Green Bay's Gem: How Far Can Super Bowl XLV MVP Aaron Rodgers Take the Packers?
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After Sunday's legendary 31-25 victory over the AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers in Dallas, Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have a lot of celebrating to do. Yet in the zealous excitement and euphoria of Wisconsin's first Super Bowl Title since 1997, one question will begin to seep into the discussion amongst Green Bay's fans.
How many more titles can they win?
More directly, how far can the six-year pro out of California take the NFL's only publicly owned franchise in the future? After Green Bay's mauling of Atlanta in the NFC Divisional Round three weeks ago, casual fans of the sport have begun pondering the ramifications of a Green Bay victory in Dallas.
For many, the thought of Green Bay being led by a quarterback that was better than Brett Favre was unimaginable just a few short months ago. With so much promise heading into the season, all the injuries seemed to doom Green Bay and quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a long, drawn-out series of criticisms and questions over whether #12 could ever replace #4 in Wisconsin's rich football tradition.
In his first Super Bowl appearance, Rodgers not only equaled Favre's total number of Super Bowl wins with the Packers, but he also accomplished something that Favre never could: win the Most Valuable Player award in the big game.
At first glance, Favre's numbers from Green Bay's previous title victory at Super Bowl XXXI in 1997 look fairly similar to Rodgers from Super Bowl XLV. Favre in 1997 threw for 246 yards, with 14 completions off of 27 attempts, two passing touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown off of four carries, gaining an additional twelve yards to bring his total yards to 258.
Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, completed 24 passes off 39 attempts, wracking up 304 yards through the air and collecting three touchdowns. Two of Aaron's touchdown strikes were over 20+ yards (a first quarter strike from 29 yards to Jordy Nelson and a second quarter hook-up with Greg Jennings from 21 yards out).
Another similarity to consider: both Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre won their first championships with Green Bay in the sixth year of their pro career.
Yet even with the similarities to Green Bay's previous championship, the Rodgers-led Packers have a certain intangibility to their team: it's resiliency. Despite losing so many players to the Injured Reserve list early in the year, Green Bay's heart was evident after persevering through devastating first half injuries to Charles Woodson and Donald Driver.
After Sunday's performance, a lot of the attention will fall on Aaron Rodgers as the fans brace for a potential protracted lockout. With the possibility of no football looming next fall, we'll all have plenty of time to ponder the future of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Even after several crucial deep strikes, and 300+ yards of offense through the air, Green Bay's quarterback put off the perception of having flown a bit under the radar.
Are we witnessing the birth of a potential dynasty in Green Bay?
And that's one of the lasting legacies that Super Bowl XLV may give us heading into a potential lockout. Despite putting up brilliant numbers and securing the MVP Award, Rodgers was almost underwhelming, if that's even possible. Everything felt so pedestrian to him—hard to imagine from a quarterback in his very first Super Bowl.
Then again, maybe we should have expected the poise from a true pocket passer like Rodgers, who has become a proverbial surgeon on game day, slicing even the most vaunted of defenses into silly putty with his long strikes and deadly accuracy.
Yet the question still remains: how much farther can he go? There were almost half a dozen dropped passes over fifteen yards that could have, and in many cases should have been caught. Without the sloppy play of his receivers, 400 yards may have realistically been in play.
Regardless, Green Bay fans will take what they got: a solid, turnover-free performance from a stud quarterback who hasn't reached his athletic prime yet. For tonight, fans of the Packers are content to revel in the madness of a Super Bowl championship.
Tomorrow, we wonder just how great Aaron Rodgers is about to become.
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