SportsPulse: Two GOATs battle in the Bayou while the Browns head to Kansas City. Lorenzo gives his two best bets for Sunday’s divisional round games.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers has done just about anything he’s wanted this season.
It should be no surprise, then, that the MVP favorite will finally get the home NFC championship game he’s always craved.
Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will host either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or New Orleans Saints next weekend, with the winner getting a trip to the Super Bowl. It’s the fifth time Rodgers, who turned 37 last month, has reached the NFC title game – and second year in a row – but the first time he’ll play it at Lambeau.
“It’s a different animal, coming to Green Bay in the wintertime,” Rodgers has said.
No wonder, then, that his fist pump was a little more emphatic, his grin a little wider after his 58-yard touchdown pass to Allen Lazard in the fourth quarter that sealed a 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams and their No. 1 defense.
At the two-minute warning, the fans allowed into Lambeau for the first time this season chanted “M-V-P! M-V-P!”
Rodgers finished with 296 yards, completing 23 of 36 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions. They added 188 rushing yards.
“Being able to play in front of them … was really special,” Rodgers said on Fox. “One more here.”
This is not, perhaps, how anyone might have seen this season unfolding in April. The Packers, criticized for not having “enough weapons,” passed on the chance to add a wide receiver or running back in the first round. Even more stunning, they drafted a quarterback, Jordan Love, despite Rodgers saying he wants to play into his 40s and hoped to do it all in Green Bay.
Now, anyone who has followed Rodgers’ career knows well he carries more grudges than Arya Stark. And while this was no different, the manifestation of it was.
The slight, coupled with the COVID-imposed pandemic, made Rodgers become more introspective, more purposeful. He returned to Green Bay determined, but with a lightness that was immediately apparent. As September turned into October, it was clear Rodgers was playing with a joy he hasn’t had in years.
It helped, of course, that his supporting cast made all those hand-wringers look foolish. Davante Adams has established himself as the NFL’s best receiver. As if anyone needed a reminder, he made “super elite” corner Jalen Ramsey look downright foolish on his one touchdown.
With Ramsey shadowing him, Adams went left, stopped and then sprinted right. Ramsey was caught flat-footed and couldn’t catch up, allowing Adams to park himself at the goal-line, no one within five yards of him.
Aaron Jones proved himself worthy of a new contract, erupting for a 60-yard run on the first play of the second half and capping the drive five plays later with a 1-yard scoring run.
The Packers scored on their first five possessions of the game, no small feat against Aaron Donald and the NFL’s top-ranked defense.