MVP cements Rodgers' status as elite quarterback
ARLINGTON, Texas — Clay Matthews walked up to Aaron Rodgers and placed a championship belt across his shoulder.
Moments after guiding the Packers to victory in Super Bowl XLV, Matthews' gesture acknowledged that Rodgers doesn't have to take a back seat to anybody — even Brett Favre.
With last night's 31-25 win over the Steelers, Rodgers has won as many championships as Favre, but now has one award that Favre doesn't — a Super Bowl MVP trophy.
Rodgers passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns to join Bart Starr as Green Bay quarterbacks to win Super Bowl MVP.
"It's a dream come true," Rodgers said. "It's what I dreamt about as a little kid watching Joe Montana and Steve Young."
Starr was named MVP in Super Bowl I and II. Desmond Howard earned the award in 1997 when the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI.
"He played great," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "We put everything on his shoulders. He did a hell of a job."
Rodgers' performance was similar to what he's done all throughout the playoffs.
After a season in which he passed for nearly 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns, Rodgers was just as good in the playoffs. He threw for 1,094 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
"Now he can say that he is one of the best, if not the best, in the league," receiver Donald Driver said. "He can sit on top of the world now. It was Bart Starr, Brett Favre and now Aaron Rodgers."
Growing up in Northern California, Rodgers' path to greatness had a similar tone to what he saw watching the 49ers as a teenager, with Young trying to replace a legend such as Montana.
Rodgers took over for Favre in a much-publicized move three years ago, and made the Packers quickly forget all about the future Hall of Famer by slinging the ball all around Cowboys Stadium.
The Packers all but abandoned the run game and was forced to go with Rodgers through the air.
Out of the Packers 19 plays in the fourth quarter, Rodgers dropped back to pass on all but four of them. Rodgers led the Packers on a scoring drive to start the fourth quarter by directing them on an eight-play, 53-yard march in which they ran only twice.
Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for 38 yards, and two plays later connected with Greg Jennings for an 8-yard touchdown to make it 28-17.
But Rodgers really shined when it counted most.
The Steelers rallied to get within 28-25 midway through the fourth quarter, but Rodgers answered with a 10-play drive that led to a field goal. The big play was a 31-yard pass to Jennings on third-and-10.
"He is going to be an elite quarterback in this league for years to come," Matthews said.
Super Bowl XLV
Super Bowl XLV is Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers at Cowboy's Stadium in Arlington, TX February 6, 2011.