GREEN BAY, Wis. – In the last two weeks, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has walked off the field victorious against two of the NFL’s living legends. Last week, it was Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. On Sunday, it was New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Rodgers might get another shot at Brady in the playoffs. In the case of Belichick, this might have been the last matchup between the great quarterback and the brilliant coach.
“Yeah, it likely is the last time, so a lot of respect for Bill,” Rodgers said after rallying the Packers to a 27-24 win in overtime. “Nice to beat him. A lot of respect for Bill, he’s a legend and deserves all the credit that he gets.”
When Rodgers entered the Packers-Patriots matchup in 2006, nobody could have guessed what was to come. The Patriots, just one year removed from back-to-back Super Bowl wins, trounced the Packers that day, 35-0. Rodgers replaced Brett Favre and went just 4-of-12 for 32 yards. His combined total of sacks (three) and injuries (broken foot, which sent him to injured reserve) equaled his completions.
“That wasn’t a pretty day,” Rodgers said.
Through the following years, Belichick cemented his status as one of the great coaches in the history of sports. From 2003 through 2021, the Patriots won 10-plus games in all but one season. Belichick added three more Super Bowl titles to get to an unprecedented six.
Rodgers, meanwhile, went from the equivalent of Jordan Love to quarterbacking royalty. While Belichick and Brady hoarded all the Super Bowl rings, Rodgers won four MVPs. Even at age 38 and with an offense that’s in flux, he made all the key plays in Belichick’s eyes on Sunday.
“In the end, Rodgers was too good,” said the 70-year-old Belichick, who might as well become a Packers historian when he retires. “He made some throws that only Rodgers can make. We had pretty good coverage on some of those and he was just too smart, too good, too accurate. In the end, he got us. We couldn’t quite do enough in the other areas to quite offset it. In the end, Aaron got us on too many things. I thought we did a pretty good job on him, but there was just enough for him to take advantage of or make a couple of great throws that we couldn’t quite cover.”
Rodgers and Belichick talked pregame and embraced after the game. Rodgers, now 2-1 vs. Belichick as a starter, wouldn’t share the message but he clearly appreciated the conversations.
“Before the game, he came over and we shared some words,” Rodgers said. “We were in the throwing lines and we had a nice embrace and shared some words back and forth. The truth is always easiest to say. The things I said about Bill last week I meant. The way that he coaches and the success he’s had, he’s a phenomenal leader and always has his guys ready to play. That was some of the sentiments I’m sure I echoed.”
After a dismal first half that included a pick-six, Rodgers was 17-of-24 for 207 yards and two touchdowns during the final 40 minutes, good for a passer rating of 124.8. The Packers might look out of sorts at times, but they are 3-1.
“Rodgers was just too good,” Belichick said. “He is great, great player and he made some great plays. That was the difference in the game.”