The NFC Championship Game has proven to be the hardest playoff hurdle for the Green Bay Packers to climb in the Aaron Rodgers era.
Only one quarterback in Green Bay Packers history (Frett Favre) has played in more NFC championship games than Aaron Rodgers, and that will change Sunday when Green Bay takes on the San Francisco 49ers.
No Packers quarterback as ever run into as much trouble in this postseason round.
Even in the one win the Rodgers-led Packers have had in a conference championship game, the 2010 showdown at the Chicago Bears, the best statistical passer in NFL history didn’t have his best quality game.
Yes, he ran for the Packers’ first score that day, but he threw two itnerceptions, one of which led to the most important play he ever made in a title game, a touchdown-saving tackle.
But the 2010 Packers had enough playmaking ability in other facets of their game to make up for it, the kind of quality that makes up a championship team. James Starks’ running (74 yards and a touchdown), and the NFL’s second-ranked scoring defense creating a turnover of their own for a B.J. Raji pick-six in the fourth quarter, gave the Packers a 21-14 win and a shot for Rodgers to make up for his bad day with a superb Super Bowl.
Which he did, with a Super Bowl MVP performance in a 31-25 win.
2014 NFC Championship Game at Seattle
Rodgers had another subpar day when the Packers went to Seattle to face the Seahawks in the 2014 title game. He only threw for 178 yards and again threw two picks, but his touchdown pass to Randall Cobb was enough to give Green Bay a 16-0 lead at halftime.
But then the defense and special teams collapsed in the final two minutes and nine seconds of regulation.
And even after Rodgers led a clutch drive to set the Packers up for a game-tying field goal, he never saw the ball in overtime.
The Seahawks scored with a Russell Wilson-to-Jermaine Kearse touchdown pass on the fifth quarter’s only possession, and Seattle went to the Super Bowl instead, in perhaps the most painful loss in Packers history.
2016 NFC Championship Game at Atlanta
Two years later, Rodgers led a Packers team on an unlikely eight-game winning streak into Atlanta to battle the Falcons.
The battle was over early. The Falcons scored the game’s first 31 points and obliterated Green Bay 44-21.
In total, Rodgers’ passer rating in NFC title games is just 70.5 – nearly 32 points below his career regular season passer rating.
He may need to perform much better for his underdog Packers to go on the road and upset the 49ers, and give him a shot at his second Super Bowl title.