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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Aaron Rodgers vs. Matt Ryan, Tom Brady vs. Ben Roethlisberger: Wow, what a Championship Sunday!

Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers signals an

Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers signals an audible against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. Credit: Getty Images / Dilip Vishwanat

No matter which team you root for or play for, who doesn’t appreciate the incredible playmaking talents of Aaron Rodgers? He added yet another magical moment to a long list of them in Sunday’s thrilling 34-31 win over the Cowboys.

Even the greatest quarterback in NFL history loves watching Rodgers and appreciates how amazing he has been. From one No. 12 to another, Rodgers just might be the greatest ever, according to the man widely recognized as having that designation.

“I think [Rodgers] does things that no one in the league has ever done,” the Patriots’ Tom Brady said Monday on WEEI in Boston. “Some of the plays he makes are just phenomenal.”

In the Packers’ 38-13 trouncing of the Giants in the NFC wild-card round, Rodgers hit Randall Cobb with a 42-yard Hail Mary to end the first half. With the stakes raised and the moment even bigger Sunday, he came up with an equally spectacular play, hitting Jared Cook for 36 yards along the left sideline with three seconds left in regulation. The righthanded Rodgers rolled to his left and threw across his body to Cook, who barely managed to keep his feet inbounds. The play set up Mason Crosby’s winning 51-yard field goal.

“I think he makes everything look so simple because he has such an efficient delivery,” said Brady, who had some spotty moments in an AFC divisional-round win over the Texans on Saturday night, throwing two interceptions to match his regular-season total. “Everything looks real ly effortless with him, which is the amazing part. He’s definitely working hard, but he’s making hard look easy. The velocity of the ball. The placement of the ball. He’s just an incredible player. I love watching his tape, admiring the things he can do, because I can’t do many of those things.”

The ultimate compliment? “Whenever he’s on,” Brady said, “I usually stay up and watch.”

Rodgers’ performance sent the Pack to Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Falcons. Brady will face the Steelers in the AFC title game at Gillette Stadium that night.

There could be no better weekend for playoff football, featuring the game’s most dynamic quarterbacks. It’s Rodgers against Matt Ryan, having what many consider an MVP season. It’s the iconic Brady against Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger.

Rodgers has led the Packers to eight straight wins, including playoffs. Ryan is having a career year, throwing 38 TD passes and only seven interceptions before dominating the Seahawks on Saturday. As it turns out, that wasn’t the last game at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons would have been on the road had the Cowboys won, so this will be the send-off. And what a way to go out: two-time MVP Rodgers against Ryan, hoping to wipe away past playoff disappointments by bringing the Falcons their first Super Bowl trophy.

“We’re still going, and that’s the exciting part,” Ryan said after throwing for three TDs in a 36-20 win over Seattle. “This is why you work hard, why you put in all the time during the offseason, during the summer.”

Even though it’s the biggest game of Ryan’s life, he said there will be no added pressure or thinking about his legacy. “When you’re playing, you’re focused on trying to do your best this week, and that’s where my mindset has been all year,” he said. “If you start thinking about other things, it distracts you from what’s important.”

Roethlisberger vs. Brady figures to be another classic. Although Brady has been in the league since 2000 and Roethlisberger since 2004, this will be only their second postseason meeting. In Roethlisberger’s rookie season, the Patriots beat him in the AFC title game, 41-27.

He wasn’t at his best in Sunday’s 18-16 win at Arrowhead Stadium, as the Steelers settled for six field goals and held off a late Chiefs rally. But Roethlisberger’s resume carries plenty of weight, and he’s aiming for his own piece of history. He can become only the fifth quarterback with at least three Super Bowl wins, joining Brady (four), Joe Montana (four), Terry Bradshaw (four) and Troy Aikman (three).

Brady will be looking to add to his legacy and be alone at the top of that list.



What a Sunday of football we’re about to see.

The postseason records for the four starting QBs who have reached the conference championship games:


QB, Team W-L Comp. % TDs INTs Rating

Ben Roethlisberger, Pitt. 13-6 62.0 24 22 84.3

Tom Brady, NE 23-9 61.9 58 30 87.4

Matt Ryan, Atl. 2-4 66.9 12 7 91.9

Aaron Rodgers, GB 9-6 63.8 33 9 100.1

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