Remembering Aaron Rodgers’ Best Playoff Performance

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a disappointing performance in last month’s playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. While Rodgers is a sure fire Hall of Famer after he retires, the Packers record in playoff games he started is 11-10.

While Rodgers’ play in the postseason hasn’t matched the outstanding level of his regular-season play, he has had some outstanding moments in the playoffs. Rodgers was the MVP of Super Bowl XLV when the Packers downed the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25, for example.

But Rodgers’ best playoff performance came earlier that season when the sixth-ranked Packers traveled to Atlanta to take on the top-seeded Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

The Packers were fresh off a 21-16 win over the Eagles in Philadelphia which was Rodgers’ first postseason win. The Falcons had a bye after finishing the season with a 13-3 mark.

The Falcons lead 7-0 after the first quarter before Rodgers started his incredible day. The Packers offense dominated. First, they scored on a 13-play, 81-yard drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. The next time they got the ball back, Rodgers led the Packers on a 10-play, 92-yard drive that took another 5:44 off the clock and culminated with a one-yard run by fullback John Kuhn.

Rodgers threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter including a six-yard touchdown toss to Jordy Nelson and a 20-yard scoring pass to James Jones which gave the Pack a 21-14 lead with 42 seconds left in the half.

Matt Ryan led the Falcons downfield in an attempt to score before the break. Atlanta reached the Green Bay 26 with 14 seconds left. Clay Matthews broke through and sacked Ryan for a nine-yard loss and the Falcons called their last time out with 10 seconds left.

The game’s turning point came on the next play. Ryan dropped back to pass and looked for receiver Roddy White in the left flat. Packers cornerback Tramon Williams stepped in front of the receiver, caught the ball and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown. The Packers led 28-14 at the half. Emotionally, the Falcons were sunk.

The Packers received the second half kickoff and Rodgers led then on a 12-play, 80-yard drive that he capped with a seven-yard touchdown run. The drive took 7:18 off the clock and extended the Packers lead to 35-14.

“I knew if we were able to go down and score on that drive that we would break their spirits,” Rodgers said.

The Packers won going away, beating the Falcons 48-21. Rodgers finished the game by completing 31-of-36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown in the game and finished with a quarterback rating of 136.8. It remains his highest quarterback rating in a playoff game.

How good was the Green Bay offense? The Packers didn’t punt at all in this game. Their first drive ended in a fumble followed by five straight touchdown drives. The next drive ended with a missed field goal followed by two more field goals by Mason Crosby. The last drive ended with a kneel down. The offense finished with 442 total yards compared to 194 for Atlanta. The Packers also held the ball for 38:19.

The Packers receivers were impressed by Rodgers’ performance. “Oh my gosh, the guy, he’s a phenomenal quarterback,” receiver Greg Jennings said after the game. “When he’s playing like that, boy he makes us a tough team to beat.”

James Jones was also amazed by Rodgers. “He was on the money today, man,” Jones said. “If you watch him during the week, the way he prepares, you expect that out of him. He may surprise you guys, but he doesn’t surprise us. We expect him to go out there and play well.”

“He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the game,” added veteran Donald Driver. “You got to give the man credit now. He came into a hostile environment and took care of business. A lot of people probably doubted him thinking he wasn’t going to come in and play well.”

The win gave the Packers a berth in the NFC Championship Game where they faced the Bears at Soldier Field. The Packers won that game and went on to win Super Bowl XLV.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy appreciated what Rodgers did for his team. “He was excellent today,” McCarthy told reporters after the game. “He was on fire. Aaron was able to run the offense at a very high level.”

Rodgers knew it was a special night. “Yeah, this was probably my best performance,” he admitted. “I think the stage that we’re on, the importance of the game. Yeah, it was a good night.”

A night he hasn’t topped in a playoff game…yet.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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1 points

Comments (10)

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Handsback's picture

February 19, 2022 at 12:43 pm

Yeah, that game was special and so was the SB....both were indoors and they were the underdogs. Since then, the big games have eluded him. It's been discussed ad nauseum but the coaches know and have yet to be able to fix the playoff issues.

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wildbill's picture

February 19, 2022 at 12:57 pm

I think the Super bowl would have been greater if not for all the dropped passes

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splitpea1's picture

February 19, 2022 at 01:08 pm

Sigh, so all we have left is nostalgia after all these years....

Notice back then that we had 4 solid receivers and the dreaded "trust factor" concept hadn't been born yet?

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Jordan's picture

February 19, 2022 at 02:13 pm

When you constantly hear the words “Rodgers hasn’t developed a trust with so and so receiver”, that’s loyal Rodgers fans blaming the receiver instead of Rodgers. How did Stafford go to the Rams and in less than a year develop all this “trust” with receivers he just met and win the Super Bowl?

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Leatherhead's picture

February 19, 2022 at 07:07 pm

Oh no. “Trust Factor” was alive and kicking during Favre. He trusted Driver, and didn’t throw to others because he didn’t trust them. At least that was a popular narrative, and it’s nice to see it made the transition from Favre to Rodgers.

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gkarl's picture

February 19, 2022 at 03:08 pm

I would like to be able to remember AR performance in this years SB but unfortunately I think I might be developing dementia. :)

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Packers0808's picture

February 19, 2022 at 04:49 pm

Real selective memory needed here to remember Rodgers doing good in a paly off game! Eleven years is a long time to remember! Especially when you get to be 77 years old!

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croatpackfan's picture

February 20, 2022 at 02:31 am

Unfortunatelly, that performance we will never be able to see from Aaron Rodgers again, in post- season, of course.

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Gil5Grl1's picture

February 21, 2022 at 11:39 am

That was the best game I've ever seen a QB play. Atlanta D was no lollipop. Throwing under duress into tight windows. In case people don't remember what Packers were like prior to 30+ years of HoF QBs, we're about to find out. Unicorns don't grow on trees. Somehow, Ron Wolfe got Reggie White to come to Green Bay. If not for that, we would have 30+ years & only Rodgers' SB.

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Tundraboy's picture

February 21, 2022 at 07:35 pm

I can't remember, Atlanta?

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