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Not Super: Rodgers’ Playoff Legacy Takes Beating

Since winning the Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers is 7-9 in playoff games. Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo and Matthew Stafford will play for the Super Bowl.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – On Feb. 6, 2011, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers cemented his status as one of the great players in the NFL by winning Super Bowl XLV.

Three MVPs later – with potentially a fourth to be awarded to him in a couple weeks – Rodgers has only built upon his superb resume. He’s not just one of the league’s great players. He’s one of the greatest in NFL history. He is a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer.

However, for all his accolades and milestones, his playoff resume has only grown flimsier. Since riddling the Pittsburgh Steelers for 304 yards and three touchdowns with a series of clutch completions to win Super Bowl MVP honors, Rodgers has faltered too often on the playoff stage. In his last nine years of playoffs, Rodgers is 7-9. One of those wins came against Minnesota in 2012, when Joe Webb was a late replacement for Christian Ponder.

It's not as if he’s been bad in those games. In fact, his only really bad game was the 2014 NFC Championship Game at Seattle, when he had a 55.8 passer rating and the Packers failed to bury the Seahawks after forcing five turnovers. He just hasn’t been great often enough.

Rodgers closed the regular season with a seven-game span in which he threw 20 touchdowns vs. zero interceptions. It was an all-time great stretch of games. On Saturday night, he melted against the 49ers’ physical pressure and perhaps the mental pressure of a “Last Dance” scenario and what might be his last great chance at finally winning a second Super Bowl.

Look at the four quarterbacks who reached the NFC divisional playoffs.

Overall, Rodgers is 11-10 in the playoffs. Rodgers, who has spent his entire career in the NFC, has won 10 postseason games against conference competition.

Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady fell to 35-12 in the playoffs after losing to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Brady, who spent most of his career in the AFC, also has won 10 playoff games against NFC competition. Rodgers would have to win 19 consecutive playoff games to pull ahead of Brady in terms of playoff winning percentage.

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San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo – who the 49ers are trying to replace – improved to 4-1 in the playoffs on Saturday. His 49ers have knocked out Rodgers twice the last three years.

Los Angeles’ Matthew Stafford spent most his career stuck in Detroit so reached the postseason only three times in 12 seasons. In Year 1 with the Rams, he knocked out the might Brady to advance to the NFC title game.

Rodgers was right last week when he was asked about his legacy.

“I think success is often based, for quarterbacks, on championships won,” Rodgers said. “I think success, individually, is much more than that and failure, on the flip side of that, failure, in my opinion, shouldn’t be based solely on your losses and your failures, your mistakes, your low points. It’s so much more than that. It’s mind-set. It’s an approach.”

Maybe he’d have a different tone if he had four Super Bowl rings instead of one. Still, to his point, it’s not a one-man team. In 16 playoff games since Green Bay’s last Super Bowl title, Rodgers watched his team give up 31-plus points six times (37.5 percent). In 27 playoff games directed by Brady over that same span, his teams have given up 31-plus points three times (11.1 percent).

Of course, Green Bay’s defense was spectacular on Saturday. This loss wasn’t like 2009 at Arizona, when the Packers gave up 51, or 2015 at Arizona, when Larry Fitzgerald ran 75 yards to set up the winning touchdown. This loss wasn’t like 2012 at San Francisco, when Colin Kaepernick had 444 total yards and four touchdowns, or 2019 at San Francisco, when Raheem Mostert ran for 220 yards and Garoppolo threw only eight passes. This one falls on Rodgers, which he readily admitted, for throwing inaccurately, turning down easy completions, and missing Allen Lazard on the final drive. When it was time to win the game, Rodgers couldn’t do it. Brady’s done that throughout his career. Stafford did it on Sunday.

So, for the 11th consecutive year, the Packers have been shut out of the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, on Sunday, it will be 49ers at Rams for a trip to the Big Game. If San Francisco wins, Garoppolo will reach his second Super Bowl – more than Rodgers. If Los Angeles wins, Stafford will have as many Super Bowl appearances as Rodgers despite spending most of his career in purgatory.

Fair or not, and whether he likes it or not, his team’s continued playoff failures are a black mark on a magnificent career.