who are caught in the moment, and have deemed him the best QB in the league. Wow…Everyone needs to take a step back.
If you don’t know the story of Aaron Rodgers, here’s a quick recap: After a great career at Cal, he was drafted by the Packers late in the first round of the 2005 draft after some experts had picked him to go much higher. (He was also picked well after #1 overall pick Alex Smith). For the first few years of his career, he was caught in the epic here-again-gone-again melodrama that was the last few years of Brett Favre’s stay in GB, so he saw limited playing time in his first few years. However, it was the Packer organization’s faith in AR that allowed them to part ways with Favre earlier than some people thought. Throughout it all, Rodgers handled the situation with true class, which made him a media darling and fan favorite, even after Favre left town. 2008 was his first year as the main man in GB, and 3 years later, he has his Packers in the Super Bowl, and is the hottest QB in this year’s playoffs.
In the middle of the plethora of opinions on Aaron Rodgers over the last few weeks, there was one I saw today that was well thought out, and although it gives him the props he deserves for a stellar 3 years so far and some great performances, it cautions us all to step back and take things into perspective. My boy Ramon Ramirez, a writer for the Washington City Paper (you may have heard about them recently, as Redskins owner Dan Snyder is suing them because he has a vagina) and graduate of UT Austin has broken down Aaron Rodgers by the numbers. The conclusion: Aaron Rodgers is a front-runner, and doesn’t get it done when the game is on the line. This is a big deal, given that I think its fair to assume that the SB will indeed be a close game. Big Ben has proven time and time again that he can win it in the fourth quarter. Has Aaron Rodgers proved this? Check out Aaron Rodgers: A History below from my boy Ramon. (You can follow him on twitter @athousandgrams)
It’s been a rough football season but at least we’re all animated for a thrilling Super Bowl. Surprisingly, the Green Bay Packers are three-point favorites over the Pittsburgh Steelers despite the Vegas sharps overwhelmingly putting dough on a low-scoring, Steelers win.
I’ve been critical about Aaron Rodgers as a clutch performer and leader. He’s always been a front-runner guy to me: a statuesque specimen that can pile points on an over-matched secondary and demand high fantasy football draft picks. He’s an ace.
But, he also boasts ZERO fourth quarter comeback wins (Tony Romo has NINE fourth-quarter comebacks and 10 game-wnning drives). (Editors Note: No love for the Cowboys over here…GO GIANTS!!!) In three years as a starter, he hasn’t had one meaningful, memorable moment where he takes over late and delivers heroics.
Make no mistake, Green Bay’s playmaking, scoring defense got the Pack to Arlington, but I just don’t see them having enough to outwit Pittsburgh’s equally gruff defense and Big Ben’s historically clutch nature. The only thing that can win this game for the Packers is karma. Big Ben is a well-documented jerk, maybe he throws to Clay Matthews late. Maybe Pittsburgh’s offensive line issues finally catch up to them. Maybe Rodgers the frontrunner gets his soaring team on Cowboys Stadium’s artificial turf and they take an early lead.
But one thing that won’t happen is Rodgers winning this thing late. Just look at Aaron Rodgers’ resume.
First, a look at his close wins:
24-19 over Minnesota (Tarvaris Jackson intercepted as game ends, after Pack go three and out with 2:43 left in game, no Rodgers fourth quarter scores)
21-15 over Chicago (Cutler throws four interceptions)
30-24 over San Francisco (Two late TDs by 49ers make the score close)
21-14 over Chi (Pack get go-ahead winning touchdown (Ryan Grant run) with 12:42 left in game. Pack D picks off Cutler twice)
27-20 over Philly (10 fourth quarter Eagles points make score close, no Rodgers touchdowns in fourth quarter)
28-26 over Detroit (No Rodgers second half scores, Green Bay scores on a defensive touchdown, four straight Jason Hanson field goals end the game and account for close score)
28-24 over Minnesota (No Rodgers fourth quarter scores, last Green Bay score a defensive touchdown, Brett Favre spends all of fourth quarter heaving passes (including a TD to Moss) because Rodgers can’t keep offense on the field)
9-0 over Jets (No Rodgers points, Green Bay defense plays incredible ball and shuts out Jets)
10-3 over Bears (Hope! Though not a comeback, Rodgers throws a fourth quarter touchdown over a team that had already clinched division/bye to make playoffs)
21-16 over Philly (Playoffs) (No fourth quarter points, Vick provides game’s last touchdown but also its last interception)
21-14 over Bears (Playoffs) (No second half points, Rodgers can’t keep offense on field, CALEB HANIE almost becomes an instant legend playing clean up after Jay Cutler’s injury but, again, Pack D scores late, go ahead touchdown)
Not exactly the stuff of legend. Even more troubling, look at the huge amount of close losses for Aaron Rodgers:
27-16 loss to Dallas
21-30 loss to Tampa
27-24 loss to Atlanta
19-16 loss to Tennessee
28-27 loss to Minnesota
35-31 loss to Panthers
24-21 loss to Texans
20-16 loss to Jaguars
20-17 loss to Bears
31-24 loss to Bengals
30-23 loss to Vikings
38-26 loss to Vikings
38-28 loss to Tampa
37-36 loss to Steelers
51-45 OT loss to Cards in playoffs
20-17 loss to Chicago
16-13 loss to Redskins
23-20 loss to Dolphins
20-17 loss to Falcons
7-3 loss to Lions (Rodgers knocked out of game)
With history in mind, Sunday feels like a textbook afternoon during which to be mindful of the perils of conventional wisdom: the Packers are hot, it’s a dome, you can throw on Pittsburgh, etc.
Give me a Steelers win, 24-14, and Big Ben as the game’s MVP. Karma be damned.
Interesting stuff. So, who y’all got for the big game?
–MichaelYoungHistory & Ramon Ramirez