NFL

Rodgers not feeling pressure in Super Bowl pursuit ahead of Brady showdown

By Sports Desk January 20, 2021

Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers insisted there is no additional pressure as the NFL franchise look to end their Super Bowl absence against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rodgers and the top-seeded Packers will host Tom Brady's Buccaneers in Sunday's blockbuster NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field.

Not since winning Super Bowl XLV have the Packers reached the showpiece event – beaten by the San Francisco 49ers in last season's NFC Championship Game, having also lost title deciders in 2017 and 2015.

But MVP favourite Rodgers told reporters on Wednesday: "No more pressure than usual. I think a lot of times the storylines, pressure and those kinds of comments are good stuff for you guys to write about, but I think it starts with the mentality and focus.

"Obviously I put pressure on myself to perform every single week, and I think there's a lot to be said for being able to harness that pressure and fear of failure and focus into a real positive. That's something you learn over the years. But I don't feel any extra pressure going into this one.

"Definitely thankful to be back here. A lot of people didn't think we'd be back here after last season. We got a lot of interesting comments last year about us being the worst 13-3 team that people had seen. Not the same type of comments this [time]. Obviously we're clicking a lot better on offense, I do feel really thankful to be back here, thankful for the chance to be playing."

Rodgers will play a conference title game at home for the first time in his stellar career following the Packers' 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round – his four previous NFC Championship appearances have been on the road.

Green Bay's Rodgers – a Super Bowl champion in the 2010 season – recorded his 12th career playoff game with 250-plus passing yards and two-plus passing touchdowns against the Rams.

According to NFL Research, the only other payers in NFL history with 10-plus such games are Brady (17), Joe Montana (12) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (10).

Rodgers also eclipsed Brett Favre for most playoff completions (439) in Packers history.

Per Stats Perform, Rodgers has thrown for multiple passing TDs in eight consecutive postseason games, tied with Joe Flacco for the longest streak in history. Now with 233 in his career, Rodgers also passed Favre for the most touchdown passes thrown at Lambeau Field (regular and postseason).

Brady and the Buccaneers stand in the way of Rodgers and just his second Super Bowl berth, with many feeling the upcoming encounter could be the latter's best chance at progressing past the NFC Championship for the first time in a decade.

But the 37-year-old Rodgers – a two-time MVP and nine-time Pro Bowler – said: "I'm always just trying to stay present, especially this year as much as anything, and enjoy the moments. I hope there's more opportunities, but I don't know. I mean, I really don't. That stuff is out of my control.

"My future is a beautiful mystery I think. The present is such a gift to be able to stay in the moment and to have gratitude for being in this situation again, and being with the guys and having fans in our stadium and maybe snow in an NFC Championship Game. I'm going to enjoy these moments for sure, and just not worry about what happens down the line."

Related items

  • Barcelona 3-0 Elche: Messi's second-half special cuts gap to Atletico Barcelona 3-0 Elche: Messi's second-half special cuts gap to Atletico

    Barcelona narrowed the gap to LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid to five points as Lionel Messi's second-half double helped them to a 3-0 win over Elche.

    Ronald Koeman's men had missed a chance to take advantage of Atletico's slip-up against Levante at the weekend when they were held at home by struggling Cadiz.

    They were not at their best on Wednesday in a clash with another relegation-threatened side in Elche, but Messi's delightful double and a stylish Jordi Alba effort secured a crucial win.

    Barca remain third in the table having played a game more than Atletico, whose lead over second-placed Real Madrid is just three points.

    Francisco Trincao forced Edgar Badia into a close-range save in the second minute and, after Lucas Boye had spurned a gilt-edged chance at the other end, the Portugal international was denied a stunning goal by the Elche goalkeeper.

    Trincao jinked past two Elche defenders after latching on to a pass from Messi, only to see Badia produce a fine diving save with his left hand.

    Badia was required again to keep out Frenkie de Jong's header from a floated Messi free-kick, the frustration clear among Koeman and his players as parity was preserved.

    That parity lasted just three minutes into the second half, Messi's shot squirming into the net despite Badia getting a hand to it following a superb flicked return pass from Martin Braithwaite.

    Messi's second was similarly aesthetically pleasing, De Jong finding him at the end of the slaloming run before the Argentine delicately dinked the ball over Badia.

    And the game was put beyond any doubt in the 73rd minute when Braithwaite nodded Messi's excellent cross-field ball into the path of Alba to dispatch with an acrobatic effort.

    The scoreline could have been made more emphatic late on, but substitute Antoine Griezmann cracked the crossbar from Sergino Dest's low cross.

  • Tottenham 4-0 Wolfsberger (8-1 agg): Sensational Alli goal sets up cruise into last 16 Tottenham 4-0 Wolfsberger (8-1 agg): Sensational Alli goal sets up cruise into last 16

    A spectacular goal from Dele Alli helped Tottenham to a 4-0 win over Wolfsberger on Thursday that secured their place in the last 16 of the Europa League.

    Alli scored a stunning bicycle kick in the first half before setting up Carlos Vinicius and substitute Gareth Bale in the second as Jose Mourinho's side eased to an 8-1 aggregate victory.

    Spurs' third win in nine games in all competitions, capped by a second from Vinicius, was a routine but welcome one, particularly for Mourinho, who was able to rest stars including Harry Kane and Son Heung-min as he looks to put together a string of results and ease some of the speculation over his future.

    Spurs have made something of a habit of starting well this season – in fact, no Premier League team can match their tally of 11 goals in the first 10 minutes of matches in all competitions – but they have rarely broken the deadlock with such a flourish.

    Alli played the ball out wide to Matt Doherty, brought down his cross and sent a sublime overhead kick out of the reach of goalkeeper Manuel Kuttin and into the left-hand corner.

    Vinicius should have made it 2-0 before the break after rounding Kuttin, but the covering Gustav Henriksson did superbly to clear the striker's effort off the line.

    He made no mistake early in the second half, though nodding in Alli's deep cross shortly after Eric Dier had been fortunate to escape punishment for taking out Cheikhou Dieng when the forward was through on Joe Hart's goal.

    Spurs got their 100th Europa League goal 17 minutes from time, Bale sweeping an emphatic finish high into the net from Alli's pass after Harry Winks had pressed Wolfsberger into giving the ball away in their own half.

    Mourinho handed debuts to Marcel Lavinier and Nile John, while 16-year-old Dane Scarlett was given more first-team experience, the latter setting up Vinicius to blast home his second and Spurs' fourth with seven minutes left.

     

    What does it mean? Real work starts now for Mourinho

    Defeat at this stage of the competition would have piled further pressure onto Mourinho, although their progress looked almost certain after that first-leg win.

    As soon as Alli's magical opening goal effectively killed off any lingering Wolfsberger hopes, Spurs' focus will naturally have drifted towards a key few weeks in their season.

    With games against Burnley, Fulham and Crystal Palace up next, this is the chance for Mourinho's men to build some momentum before the north London derby on March 14.

    Alli emulates Giroud to give Mourinho food for thought

    Not willing to be outdone by a London rival, Alli followed Olivier Giroud's overhead kick for Chelsea against Atletico Madrid with a quite superb version of his own to open the scoring.

    It was his first goal since December and the only time he has scored in a game he started for the club since last March. Given he then assisted the next two goals, perhaps it could be a step on the road to redemption in the eyes of the man in charge.

    Spurs cruise despite flat Dier

    This was a game played mostly at a pedestrian pace, but Dier had one or two uneasy moments at the heart of the defence.

    He was lucky not even to concede a foul for bringing down Dieng at 1-0 and lost Dejan Joveljic twice thereafter to give Wolfsberger some half-chances.

    What's next?

    Spurs host Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday, when Wolfsberger are also back in league action at home to Altach.

  • Steelers owner expects Roethlisberger back on re-worked deal Steelers owner expects Roethlisberger back on re-worked deal

    Ben Roethlisberger has publicly stated he would like to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021. The team has now confirmed the feeling is mutual.

    Steelers president Art Rooney II issued a statement on Wednesday indicating the team's desire to have Roethlisberger back for an 18th season with the franchise, adding that they will soon enter negotiations to adjust the longtime quarterback's contract. 

    "Ben Roethlisberger and I met [Tuesday] morning and we had a productive meeting. We were able to discuss a lot of things that relate to where we are and where we want to go," Rooney stated.

    "Ben assured me that he is committed to coming back to help us win, and I told Ben that we would like to have him back to win a championship. We both understand that the next step is to work out Ben's contract situation.

    "We owe it to him to have a conversation about how he wants to end his career, and we intend to that."

    Rooney's remarks come one day after Roethlisberger's agent, Ryan Tollner, told NFL.com that the Steelers are open to his client's return on a renegotiated contract. The two-time Super Bowl champion carries a $41.25 million cap hit for 2021, the highest of any player, with the salary cap expected to decrease due to revenue lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    "As we've shared since the season ended, we are happy to creatively adjust his contract to help them build the best team possible," Tollner said. 

    Roethlisberger turns 39 in March and has drawn widespread speculation about his future due to his advanced age and Pittsburgh's current lack of salary cap flexibility, as well as a decline in play during the second half of a 2020 season that ended with a disappointing home loss to the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Wild Card Playoff round.

    Making a successful comeback from a career-threatening elbow injury that limited him to two games in 2019, Roethlisberger threw for 22 touchdowns and only four interceptions while producing a 103.0 passer rating through his first nine starts of last season – all Pittsburgh wins.

    The six-time Pro Bowler was intercepted six times and had an 83.2 rating over his next six starts, however, as the Steelers went 3-3 and eventually dropped to the AFC's No. 3 playoff seed. 

    Roethlisberger did set an NFL postseason record with 47 completions while throwing for 501 yards and four touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s lone playoff game, but was picked off four times as the Steelers were dealt a 48-37 loss to the rival Browns.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.