The scene that played out 137 days prior at CenturyLink Field dropped jaws.
There was Aaron Rodgers, arguably the pre-eminent quarterback in the National Football League, spending the entirety of the Green Bay Packers’ 36-16 season opening loss to the reigning Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks avoiding Richard Sherman, arguably the NFL’s pre-eminent cornerback.
“He’s a great player,” Rodgers said of Sherman on his radio show earlier this wee. “That’s why he gets paid the way he does and he has the reputation that he does. He’s a great cover guy. He’s very intelligent. He’s got great ball skills. He’s got very good time with his technique and he knows how to cover people.
“You just have to play your game but if he’s locking his guy down, he’s probably not going to get a lot of passes thrown his way. You watch the film and it’s not like the guy he was guarding was open.”
The Rodgers-Sherman matchup will be the game-within-Sunday’s NFC Championship Game between the Packers and Seahawks.
A MVP-candidate, Rodgers threw for 4,381 yards and 38 touchdowns in the regular season, while Sherman had four interceptions and eight pass defensed.
“You have a ton of respect for him,” Rodgers said. “Look at the numbers, they don’t lie. Not a lot of guys catch passes on his side [of the field], and for the amount of times he’s targeted, his interception totals are very impressive.”
The play of Rodgers and Sherman coincides with the dominant performances of their respective units. Seattle had the league’s best defense, ranked first in total yards allowed per game (267.1) and passing yards allowed (185.6), while ranked third with 81.5 rushing yards.
“You play it the way you always play it,” Rodgers said. “You look for matchups and you go through your progressions, and you throw it to the guy who’s most open.
The Packers’ 386.1 yards per game was sixth-most in the NFL in the regular season. Delving further, Green Bay ranked eighth in the league with 266.3 passing yards, and the Packers’ 119.8 rushing yards were 11th most in the NFL.
“In my mind,” Sherman said of Rodgers in an interview with MMQB,” He’s the MVP.”
You can follow NHL writer Denis Gorman on Twitter at @DenisGorman