For most of the living, breathing world, Dec. 12, 2012 represents nothing more than the last repeating-number date of this century. Just a regular day with an interesting happenstance tied in.
Not so in the state of Wisconsin.
Thanks to a resolution passed by the state legislature earlier in the year, 12/12/12 has been dubbed “Aaron Rodgers Day,” in recognition of the Green Bay Packers’ MVP and Super Bowl winning quarterback.
To help celebrate Aaron Rodgers Day, we’ve put together a list of Rodgers’ 12 best games as the Packers quarterback for your viewing enjoyment:
--at Dallas, Nov. 2007: The Grand Entrance
Rodgers replaces an injured Brett Favre and nearly rallies the Packers back from a 27-10 deficit. He pulls Green Bay to within a score on two different opportunities (27-24, 34-27) but is unable to get the Packers past the Cowboys. Rodgers finishes the game 18 of 26 passing for 201 yards and one score. The breakout performance sets the stage for the events of the next summer.
–Minnesota, Sept. 2008: First Start, First Win
In the first game in Green Bay without Favre as the starting quarterback since Sept. 20, 1992, Rodgers calmly led the Packers to a 24-19 win over the rival Vikings. He hit Greg Jennings on a 56-yard bomb on the third series, which Rodgers later capped off with an acrobatic 1-yard touchdown pass to fullback Korey Hall. With just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Rodgers snuck in a 1-yard score that put the final nail in his first ever win as the Packers starting quarterback.
–at Arizona, Jan. 2010: Playoff Shootout
Despite throwing an interception on his first ever playoff attempt, Rodgers rallied to help stage one of the best postseason games in recent NFL history. Trailing 31-10 early in the second half, Rodgers threw four touchdown passes and helped rally the Packers to a 45-45 tie at the end of regulation. On the first series of overtime, Rodgers missed a streaking Jennings that would have ended the game in one throw. Two plays later, the game was over. Arizona scooped up a strip sack and returned it for a touchdown to stun Rodgers and the Packers. Rodgers’ 423 passing yards are still a franchise playoff record.
–Minnesota, Oct. 2010: Slaying the Demon, Reviving the Season
Rodgers’ stats weren’t out of this world (295 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions), but getting a 28-24 win over the Favre-led Vikings helped exorcise his demon (Favre won both meetings in 2009) and revive the Packers’ fading 2010 season (the Packers entered the game 3-3). Green Bay would go on to win 11 of its next 13 games, including the playoffs. Had Favre bested Rodgers that October night, who knows how that season ends up.
–at Minnesota, Nov. 2010: Turning the Page
Over one afternoon’s work in Minnesota, Rodgers helped turn the page on an ugly chapter in Packers history. Thanks to a 31-3 beat down of the Vikings, in which Rodgers threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns, Green Bay was able to finish off the former legend playing in rival colors. At 3-7, the Favre era in Minnesota all but ended. Rodgers was just getting started.
–at Atlanta, Nov. 2010: Setting the Stage
The Packers may not have won the first meeting with the Falcons in 2010, but Rodgers’ performance—especially late—helped set the stage for what would become his finest hour. Down 17-10 late in the fourth quarter, Rodgers drove the Packers the length of the field. Facing fourth down in the red zone, Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson on what remains one of the quarterback’s best-ever throws. Atlanta would later triumph in overtime, but the wheels were already in motion for what the postseason would hold.
–at Atlanta, Jan. 2011: The Assault on Atlanta
Rodgers still calls his slicing and dicing of the Falcons in the NFC Divisional Round the best game of his NFL career. Given the numbers, it’d be hard to argue that suggestion. Escaping the pocket with Houdini-like success, Rodgers completed 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns, plus another rushing score. By the time triple zeros hit the Georgia Dome clock, Green Bay was celebrating a 48-21 thrashing of the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Rodgers will have a hard time topping his performance that January night in Atlanta.
–Super Bowl XLV vs. Pittsburgh, Feb. 2011: MVP Says ‘Ring Me’
Facing the NFL’s No. 1 defense, Rodgers threw for over 300 yards and three scores to help the Packers win their 13th NFL championship. He was named Super Bowl MVP for his efforts. While his three touchdowns were all big plays, Rodgers’ dart to Jennings down the seam in the fourth quarter is probably the best throw of his career. On the biggest stage, Rodgers shined the brightest.
–Denver, Oct. 2011: Start of Something Special
By the time Rodgers was done tormenting the Broncos defense, we knew the 2011 season could be something special for both Rodgers and the Packers offense. In throwing for 408 yards and four scores and running for 36 and two more, Rodgers kept the Packers undefeated with a 49-23 win. Rodgers would finish the 2011 season with 45 touchdowns and just six interceptions, while the Packers would score the most points in franchise history.
–at New York, Dec. 2011: Late Drive Wins Shootout
Rodgers and the eventual Super Bowl champions engaged in one of the 2011 season’s best games. Eli Manning and Rodgers combined to throw for over 700 yards and seven touchdowns, but it was the Packers who got the best of the outcome on this day. Given the ball last and with the score tied, Rodgers raced the Packers down the field to set up a game-winning kick. Mason Crosby split the uprights at the New Meadowlands, and Green Bay remained undefeated 12 games in.
–Chicago, Dec. 2011: Raining Down Touchdowns on Christmas Night
Playing on Christmas for the first time in his NFL career, Rodgers put on his best Santa Claus impression with the football. A then career-high five touchdown passes later, including two each to James Jones and Jordy Nelson, Rodgers and the Packers won their 14th regular-season game for the first time in franchise history.
–at Houston, Oct. 2012: Rising from the Ashes, A Career Day Begins
Punched to the canvas a week prior by the Indianapolis Colts, Rodgers and the Packers were back on their feet and ready to throw a haymaker or two of their own during this nationally televised bout. Despite being 5-0 and playing at home, the Texans had no answer for Rodgers. Just 37 attempts for Rodgers resulted in 338 yards and a career-high six touchdown passes. At 3-3, the Packers had cleared the cobwebs and were ready to make a run.
What’s your favorite Aaron Rodgers game or memory? Share in the comments section below.
Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at email@example.com.