DETROIT – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by Sports Xchange) – – Green Bay completed the six-game plan. Now it wants to follow the six-year plan.
The Packers entered the NFC playoffs during the 2010 season with a 10-6 record. That was only good enough for a wild-card spot, but they rode the arm of Aaron Rodgers to three road victories to reach the Super Bowl, then defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to claim the Lombardi Trophy.
For most of this season, it didn’t appear that Green Bay would even make the postseason. It had a losing record after 10 games, but Rodgers lifted the Packers out of the deep hole. He completed the journey with four more touchdown passes on Sunday in a 31-24 victory over Detroit at Ford Field.
Aaron Rodgers (12)
It wasn’t long ago that Rodgers’ leadership abilities were in question, as was coach Mike McCarthy’s job status. There were also reports of a disconnect between quarterback and coach, but Rodgers had nothing but praise for McCarthy afterward.
“Mike stayed the path,” Rodgers said. “When the storm was upon us and upon him — about his job security, about myself and my leadership and about our teammates and the way we would respond to the four-game losing streak — we stuck together. It says a lot about the kind of people we have in our organization and in that locker room.”
Green Bay has been decimated by injuries in certain areas, particularly its secondary, and suffered more on Sunday. But it has perhaps the most feared weapon in the league playing at the peak of his abilities. Rodgers had thrown 18 touchdown passes in the past seven games without an interception. He hasn’t committed a turnover since Nov. 13.
Rodgers was once again brilliant on Sunday, especially in the second half. He completed 17 of 22 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns after his team went to the locker room down 14-10.
His signature play was his 10-yard scoring pass to Geronimo Allison early in the fourth quarter. He whirled around and improvised to buy time, shuffled to his left, then delivered the scoring strike that gave the Packers a two-score lead.
“The biggest thing that gets lost in this is that great players make other players so much better,” McCarthy said. “Particularly in the passing game, extending plays against a rush that was relentless.
“It obviously factored big time, particularly on that one to Geronimo. That’s about as fine of a play extension that, I wouldn’t say was his best ever, but it’s up there, particularly going to his left. A great throw and Geronimo did a great job of working that back line.”
With Rodgers playing this way, there’s reason to believe they can recapture the postseason magic they had six years ago. They have it a little easier this time, opening the playoffs with a home game against the NFC’s top wild card, the New York Giants.
“Anything can happen when we get into the playoffs,” Rodgers said. “We did that years ago. It’s a fun group of guys. It’s fun to win with these guys and it’s fun to do it the way we did these last six weeks.”