If the name of the game was not called “football,” it would be called “quarterback.”
And so it is that this weekend’s conference championship games revolve around the man taking the snap, the man throwing the passes, the man calling the audibles.
This weekend is mainly about Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger. They are the players in the spotlights and the headlines. And if their teams are going to the Super Bowl, they will lead the way.
Consider this: Rodgers of Green Bay led the NFL in touchdown passes this year with 40. But Atlanta’s Ryan was second with 38. Pittsburgh’s Roethlisberger, who missed two games with an injury, was sixth with 29. New England’s Brady was suspended for four games, but finished tied for seventh with 28.
In other words, cornerbacks beware.
It is those quarterbacks who have their teams hot. Both New England and Pittsburgh won their last seven regular season games. Green Bay won its last six and Atlanta its last four.
In their histories, Brady has won the Super Bowl four times. Roethlisberger has won it twice and Rodgers once.
“It’s really about having a team that can be hot at the right time,” Ryan said, “and then have good fortune with health, and then win the close games.”
Count Brady among the fans of Rodgers.
“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.”
The Packers-Falcons is on at 3:05 on Fox, and the Patriots-Steelers follows at 6:40 on CBS.