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Rodgers shining in post-Favre era.
By Charean Williams
It didn’t take Aaron Rodgers long to make Packers fans forget Brett Favre. With a Super Bowl victory, Rodgers can do what Favre did only once in 16 seasons in Green Bay.
For all of his games and all of his greatness, Favre’s Super Bowl record was only 1-1.
Rodgers has validated the Packers’ decision to move on without Favre after the 2007 season. This season, Rodgers not only won his first playoff game but three of them in getting Green Bay to the Super Bowl.
“Aaron Rodgers, in my opinion, is just going lights out,” Packers Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr said. “Unbelievable how he’s played this year. He may be beyond that [next] level. He may have gone up a couple of levels.”
Rodgers completed 49-of-63 passes for 546 yards with six touchdowns, no interceptions and a 134.5 passer rating in the Packers’ first two playoff games. He was only 17-of-30 for 244 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and a 55.4 passer rating against the Bears in the NFC Championship Game, but the Packers found a way to win.
“I wanted to be here [in the Super Bowl],” Rodgers said. “I think one of the advantages of waiting [under Favre instead of starting right away] is when I was ready to play, we were coming off an NFC Championship season. Obviously, we struggled that next year, in my first season starting. But we had the pieces in place, and we’ve added to that to give us an opportunity to be here.”
Adams makes an impression
Flozell Adams has played in 198 games, 194 as a starter. Yet, he has never played in a Super Bowl.
While many of the Steelers already have won a Super Bowl, or two, Adams is working on his first.
“It was a goal of mine to make the Super Bowl no matter what team I was with,” Adams said. “Fortunately, it’s happened to me this year. Going through all the years, you get totally disappointed, and you’re the one sitting at home watching the playoffs on TV. Watching other guys that you beat, just makes you want to work harder.”
Adams was a fixture at left tackle for 12 seasons in Dallas. But they released him before the start of the 2010 season. He signed with the Steelers and moved to right tackle.
He has made an impression on his Steelers teammates.
The Steelers’ offensive linemen honored Adams by wearing his Michigan State jersey on the team charter to DFW on Monday.
“Flozell is a joy to be around,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “It might sound funny, because he doesn’t always have a great disposition, but we enjoy that about him, too.”
The Steelers can win their seventh title at Cowboys Stadium. It would be special, but more special for Adams.
“It would be for Flozell Adams,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “I want it for him. I think it would be awesome. I know that Steelers fans and people are a little extra excited because of the old traditions and rivalries and the teams before, but for me, it’s about trying to win one for him at Cowboys Stadium.”
It’s the beard
It’s no secret why the Steelers are here. It has nothing to do with their defense, or their running game or Big Ben. It’s the beard.
Brett Keisel’s beard has taken on a life of its own.
The Pro Bowl defensive end started letting it grow in June. He vowed not to cut it until the Steelers were eliminated. They’re still playing, and Keisel’s beard is an estimated four inches long now.
“It’s special,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “I really don’t know what else to say about it. The beard has its own Twitter page. It’s got a Myspace page. It’s got a Facebook page, and it’s got its own T-shirt, so I mean, it’s its own entity. He hides everything in there. We go hunting and he hides his decoys in there.”
Keisel’s wife, Sarah, bought him a razor for Christmas. The beard will go after the Super Bowl, he hopes with some sort of fund-raiser for charity.
But he and the Steelers need the beard for one more game.
“The beard is why we’re here,” Keisel said. “It’s unleashed Super Bowl powers on our whole team, and hopefully it can win us one more.”
Kuhn wants another one
Fullback John Kuhn never wears his Super Bowl ring. The only Packers’ player with a ring, Kuhn keeps it in a safe at home.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Kuhn said. “It’s very valuable and important to me and precious, but I want to earn one on the field.”
When the Steelers won Super Bowl XL to end the 2005 season, Kuhn watched from the sideline. He was on Pittsburgh’s practice squad but still was awarded a ring.
He signed with the Packers in 2007 and now has a chance to beat his old team.
“I’m just thankful to be here with the Packers playing in the Super Bowl,” said Kuhn, who had six touchdowns this season. “The fact that it’s the Steelers [makes it even better]. It could be anybody, and it would be just as big, but I like the fact that we’re going against them. That’s just like a little added bonus.”
Remember Antonio Brown
Antonio Brown was hardly a household name before the postseason started. Inactive for most of the first half of the season, Brown had only 16 catches for 167 yards during the regular season. (He did return a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown against the Titans in Week 2.)
But the rookie has made a name for himself in the postseason.
He had a 58-yard reception on third-and-19 with less than two minutes remaining to set up the Steelers’ game-winning touchdown against the Ravens in the divisional round. In the AFC Championship Game, his 14-yard catch after the two-minute warning allowed the Steelers to run out the clock on the Jets.
“I always knew I was capable,” said Brown, a sixth-round pick from Central Michigan. “I try to prepare my mind for every phase of the game. Take my mind through every circumstance and every situation that I could be part of. I am thankful for the opportunity that came just in time.”