Former Cal quarterback and current Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers straight out dismantled the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the NFL Playoffs. Rodgers converted his first seven third down passes into first downs, and converted his first five red zone opportunities into touchdowns, pacing them to a 42-14 lead after three quarters. The Packers held the ball for 38 minutes, didn't punt once, and strolled along to a 48-21 victory on their way to the NFC Championship game. Much of this was in thanks to the arm, accuracy, and intelligence of Rodgers, who completed 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns, plus rushing for another one to put the game away in the third quarter.
There's a much bigger question though. Did Rodgers do enough to convince Colin Cowherd he's for real?
Cowherd was relentlessly hounding Rodgers before the 2011 NFL Playoffs, and believed Matt Ryan would dust him off in this one (Ryan was 20 for 29 for 189 yards, but threw the game-killing interceptions in the second quarter). Here are some of the money quotes he used, courtesy of a takedown by Ryan Cortes of The Big Lead.
"I went into the ESPN research department and looked in the Aaron Rodgers playoff file," you began, on January 7th on SportsNation. "Know what I found? A bagel. No playoff wins."
"The great Aaron Rodgers, the guy I’ve been lectured on for 5 years as the next Tom Brady, and now we’re 1 week away from one-and-done for him. Again." – Cowherd, January 2nd 2010.
Rodgers has now won two playoff games in a row against the Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles, plus another two games that were essentially elimination games versus the New York Giants and Chicago Bears. He's thrown ten touchdowns and only one interceptions in three playoff games, ALL of them on the road.
Cowherd has also ranted about how Rodgers was 7-13 in games decided by 7 points or less before October 18th (a stat that's improved to 10-15 since that time), never mind the meaninglessness of that stat. It seems that Cowherd has used Rodgers as his polarizing rod to inspire more people to listen to his crappy show and ensure he stays at the top of the mind-numbing world of sports radio.
Michelle Beadle, Cowherd's SportsNation co-host, made it quite clear she was going to be on her partner after this performance. But I can already imagine what Cowherd's response will be this week.
"Well, those Falcons were the worst number one seed in NFL history. What will Rodgers do against a REAL team?"
"Did Rodgers intercept those passes by Matt Ryan? Tramon Williams is carrying Rodgers on his back to the NFC Championship."
"Let's see him get to the Super Bowl. What great NFL quarterback hasn't been to the Super Bowl?"
SB Nation Bay Area will keep you tracked on further developments in this Cowherd-Rodgers riff-raff.