The Fab Five is back again, as we look back at some of the best and worst from the Green Bay Packers’ postseason history. Starting off this year’s series are Aaron Rodgers’ best postseason performances.
With the Green Bay Packers entering the postseason for the 11th time during his career as the starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers has provided plenty of postseason memories over the last several seasons.
In 20 previous postseason starts, Rodgers has thrown for 5,669 yards, 45 touchdowns, and a 100.5 QB rating – not to mention provided the Packer faithful with a laundry list of highlight-reel plays and unforgettable moments.
So, much like we did this time last year with Brett Favre, we’re going to highlight five of Rodgers’ best playoff performances (as always, in no particular order). We’re not simply sorting by passer rating, yards, or touchdowns, but rather picking the contests where Rodgers performed his best – regardless of final score – when the stakes were highest.
2009 NFC Wild Card at Arizona Cardinals (Jan. 10, 2010)
Final stats: 28-of-42, 423 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 121.4 rating
While this game – like so many other that have followed – ended in crushing fashion, Rodgers’ desert duel with Kurt Warner left an indelible mark on NFL postseason lore.
The game, though, could not have gotten off to a worse start for Green Bay. On the first play from scrimmage Rodgers was intercepted by Arizona’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, setting up a quick Cardinals touchdown. On the second snap of the ensuing drive, Donald Driver lost a fumble to set up another short field for Arizona, leading to a 14-0 hole. After a punt and a missed field goal, the Packers found themselves facing a 17-0 deficit just minutes into the second quarter.
On the heels of a Clay Matthews fumble recovery deep in Packer territory, a proverbial switch flipped for Rodgers and Green Bay. The Packers would score on each of their next seven possessions to force overtime, racking up 480 total yards in those possessions. Beginning at 11:06 in the second quarter and ending at the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter, Rodgers’ stat line was 23-of-32 for 376 yards and four touchdowns, plus a rushing score. All told, he produced a 150.5 rating in two-plus quarters of play.
2010 NFC Divisional Playoffs at Atlanta Falcons (Jan. 15, 2011)
Final stats: 31-of-36, 366 yards, 3 TDs, 136.8 rating
Without a doubt, the crown jewel of Rodgers’ playoff performances is the dominating performance in Atlanta. With Green Bay again facing an early deficit, the Packers incinerated the top-seeded Falcons defense with touchdowns on five-straight possessions (plus a memorable Tramon Williams pick-six to end the first half).
Following the 102-yard kick return touchdown from Atlanta’s Eric Weems that gave the Falcons a 14-7 lead just three minutes into the second quarter, Rodgers threw for 252 yards and two TDs (plus a rushing score) on 19-of-23 passing in a span of under 27 minutes of game time. By the time the time that stretch ended, Rodgers and the Packers had built a 42-14 lead with just over a quarter still left to play.
Just how good was Rodgers’ performance that night? It marked just the fifth time in NFL postseason history where a quarterback completed over 85 percent of his passes on 15 or more attempts.
Super Bowl XLV vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Feb. 6, 2011)
Final stats: 24-of-39, 304 yards, 3 TDs, 111.5 rating
Rodgers’ performance in Super Bowl XLV wasn’t his best statistical performance – which says something about how high of a bar he has set. However, it was the key plays he made to A) get the Packers’ offense rolling and B) put away the game in the second half that made him more than deserving of game MVP honors.
With both sides shaking off a sluggish start, Rodgers broke the ice on Green Bay’s second possession, completing five-straight passes before lofting a 29-yard pass to Jordy Nelson for the game’s first score. Late in the second quarter, he again showed off his precision by rifling a pass to Jennings moments before a jarring hit from Troy Polamalu to give the Packers a 21-3 lead late in the second.
Green Bay’s offense again went cold in the third, but Rodgers’ play on two fourth-quarter drives helped clinch the franchise’s 13th NFL title. Key among them: A 38-yard catch-and-run completion to Jordy Nelson on a 3rd-and-10 to extend Green Bay’s fourth TD drive plus a 31-yard laser between defenders to Jennings on their final non-kneeldown drive.
2014 NFC Divisional Playoffs vs. Dallas Cowboys (Jan. 11, 2015)
Final stats: 24-of-35, 316 yards, 3 TDs, 125.4 rating
The game two years later in Dallas gets more notoriety, but Rodgers’ play in the 2014 Divisional Round provides an equally great example of his calm under pressure.
Trailing 21-13 late in the third and the Cowboys’ offense seemingly moving at will, Rodgers guided the Packers on a seven-play, 90-yard drive that ended on Davante Adams’ weaving 46-yard touchdown catch and run to get the Green Bay within one. On the ensuing possession, Rodgers completed all seven of his passes, including a go-ahead dart to Richard Rodgers from 13 yards out – threading the ball between two Dallas defenders – to put the Packers back in front.
After Dez Bryant’s famous drop, Rodgers iced the game with third-down conversions to Adams and Randall Cobb. Between those final three drives, he accumulated nearly half of his passing yardage on the day (165 yards) and threw just two incompletions on 16 attempts.
2020 NFC Divisional Playoffs vs. Los Angeles Rams (Jan. 16, 2021)
Final stats: 23-of-36, 296 yards, 2 TDs, 108.1 rating
It wasn’t a flashy win, but last year’s Divisional Round triumph over the Rams is a prime example of how Rodgers’ career has been boosted in Matt LaFleur’s system. Buoyed by a strong ground attack from Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, and A.J. Dillon, Rodgers sliced through Los Angeles’ top-rated pass defense to the tune of 296 yards and two touchdowns along with a rushing score.
After scoring on each of their first five possessions to build a 25-10 lead, the Packers needed one more score to put the game away. Two plays after converting a third down to extend the drive, Rodgers connected with Allen Lazard on a 58-yard game-clinching touchdown to send Green Bay to its second-straight NFC Championship Game.
Honorable Mention: 2016 Wild Card vs. New York Giants; 2016 NFC Divisional Playoffs vs. Dallas Cowboys; 2019 NFC Divisional Playoffs vs. Seattle Seahawks