GREEN BAY, Wis. — For all that Aaron Rodgers has accomplished in his Hall of Fame career, there’s one thing he has never done: play in an NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field.
Come back next Sunday to see him check that off his list. Rodgers and the top-seeded Green Bay Packers (14-3) will play for a berth in the Super Bowl against either the New Orleans Saints or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And the Pack will do so on their own turf thanks to Saturday’s 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau, where fans — 8,456 of them — were allowed in for the first time all season.
It will be Rodgers’ fifth appearance in the conference title game. His previous four all came on the road. He won his first one — during the 2010 season, at Soldier Field — en route to his lone Super Bowl. He has lost three since, including last season at the San Francisco 49ers in blowout fashion.
It was after last season’s defeat when Rodgers repeated a familiar refrain, saying, “We’ve got to get one of these at home.”
Rodgers made sure of that early and often against the Rams (11-7), who had the NFL’s top-scoring defense in the regular season (18.1 points per game). The Packers bettered that in the first half, with a 19-10 lead at the break. They became the first team this season to score on the Rams this season on each of its first three drives. It also was the fourth straight game the Packers’ top-scoring offense has scored on each of its first three times.
Rodgers threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams, sending Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey into a heated post-play exchange with safety Nick Scott. Rodgers also ran for a touchdown in the first half, giving him a touchdown pass and a touchdown run in the same playoff game for the third time in his career. But it was his first postseason rushing score since that 2010 NFC title game at Chicago.
That was just the start.
When Aaron Jones ripped off a 60-yard run on the opening play of the third quarter to set up his own 1-yard touchdown run, it meant the Packers scored on each of their first five drives in a game for the first time since Week 3 of the 2016 season.
Saturday marked the 22nd time in NFL playoff history that the No. 1 scoring offense and No. 1 scoring defense have faced each other. The Packers’ 32 points was the fourth most in those matchups, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Rodgers kneeled the game away late to “MVP” chants from the crowd.
He completed 23 of 36 passes for 296 yards and two touchdown passes. His 58-yard touchdown pass to Allen Lazard in the fourth quarter was his longest scoring pass in his postseason career.
Rodgers benefited from the best rushing performance — 189 yards — his team has ever given him in a playoff game. The previous high was 147 yards in the 2011 divisional playoff against the New York Giants. But that was a loss in the only other time the Packers were ever the No. 1 seed under Rodgers.
That game denied him an NFC title game at home.
Ten years later, Rodgers would not be denied.