On a blatantly injured calf, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers still managed to finish the game with a 125.4 passer rating.
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The difference between the Green Bay Packers in the first half and the Green Bay Packers in the second half was night-and-day. The night came when Aaron Rodgers was limping on the field, unable to move in the pocket or complete passes downfield. The day came when he shook off the injury and completed his final 9 passes in a row to seal Green Bay’s 26-21 win over the Dallas Cowboys and bring them one-game away from the Superbowl.
Rodgers finished that game 24 of 35 for 315 yards and 3 TDs – all of this came while battling a calf injury he suffered last month against the Detroit Lions – showing off his incredible grit and never-quit attitude. Forget for a minute the impact Houston Texans DE J. J. Watt had for his team – Rodgers’ performance was clearly one of the best by any player in any game all season.
With some of the best numbers of the 2014 NFL season and the only QB this season to win every single home game this season, Rodgers is the clear choice for NFL MVP – and the voters will agree with that sentiment before the Superbowl, regardless of the outcome of the NFC Championship game.
Here are the five biggest winners from the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs:
Andrew Luck – Luck has now officially supplanted Peyton Manning as a top QB in the NFL. He beat his predecessor on the road and has the Colts back in the AFC Championship game for the first time since the 2009 season. Luck is the fastest rising star in the NFL and if he makes it to the Superbowl, he’ll have done it in half the time it took for Manning to get there in Indianapolis.
Kam Chancellor – For all the praise that Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner get, perhaps the biggest key to the Seahawks defense all season has been Safety Kam Chancellor. There may not be a better pure athlete at the safety position than Chancellor – with his ball-hawking ability, bone-crunching hits and ability to jump over the offensive line to block FG attempts, he may be the best defender in the NFL not named J. J. Watt.
Tom Brady – When you have a franchise QB, no lead and no number of leads is ever safe, and Tom Brady proved that this weekend by becoming the first QB in NFL history to overcome two 14-point deficits in the playoff game, adding to the already stellar resume of clutch performances and epic comebacks. Among NFL players today there may not be a more trustworthy QB when the chips are down than Tom Brady.
Aaron Rodgers – Although the Cowboys may have been robbed of a TD on that Dez Bryant non-catch, it can easily be argued that with more than 3 minutes remaining in the game Rodgers could have marched the team down the field and scored a TD, or at the very least a FG. After all, Rodgers didn’t have an incompletion in the fourth quarter.
Julian Edelman – When his career is over he may go down as the most versatile offensive weapon in Patriots history. He can return punts better than 90% of the league, he can catch, he can run, and he can throw. Edelman has quietly been one of the keys to the Patriots’ offensive success and deserves more recognition for his efforts – perhaps in the form of a larger contract with the team.