Which is the easier decision: Naming Tom Brady 2010 NFL regular season MVP or naming Aaron Rodgers 2011 NFL Playoffs MVP? Michael Vick was a viable option for regular season MVP until about the final month of the regular season, but turnovers and overall unimpressive play when compared with Brady’s performances prevented him from being all that close by the end of the season. Rodgers, meanwhile, has been in a class all his own over the past month.
Super Bowl XLV was, as many expected, the night when Rodgers officially emerged from the shadows of the greatest quarterback in the history of the Green Bay Packers. With Hollywood Brett seemingly gone for good and Rodgers earning a championship ring to match his sweet belts, the comparisons can finally stop and we can now just sit back, relax and watch the best quarterback in the NFC create his own legacy.
Rodgers was superb during the final game of the 2010-11 NFL season. He threw all over the Steelers while on football’s grandest stage, finishing with 304 yards, three touchdowns and a QB rating of 111.5. Even more remarkable is the fact that his wide receivers dropped at least five balls during the game, two of which probably should have resulted in touchdowns. He made the Pittsburgh secondary, including Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu, look silly throughout the contest. Polamalu was schooled on two Aaron Rodgers touchdown passes, the last being the score that decided the game.
Of all of the quarterbacks that started more than one game during the 2011 NFL Playoffs, Rodgers emerged as the leader in completion percentage, yards per game, touchdowns and quarterback rating. Against the Steelers, Green Bay attempted only eleven meaningful rushing plays. Pittsburgh knew it was going to be the Aaron Rodgers show all night early on. It didn’t really matter.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall was a 2011 NFL Playoffs MVP candidate until he coughed the ball up in the fourth quarter. His fumble, which happened just when it appeared the Steelers were going to take their first lead of the game, will now forever go down as the game changing play of Super Bowl XLV. A spring and summer full of “what ifs?” for Mendenhall and the Steelers awaits.
In the end, the day and the entire postseason belonged to Aaron Rodgers. For weeks, I’ve written that winning both this game and the Super Bowl MVP award was his destiny. Now that destiny has been fulfilled, one can’t help but wonder if Rodgers and the Packers are the NFL’s next dynasty.