The scenes alone are glaring portraits of why we shouldn't dismiss the implausible Green Bay Packers, a team that emerged onto the field Sunday and played with much emotion and energy. We all know by now, no matter whether the naysayers discount or anoint the cheese-heads, that it's one of the finest franchises in the NFL not to overlook, given their mystique and prior history.
So what, if Aaron Rodgers was in a hostile territory surrounded by thousands of ecstatic Eagles' fans, cheering on the Philadelphia Eagles until the disheartening finish muted the rambunctious crowd. So what if he was on the same field with Michael Vick, arguably the best player in the league amid an unbelievable redemptive story, putting his troubling past behind him deemed as the MVP hopeful. The Packers, were more fierce and hungrier than ever before, tougher by their quarterbacks' presence and growth.
Rodgers conducted and engineered his team to an overjoyed playoff win by his positive mentality, clinching a divisional berth in the postseason, at the venue in Philly that turned into “Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood” and seemingly the Packers bloomed as the hottest contender in these playoffs.
Any notion that this is a renovation period sound irrelevant, for which Green Bay has returned to eminence. If Rodgers wishes to venture on one of his proudest journeys, if not one of the gratifying pursuits in franchise history, he obviously understood the magnitude of survival and, as a result, outlasted the likable Eagles in a crucial contest.
The visitor's locker room was relentlessly pumped, thrilled for capturing merriment as the Packers encounter the fully-rested Atlanta Falcons in the divisional rounds next weekend. It was a locker room filled of happiness, along with delighted players celebrating like kids in the eruption of endless glee, aroused by Mike McCarthy, the hard-driven coach for giving a fiery speech after an imposing 21-16 win over the Eagles. It turns out that he's not superstitious, after all, but is a likable figure and has been a very savvy coach.
Like always, as the Packers ripened into primary competition for feasibly the Lombardi Trophy in the glamorous game of roman numerals, he observed his players produce in critical situations by his routine playbook and strategic tactics, even though he has taken the share of culpability in the past.
It's not too often, particularly when the Packers are playing brilliantly, that he has an angry outburst on the sideline or behind the scenes and mellowed into a shrewd coach, capable of measuring up to standards for a traditional franchise.
It was the Packers mental toughness, resiliency and aplomb that contributed to their astonishing display, and the reliable rushing attack with the exception of rookie James Starks, not to mention Rodgers' scintillating performance.
These days, such as the inexplicable transition late in the season to qualify for the postseason in the final game of the regular-season, it seems the Packers are fundamentally sound and fearless. It's abundantly clear, by now, that the Packers can potentially be crowned Super Bowl champs in the end, surrounded by weaponry of talent and intelligence.
In the game, the Packers were wiser and a bit more talented winning in convincingly eliminating the Eagles. With less than a minute remaining in a nail-bitter, as Vick had led a remarkable drive to nearly secure the game-winner, he was picked off by Green Bay safety Tramon Williams and sadly stained a wonderful season for the Eagles.
A quarterback as dominant as Rodgers, leading the Packers with heart and vigor regardless of the hearsay about road woes, nonetheless orchestrates drives efficiently, although he suffered concussions twice this season. Without him, the Packers aren't nearly as effective or dangerous. Without him, they are vulnerable to collapse in what could be one of the most intriguing postseasons in a long time, with the improbable Seahawks in the playoff picture when Seattle unbelievably and impossibly stunned the football world in a win over the Saints. However, if he continues to play sharply, the Packers can absolutely be ebullient and relentless that no team on the universe or during the postseason for that matter would desire to face for their monstrous approach to embarrass opponents.
Basically, if the Packers perform with equilibrium and produce an over-matched running game, then Green Bay will clearly be no match, already viewed as a tough ouster after the first-round appearance probably dictated fate and progression. As far as we know, for now anyway, the Packers are tenacious and invulnerable of disappointing the cheesehead faithful with minds set on winning it all, led by an NFL icon and symbolic legend in the post-Favre era.
That is Rodgers, of course, the face of the Packers and he has proven to be the next legendary star of a franchise that has a product of notable megastars. So with evidence of acknowledging such a marvel team, which has cemented promise in a season of unpredictability and mystic, the Packers are scarier and alive to accept the challenge of unforeseen showdowns, at time when much is on the line. From here on out, all games is sudden death.
"Aaron Rodgers is as good as any out-of-the-pocket quarterback there is in football history," McCarthy said. "His ability in the pocket, trusting his footwork, the time clock, the ability to come out of the pocket to buy time, that's Aaron strength. He has the arm strength to make all the throws. He gives you a lot of versatility as a play caller and as an offensive schemer. Now with his experience, he's a special player."
It's what all of Green Bay, including the Packers know. The expectations, as usual, are immense for them as well, simply for being the symbol of NFL franchises, one of the most popular teams many people root for. As Rodgers established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league, his teammate, Starks, emerged as a rookie running back. For most of the game, he was immersed in the rushing schemes, dangerous in midfield by exploiting his speed to alleviate pressure and a dauntless task off Rodgers.
He rushed for 123 yards and had nifty footwork to take over the foot race in Philly, all when the Packers are flirting with NFC prominence and when Rodgers is absorbing the spotlight more than Chicago's Jay Cutler or Atlanta's Matt Ryan. With the defensive effort of the monstrous forces, such as Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson, the Packers blistering defense only allowed Vick to run for 33 yards and throw for 292 yards.
Throughout the season, he has played composed and with assurance to guide the Packers, handling the expectations of quartering back Green Bay in Favre's footsteps. The reality of this is that Rodgers is just as solid in the pocket, calm and firm in the pocket. Almost unnoticed during his breakout party, a cumulative measure of greatness, he danced in the pocket to buy time and quickly released completed passes with pure accuracy and awareness. Early on, he was 8 of 13 on third-down conversion plays, and the Packers overall were three for three in the red zone.
So now, it's off to the Georgia Dome, a venue where the Packers suffered a heartbreaker in a close lost back in November. By avenging the dreadful loss, he travels to Chicago for a clash against his foes, or either could play Seattle. By the end of the night, though, Rodgers was a pleased man with incredible Super Bowl goals.
The Lombardi Trophy may reside in Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood.
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