Packers QB Aaron Rodgers – Postgame Press Conference

(on facing Tom Brady or Drew Brees at home with a chance to go to the Super Bowl)
“To be honest I’m still reveling in this one. There’s a lot of time to think about those things. My initial reaction is those guys are obviously great, great players, have been for a long time. It’ll be, I don’t know if the oldest, but combined age of the starting quarterbacks ever to be out there for the (NFC) championship. I’m sure you guys will figure that out at some point and write something about it, but I’m just so happy for our guys. I’m definitely a little emotional just thinking about what we’ve been through. It got me emotional with the crowd out there today. I just feel really happy about everything that happened today. We’ll have plenty of time to talk about next week’s opponent after tomorrow and into Tuesday and Wednesday. I look forward to having a conversation when that time comes.”

(on having fans this week and next week and hearing the chants of MVP)
“Oh man, talk about just pure joy running down that tunnel. You know we’ve had a few hundred (fans) for a couple games, but it felt like 50,000 when we ran out of the tunnel, it really did. It was such a special moment. I forgot how much I truly, truly miss having a crowd there, and obviously that wasn’t a normal crowd like last year with a Seattle type of crowd. It felt like 50, 60,000, it really did. It’s hard to put into words how special that feeling is, but you can feel it. It’s just so palpable. You can feel the energy in the stadium. It’s just different. It’s different playing in front of a crowd, it really is. It’s just a little more special and obviously more sweet. I was joking with the guys in the huddle. There was a time I played NBA2K like in the offseason – the video game – and what happens a lot of times is late in games, if like you’re a stud player for the game that has kind of had a good game and gets to the free throw line, they’ll chant ‘MVP,’ so I used to tease my buddy Popeye, I’d be feeding like Drew Gooden or Mark Eaton, you know some random, obscure 80s or 90s or 70s basketball player and try to get him to score 40 or 50 in a game and then always just kind of, late in the 4th (quarter) they get a foul and you just kind of hear that MVP chant. It was just something special in those moments and tonight I was just feeling what that felt like, just how sweet and special that chant is. I’ve heard it a few times over the years, but every time it kind of gets you. It’s really, really special.

(on the play of the offensive line in one word)
“Stellar. That’s a good word because it’s rooted in star and they were the stars of the game tonight. I don’t know if I got touched hardly at all the entire night, other than scrambles getting outside the pocket. That was a fantastic performance by them. They dominated the line of scrimmage. We had a great plan, we really did when it came down to it, and Matty (LaFleur) was dialing up some really good stuff. The beauty in the way things came together was it started with the run game, as a lot of our stuff has. But we really ran the ball efficiently (and) we tack on (Aaron) Jonesy breaking that big one. But the play of the game obviously, to put it away, was all about the run and things looking the same and Allen (Lazard) made a beautiful catch. I threw it probably a tad bit more inside than I wanted to, but it was the same play that we ran earlier in the game where he actually went outside of the guy and I threw it a little bit flat, and just couldn’t bring it down. Kudos to Matt for coming back to it. Great situation. There was an interesting, obviously, sequence of plays there. We have a nice run, like second, third, fourth effort by Jonesy, then we have a fumble, which I’m fortunate enough to be right in the mix of it, then we come back and hit an important third down, and then obviously the touchdown. So just a beautiful combination of plays, sequence of plays by Matt and then we made the most of it. I know I’m kind of drawing on and on in this answer, but there were times where I really felt like we could have changed the fortunes of the game. We come out in the second half and score and if we hit that two-point conversion, we’re up three scores. The next drive – we had scored at that point on five straight drives – the next drive I had Quez (Marques Valdez-Scantling) and just totally missed the throw, which would have put us up at that point 32-10, and then again you’re really downhill up three scores. But they got back in the game and then when we had to have a drive, like we have many times this year, we came up with some big plays and put the game away.”

(on the touchdown pass to Allen Lazard)
“I thought the communication all night was great, especially between Matty (LaFleur) and I. We talked about repeating that call because it didn’t really look like what we were trying to run, because the guy jumped so hard Allen (Lazard) kind of went around him. So we talked about going back to it. We’d been running duo, or the inside zone there, effectively most of the night and it was just hard action off of that, so when the play was called I was thinking touchdown for sure. I came up off the fake, I really tried to sell it, but I came up off the fake and saw Allen digging, so I knew kind of both guys had jumped it. Like I said, I did throw it a little more inside than I wanted to and he made a really nice catch, kept his feet, and put that thing away. That was pretty special.”

(on the feeling before and after the Lazard touchdown)
“That’s the beauty in momentum. I don’t feel like we were really sputtering, per se. The previous drive we had a few opportunities to score. I had Quez (MVS) wide open, Allen (Lazard) couldn’t come down with that one ball. We had definitely some chances there and then the next drive we just didn’t execute that 3rd down. So I don’t feel like we were sputtering, but we needed a couple plays and like I said, it was a crazy kind of sequence leading up to that with a great run by (Aaron) Jonesy, a fumble and then a little swing out to Quez and we held our blocking, he kind of breaks a tackle and gets a first down. That was a really important play when it comes down to it. That’s what we always talk about. You don’t know what the play is going to be that’s going to be the most important play of the game. Sometimes it can by a 4-yard play. It gets us another first down, set of downs, and we can come back and hit Allen to put us up two scores. But there were a lot of those little plays that made a big difference in the game.”

(on what it means to him to get to play at Lambeau next week)
“It means a lot and Jordy (Nelson) and I talked about it years ago. I’ve had a lot of starts in this league without being able to be a part of hosting an NFC Championship. I remember what it felt like in 2007, especially after we watched the Giants beat Dallas. Us and Dallas, we thought, were the two best teams in the NFC that year. The Giants beat them, we felt really good about hosting and our chances. That was a really, really cold game for sure. Hopefully it’s a little colder than it was tonight, but the fans were special, the energy was special tonight and there is a home-field advantage, and just the fact that we get to host – I can’t say sleep in our bed – because there’s still this antiquated idea of staying in a hotel the night before the game instead of your warm, cozy, six-night a week bed. I know there’s Covid involved in that, but … I am still salty about that antiquated idea. But it is meaningful to have fans at the game. Hopefully we can get even more if this worked out. I’m sure Mark (Murphy) will have some sort of announcement to the team at some point the next few days, but it will be exciting to enjoy this tonight, to celebrate and to watch the game tomorrow and know that whoever wins is coming to our place.”

(on Aaron Jones’ long run to start the second half and if they knew Aaron Donald wasn’t in the game)
“I actually didn’t know that he wasn’t in the game. We talked at halftime about starting the second half with that play, and I felt good about it. The line was blocking really well and we felt really good about the inside zone runs the entire game. I had a great view of the run. Some of those runs in the first half I felt like the backs were maybe not pressing enough and cutting back a little quick, but on that one he just knifed and hit that and I saw him take off and I was getting pretty excited. Then he made a guy miss and stiff armed (another guy). That was pretty special.”

(on the offensive game plan today using the run so efficiently)
“I think a lot of it was predicated on their style of defense. They play a lot of shell coverage. They play a lot of two-high quarters. Two to one side and quarters on the other. That’s their kind of base defense and really what they do, and I think their defensive coordinator (Brandon Staley) is a fantastic coach, I really do. The expansion of what I’ve seen with Vic Fangio over the years is really, really good. He does things with their front that mixes them up where he puts (Aaron) Donald in an idea where he can single him up based on the defensive personnel that he plays. But in that style of defense, they do play shell on the back end and you have to run the ball. They almost dare you to stick with it, and we felt really good about sticking with the run and knowing that there might be some dinking and dunking at times and throwing some run solutions out that we would have some opportunities into the game where after we established the run to take some shots down the field. We stayed patient. The guys were patient. Like I said we missed a couple shots at times, but I really felt like Matt (LaFleur) was dialing up some really good stuff tonight. It started with the run and that was the plan the entire game. When you have a team that plays two-high and dares you to run and makes you go the length of the field to score, we had to do that and we might have to do that next week as well.”

(on the offensive game plan and seeing how effective it was)
“There are times in every season where there are some weeks when you are going through the process on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and you think ‘I don’t know about this plan’ and then you go out and just dominate. And then there’s sometimes you feel amazing about the plan and things maybe don’t work out as well as you think. This was one of those weeks where we were working through it Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and it felt like it just got fine tuned and fine tuned even more each day. That’s the beauty of him (Matt LaFleur) and his style and the staff that we have is that there is no stone left unturned. Sometimes there’s a little TMI involved, but most of the time the information really helps and I felt like we were really ready to play and Matty had a really good sequence that he went with and had some really good runs and had some really good stuff in the red zone and when it came down to it we executed at times when things maybe didn’t look perfect, and we made some plays.”

(on Aaron Donald’s personal foul penalty and if he could sense frustration from their defense)
“Really not in the first quarter (but) I felt like there was frustration building for sure because our plan was pretty simple. We repeated so many calls tonight. Ran kind of right at them on a lot of plays. It was mostly inside zone stuff the entire game. There was some frustration for sure. They didn’t pressure maybe as much as I thought they would. Their pressure stats will include a five-man rush, but most of their fronts was that five bigs look. There wasn’t a lot of second-level pressure and I’m not sure if that was the plan coming in, but we did do a good job of handling the line of scrimmage and there was some frustration for sure. I didn’t know what was going on (with Donald’s penalty) I kind of turned and saw it late and saw Donald grab (Elgton Jenkins’) facemask and when I saw the flag come out I was trying to get our guys not to retaliate because it looked like we were probably going to get that one.”

(on if this team has a feeling of destiny to it)

“I think that’s an interesting question. I really feel like we have the ability to manifest the things we desire in our own lives through our spoken word and our intentions. That’s kind of the direction that I really tried to stay on this year. Me being weary about my moods and what I was thinking about and my perspective and trying to be as positive as possible and continue to try to live with an attitude of gratitude and that’s what I talk about a lot in these Zooms is just how thankful I am to be in this opportunity. To be the starting quarterback here. To be relied upon for my plan and my leadership and my presence and my daily preparation. There’s no greater feeling. This is such a special honor. I think it’s one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to lead this team. To be counted on by my teammates to bring, not just my physical play, but my presence, my emotions, my words and I strongly believe in speaking things to life. We’ve been talking a lot about how a positive wave can be so powerful. I feel like we have that wave building and building and building and it’s kind of been back boned by so many great people. Like Big Dawg (Mercedes Lewis), who won’t show up in the stat sheet a whole lot, but he is such a special human. And the greatest, in my opinion, blocking tight end, definitely of his generation. But what he brings from a personal standpoint, you can’t quantify that. You really can’t. Can’t put a stat on that, but you can feel it. It’s palpable. It’s tangible. You can really reach out and touch that energy and that positivity and that love that he has for the guys and myself. He’s such a support beam. I can lean on him. He’s like a big oak tree. He’s taking care of all of us. And there’s a lot of guys who have brought special energy. I think about Jah (Jaire Alexander) and the kind of person he is. The Aquarius. There’s a beauty in the diversity of the team that we have and the personality, and I’m thankful for the guys and I’m thankful for this opportunity to still be here and still be the guy and excited about what we can accomplish together.”