Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers take a knee in ‘Clash of the Titans’


The victory formation – especially for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers – can be a beautiful thing.

The media had hyped up this potential “Super Bowl preview” all week long … and it wholly lived up to expectations.

It can also be the most frustrating thing – depending on which sideline you are asking.

When the Green Bay Packers lined up in formation to kneel down after the two-minute warning on Sunday afternoon, Packers Nation rejoiced. The New England Patriots, however, looked on in disbelief.

The media had hyped up this potential “Super Bowl preview” all week long … and it wholly lived up to expectations.

It was a great, hard-fought game on both sides of the field.

Though it wasn’t as high scoring as some thought it would be, both defenses put on a show in front of the world, each facing a future Hall-of-Fame QB and NFL legend.

Mine was a house divided; poring over each and every play with a Patriots fan beside me on the couch was difficult. In the end, the players and coaches responded just the way that we both did to each other: with mutual respect and admiration.

Aaron Rodgers exchanges greetings with New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick following Sunday’s game. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

After the game, Belichick made his way across the field to personally congratulate QB Aaron Rodgers and HC Mike McCarthy. We are so used to seeing Belichick jog to the middle of the field, exchange a one-second handshake and head to the locker room; it was a surprise to see him on the field for as long as he was post-game.

Many attribute this to Belichick knowing how to appreciate an opposing QB and coaching staff that is equally yoked to the Patriots own personnel.

While Belichick is most assuredly the greatest mind in all of football and has changed the coaching game on so many levels throughout the years, he made a point to prove that McCarthy is well on his way.

After the game, the Patriots had the media stock answers ready to go. They lamented not making enough plays offensively and giving up too many big plays defensively.

They praised the Packers’ schemes and personnel on certain plays – they gave credit where it was due. In the back of their minds (and definitely in their eyes), was great remorse. They felt like they had let a great game slip from their fingers.

True, the Patriots had a chance to take the only lead of the day when Brady found Gronk in the back of the end zone for a would-be touchdown, forced out by the quick hands of rookie Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix.

With just over three minutes left in the game, it would have put the Patriots ahead two points (barring a two-point conversion), with Rodgers having one more chance to tie or win the game in the 2-minute drill.

When the pass fell incomplete, Brady was sandwiched on 3rd and 9 by both Mike Neal and Mike Daniels, forcing the Patriots to kick a field goal, which sailed right.

Only up by 5 points, the Packers needed to eat the remainder of the clock. Turning to a hobbled Eddie Lacy, the Packers drew a HUGE 3rd and 4 play.

Rodgers, with time to move around in the pocket, found Randall Cobb for a first down, allowing the Packers to run the clock to the 2-minute warning and beyond, as the Patriots were out of time outs.

Both Brady and Rodgers led their teams on some impressive drives down the field, making plays when they were needed.

It was Rodgers, however, who was able to shake the infamous “can’t keep up with the elite teams in the league” persona bestowed upon him by certain members of the sports media.

Though he doesn’t have the come-from-behind stats that Brady, Romo and Brees seem to possess, it isn’t often that Mr. Rodgers is forced to play from behind, especially in his own neighborhood.

The emotions on the Patriots sideline and in the locker room were clear: they wanted this win.

The comments from the Packers, including Micah Hyde admitting that the Packers essentially “lied” about treating this game as every other game – told the same story.

The Packers were 0-2 against Tom Brady and the Patriots since Rodgers’ tenure in Green Bay. The stakes had never been higher than this: week 13 of the NFL season, both top-tier teams at the top of their respective conferences, both elite QBs with high-flying offenses; not to mention the playoff implications, as both teams are battling for potential berths and home field advantage throughout January.

You could see the disgust (and read the lips) of Tom Brady when the Packers converted that last third down. You could feel the tension in the air; it was palpable all afternoon.

And though the Packers bested the best on Sunday …

… revenge is best served cold. February cold.