Aaron Rodgers has spent the last two seasons desperately trying to escape the spectre of Brett Favre in Green Bay. Now, he finally has a chance to write his own legend. The script begins today in Glendale, Arizona, where Rodgers and the Packers (11-5) take on the Arizona Cardinals (10-6). The 26-year-old quarterback is coming off a remarkable season in which he has completed 64.7 per cent of his passes for 4,434 yards with 30 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
And his teammates seem to believe in him as much as they ever did in the man he replaced. "Man, he's calm, collected," said the nose tackle Ryan Pickett. "Nothing bothers A-Rod. I haven't seen him rattled by anything. I think he's looking forward to this play-off thing. It's the biggest stage for him to shine, and I think he's going to handle it real good." The Packers have handled everything well in the second half of the season, in which they went 7-1 - with their lone loss coming on a last-second touchdown pass in Pittsburgh.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, have stumbled, going 3-3 down the stretch, including a 33-7 loss at home to the Packers while they rested many of their starters last Sunday afternoon. Of course, the Cardinals stumbled into the post-season last year, too, and they still managed to reach Super Bowl XLIII - where they narrowly lost the championship to the Pittsburgh Steelers. To have a similar run this year, though, they will need an answer for Rodgers, who despite being sacked 50 times this year has managed to avoid throwing an interception in seven of his last eight games.
"He's the focus," said Green Bay receiver, Donald Driver. "We know that he's going to have to take us where we want to go." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Arizona v Green Bay, 1.40am, Monday, Fox Sports