GREEN BAGS, Wise Guy. — For all that Aaron Rodgers has done in his Hall of Fame career, there is one thing he has never done: play in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field.
Come back next Sunday so he can cross it off his list. Rodgers and the top-seeded Green Bay Packers (14-3) will take on the New Orleans Saints or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a spot in the Super Bowl.
And the Pack will do so on their own turf, thanks to their victory on Saturday over the Los Angeles Rams in Lambeau, where fans – numbered 8,456 – were able to watch their first game of the season.
When we came out of the tunnel, there seemed to be 50,000 of them, Rogers said. It was such a special moment. I forgot how much you miss the crowd. … It felt like 50,000, 60,000…
Rodgers will make his fifth appearance in the conference this Sunday. His previous four have all gone on the road. He won his first victory – during the 2010 season at Soldier Field – en route to his only Super Bowl. Since then, he has lost three times, including last season’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
It was after last season’s defeat that Rodgers repeated a familiar refrain and said we should have one at home.
According to a study by the Elias Sports Bureau, Rodgers’ 190 regular season debut is the most of any quarterback when he starts his first conference championship at home. This distinction has already been made by Fran Tarkenton (187).
It means a lot, Rogers says. Jordy and I talked about this years ago. I’ve had a lot of starts in this league, but I didn’t make the NFC Championship.
Let’s hope today is a little colder than it was then. … It will be interesting to enjoy tonight, party, and then watch the game tomorrow and know the winner is coming home.
Rodgers provided that against the Rams (11-7), who scored the most points on defense in the NFL regular season (18.1 points per game). The Packers took a 19-10 lead into the first period at halftime. They were the first team this season to score each of the first three points against the Rams. It was also the fourth straight game in which the Packers scored the most offensive points on each of their first three shots.
Rodgers threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams, who captured the Jalen Ramsey corner in a lively exchange with quarterback Nick Scott after the game. Rodgers also ran for a touchdown in the first half and threw a touchdown pass and a touchdown pass in the same playoff game for the third time in his career. But it was his first postseason running score since the 2010 NFC title game in Chicago.
That was just the beginning.
When Aaron Jones broke his 1-yard run for a touchdown on a 60-yard run on the first play of the third quarter, the Packers scored each of the game’s top five touchdowns for the first time since the third week of the 2016 season.
It was the 22nd. This is the first time in NFL playoff history that the number one scorer and the number one defensive player have faced each other. According to ESPN’s stats and data research, the Packers’ 32 points rank fourth in these comparisons.
The Packers’ 484 yards, the second-longest in postseason history, were the most traveled by a team in the playoffs against the league’s first defense since 1970, according to a study by the Elias Sports Bureau.
As you can see, they’re a great team when they come to Lambo – as I’ve said a million times – when you come to Lambo, you play a different kind of football, Adams said. It takes you out of your element, the way you talk, the way you play. You’re scared. It’s harder to communicate. We had fans today, they tore it up. Everything was on our side, so it was just a matter of playing Packers football. We will, and no one can stop us.
Rodgers knelt late in the middle of the MVP singing to the crowd.
He completed 23 of 36 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns. His 58-yard run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter was the longest pass of his postseason career.
Rodgers enjoyed the best performance – 189 yards – his team has ever given him in a playoff game. The previous record was 147 yards in the 2011 divisional playoffs against the New York Giants. But it was a loss in the one period when the Packers were No. 1 under Rodgers.
In that game, he was denied the NFC Championship title at home.
Ten years later, Rogers’ existence cannot be denied.