Hardware Shopping Occupies Rodgers

Record-setting Aaron Rodgers has thrown 11 touchdown passes with just one interception in getting the Packers to the NFC Championship Game. His even-keel approach should serve him well with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line on Sunday at Chicago.

Tom Brady has won three Super Bowls.

Ben Roethlisberger has won two.

Peyton Manning has won one and is the NFL's only four-time MVP.

But if Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman — the proud holder of three Super Bowl rings — were putting together a football team, he said he'd pick the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback.

"Well, that's quite an honor, it really is, anytime I'm mentioned in the same sentence with those guys," Rodgers said from the podium on Wednesday, just a few days before leading Green Bay against longtime rival Chicago in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field. "I have a lot of respect for Troy and what he did with his career. He's probably being a little bit too generous. I think to be mentioned in the same category as those guys, we have to put some more hardware around here."

That hardware is in sight, with Rodgers playing at a record-setting level in getting the Packers to the NFL's version of the Final Four. He's the only quarterback in NFL history to register passer ratings of 120-plus in each of his first three postseason starts, and his career playoff mark of 129.4 is a record. His 10 touchdown passes also are a postseason record, and he's the only quarterback with three-plus touchdown passes in each of his first three playoff starts. Against Atlanta on Saturday night, Rodgers completed 31-of-36 passes — that 86.1 percent is the highest in postseason history among quarterbacks with 35 attempts — and led the offense to five consecutive touchdowns en route to a 48-21 romp.

"I love him," receiver Donald Driver said. "I don't know if you can put words to it but he's playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the game, if not the best. I've watched him grow from a young man to a grown man. I take my hat off to him.

"I'm glad I'm on his side."

Aaron Rodgers
Mike Roemer/AP Images
Put all of that on top of his league-record regular-season passer rating of 97.2, his all-time low interception percentage of 2.0 and his 11 touchdowns vs. one interception during these four consecutive must-win games, and Rodgers has put all of those Brett Favre questions to rest.

"I think he's definitely the quarterback we all hoped he would become," coach Mike McCarthy said on Wednesday. "He was a young, talented quarterback (when Favre was traded to the Jets in August 2008), had a very bright future, and now we're in year three of his development, and he's definitely developed into a special player. He does it the right way. He'll break them down physically, mentally. He's in a great rhythm right now. He's playing his best football of his career at this point, and that's what you want, especially this time of year. He's definitely a big-time quarterback. He's everything we hoped he'd be."

Now comes the next big challenge in Rodgers' career. To win the NFC and get to the Super Bowl, Rodgers will have to lead the Packers to victory at Chicago. Not that the Bears have shut down Rodgers, but they've done about as well as any team. Rodgers put 28 points on the board in the second quarter alone against the Falcons. He put 27 on the board in two games this season against Chicago.

Fairly or not, it's games like these that define quarterbacks. As Rodgers' brief playoff history would suggest, McCarthy doesn't expect anything less than Rodgers' best.

"He has played at a high level really all year," McCarthy said. "I know what the numbers are, but Aaron is a very consistent player and it probably stems from his personality. He is clearly one of the most consistent quarterbacks that I have had the opportunity to work with. He is the same person every day. He doesn't swing with the highs and lows of how the season is going or how our practice is going, and I think it really carries over to the playing field. He works extremely hard at his craft. He has done a great job with his body over the time we have been here. He is a well-conditioned athlete. Just the way you see him play in the pocket, he gets out of the pocket, he is very strong, he breaks tackles, he is able to extend plays. But he is just a very consistent individual and I think that has a lot to do with the way he is playing."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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