Sunday, January 23, 2011
Jay Cutler Quits on Bears, But Rodgers, Packers Take On New Brand Name
It was supposed to be the meanest, bloodiest postseason contest in history, a renewed rivalry for a pair of bitter teams, hungrier than ever before to knock heads into the turf and produce raw blood for one of the greatest NFC Championship Games of all time.
It was supposed to be an epic classic, a chance for the world to witness the rebirth of an intense rivalry, a chance for the world to traditionally catch an emotional feel of old-school, smash mouth football, but instead it was the rebirth of Titletown.
It was a time when the Green Bay Packers, a regal brand name in the NFL, captured Super Bowl triumph and proudly celebrated another historic feat. It's almost simple, particularly if the Packers are crowned champs in a few weeks, to refer to the Packers as America's team, adored customarily for its symbolic popularity and prestige, becoming not only noticeable for its resurgence but also for climbing onto the greatest stage of the grandest national holiday in sports.
The classy, friendly residences of Green Bay realized the Packers were inevitably the hottest franchise, when non-believers in any other town, any other state were peeved by the Packers hurried emergence. The lustful folks of Green Bay, wearing cheesehead hats to keep a silly but lovable tradition intact, are overwhelmed, really, almost ready to launch a party in an emotional, spirited town. And like that, the Packers are a unified and monstrous team in a season Green Bay adjusted the woeful struggles.
If the Packers hope to win the Super Bowl, in a sense, they can win the Lombardi Trophy by the end of the season when it seems Green Bay is invulnerable of a lost anytime soon as favorites to win the Super Bowl with the most efficient passer Aaron Rodgers, the premier quarterback of the league.
There is much to like about Rodgers, whether it's his humbleness to seize the national spotlight without acknowledging it, but instead, focusing on his team, whether it's his capabilities to play in the footsteps of a monumental legend and lead the Packers to glorious moments or whether it's his record-setting 98.4 career passer rating.
Whatever it is, he's an all-encompassing iconic figure, adored for the Packers revival and idolized for exceeding expectations in the leadership role with one of the most beloved franchise traditionally and nationally. If the Packers are the most popular team, lifting closely to greatness without a long-time legend in their third post-Favre season, then it won't be such a bad idea to acknowledge the much-improved Rodgers, who flourished in one season and has been portrayed as the top quarterback in the league.
The turning point, in all likelihood, was perceptible when he led the Packers to a pair of road wins, although Green Bay was taken into account as underdogs in each contest and still fooled the world. It had all come down to what was sudden death, and by virtue, a signature game that Rodgers, withstanding the toughest position by his maturity and talent, confirmed he truly is the best quarterback in the NFL.
As it turns out, optimism and vehemence plays a role in the Packers cultural differences, more alarming than ever was Rodgers manipulating the personality of the game, and more appealing was his delivery to each of his star receivers.
"It was a great start for us but you've got to give credit to our defense. Our defense has been playing lights out the last few weeks," Rodgers said. "The offense sometimes gets a little too much credit. They carried us today and we're going to the Super Bowl. It feels incredible."
A lot of people underestimated the Packers, a lot of people overlooked that Rodgers can make a touchdown-saving tackle. As the latest Packers-Bears rivalry ended wonderfully for Green Bay, against its archenemies in a decisive clash with implications, Rodgers tossed downfield passes and ran for a touchdown.
It wasn't too long ago, dressed casually on the streets of Green Bay, when he walked into Cheese Cake Heaven, a famous bakery near Lambeau Field with Packers' players. In there, he was greeted with warmhearted good luck wishes, and certainly, it benefited Green Bay Sunday afternoon.
As of now, with the only non-profit, community owned franchise in American professional sports, he progressively enhanced his level of play and can eventually win his first Super Bowl title, just one win away from immortality and glory. All of this came after the hallowed era of Vince Lombardi or even after the dramatic era of the wishy-washy diva Brett Favre. In contrast, Rodgers, 27, was never a worldwide leader in nuisance, but a worldwide leader among quarterbacks.
The Packers success is clearly from the emergence of the cannon-armed, pocket passer Rodgers and the relentless, hard-driven defense led by the ferocious Clay Matthews, a man whose family inherits football after the game has been passed on from generations. There was no bloody war, as expected, but there were the Packers playing their hardest to reach a triumphant level in the league, thrilled to be booking hotel reservations and flying to Cowboy Stadium in Dallas.
"It's a dream come true. It's an incredible feeling. I'm at a loss for words," said Rodgers. "You've got to give credit to our defense. I didn't play my best game. They stopped us. We just had enough points on offense and B.J. [Raji] had a big touchdown catch."
This definitely wasn't the most thrilling afternoon, and it never came close to an epic battle we, as football devotees, expected it to turn out. It wasn't pretty for the Bears, in fact, it was worse than we anticipated, particularly when it was the Packers versus the Bears in one of the most alarming clashes for the ages which was never alarming. Not one minute. Not even a second. And because it turned into a nightmare for the Bears, Jay Cutler was vulnerable for attack verbally following the game.
"First and foremost, we've got to stop the run and get after [Jay] Cutler," Clay Matthews said. "I think we did that to fruition. He couldn't finish the game. We really got after him and I think that's why we won today."
So now fairly enough, he's portrayed as a quitter for leaving in the second half with an injured knee, and he never returned but stood on the sideline in his coat. For much of the game, he mainly stood away from his teammates with a guilty facial expression on his face as if he was really sad for letting down his teammates and the coaching staff.
Where he stood, Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher walked over and briefly chatted with Cutler. It wasn't as scary as Cutler, who is expected to undergo an MRI on the damaged knee Monday, advertised it, and he clearly blew his reputation by surrendering in a crucial game.
"I don't know exactly when it happened," Lovie Smith said. "He couldn't go and that was that. Let's go on to some other questions.
Seems he is merely America's worst enemy right now when a few Chicago players were defensive of Cutler after he was criticized heavily on Twitter. He is clearly the one quarterback not to be trusted, but his good friend, Rodgers, is a trustworthy figure and never has been polarized by the media or fans.
In fairness, he quit on his team at the worst possible time and let down thousands at Soldier Field Sunday afternoon, willing to quiver on a frigid afternoon as a way to support their Bears. The problem is, Cutler was soft and careless when much was at stake, which is why players and fans slammed him via Twitter, angrily fumed over his ill-attempt to try and return.
"Nothing like jealous people at home watching," Urlacher said. "I love jealous people when they are watching our game on TV while their season is over."
By the third quarter, he was replaced by Todd Collins but struggled in his two drives and finished 0-4, two passes almost intercepted. If there was one quarterback of the Bears, worthy of saving Chicago from itself, it was clearly Caleb Hanie, a second-year player with 14 career attempts but impressively almost led a magical comeback after he had replaced Collins. There were lots of moments, such as Sunday in his greatest adventure ever, when Rodgers continued to polish on his dignified postseason and completed 4-of-4 passes for 76 yards and scored on a 1-yard touchdown.
Wisely, he wasn't soft or intimidated by the Bears and took a knockout shot directly to the face on a dirty hit by Bears forceful defensive end Julius Peppers. He never quit but persisted in firing throws against one of the league's resilient defenses and he amazingly stayed calm, although he was picked twice and lofted an ill-advised throw in Chicago's territory that dropped into the arms of Urlacher.
So looks as if he was red hot with a pair of turnovers that were unnoticed, once the Packers clinched the NFC championship game in a decisive 21-14 win in one of the oldest rivalries and earned its first trip to the Super Bowl in 13 years. As the clock trickled, if you've noticed, the sellout crowd at Soldier Field were stunned in disbelief and witnessed Hanie foolishly deliver an awful pass that landed in the hands of Packers' nose tackle B.J. Raji to clinch the nicest win in years.
With one of the sharpest creative minds in football, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers opted to exploit a zone blitz, and it fittingly ended in their favor on an 18-yard return for a touchdown by the 325-pound nose tackle that gave the Packers a 21-7 lead over the Bears.
"I think when you play a team three times, a familiar opponent, you have to be able to mix it up a little bit in order to present new problems, Matthews said. "I think we were able to do that for the most part."
All the credit goes to Capers for calling the zone blitz at perfect timing, on a day when much was on the line, when the Packers were innovative and when the Packers were hungrier and much better than their archrivals. And because of it, Cutler left the game 6-of-4 for 80 yards and had a horrible passer rating of 31.8 with one interception, a trait pretty much nerve-racking for Bears fans. Only difference this time is that he bailed on his teammates and coaches, and even more so, he bailed on the fans.
"Hey, I think the urban meyer rule is effect right now...When the going gets tough........QUIT." Maurice Jones-Drew tweeted during the game. "All I'm saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee...I played the whole season on one."
Unlike Rodgers, he quit.
Unlike Cutler, Rodgers stayed red hot even though he never had a great game, but a convincing win as one of the top quarterbacks.
Take it from this reaction: "FOX HAVEN'T SHOWED ANY TRAINERS LOOKING AT CUTLER, UMMM," tweeted Derrick Brooks, a former NFL player.
Let us not take anything away from the Packers. They were the better team and wanted it more. From here, the Packers can fly to Dallas for a party and the trophy.