With all due respect to J.J. Watt, Aaron Rodgers locked up the MVP yesterday evening at Lambeau Field with his Willis Reed like performance coming back out of the tunnel to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 30-20 victory over the Detroit Lions. Smart NFL observers already knew Rodgers was the most valuable player in the NFL, but yesterday should have confirmed it for those who did not.

It was actually better than the Willis Reed game because what people forget about that 1970 NBA Finals Game 7 is that Reed only scored four points on his first two shot attempts after hobbling out of the tunnel when nobody expected him to play. Rodgers actually won the game for the Packers.

Rodgers completed 17 of his 22 passes for 226 yards and two touchdown for a 139.6 passer rating to lead the Packers to the NFC North division crown, the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first round bye. After stepping up in the pocket for his first touchdown pass to Cobb to give the Packers a 14-0 lead, Rodgers felt more pain in his calf and went down. “Bang the drum all day” stopped playing and Lambeau Field was silent pondering whether the season was over.

“It’s clearly an MVP performance — another MVP performance — by Aaron Rodgers,” coach Mike McCarthy said.

“The guy could have easily thrown in the towel because that’s a tough Detroit defense, we are already in the playoffs. But he didn’t,” defensive lineman Mike Daniels said. “If there was a word of a greater magnitude than respect, that’s what I have for Aaron because he laid it out on the line for his brothers and we had to respond. We had to respond.

Rodgers clearly added to his legend yesterday. All the nonsense about him not being tough enough or clutch enough Can be thrown right into the garbage where it came from.

It looked like no chance in hell Rodgers would be able to be back in this game after being carted off the field and the playoffs were a big question if Green Bay was forced to play next week. Detroit capitalized immediately with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson after a Brad Jones special– a huge penalty extending a drive.

Matt Flynn took the Packers nowhere on their first possession of the second half, and Detroit tied the game on their ensuing drive after a 11-play, 51-yard touchdown drive that ended in another Johnson touchdown. The defense fell apart without the comfort of Rodgers on the other side just like it did last year. Eddie Lacy was not going to be able to do it by himself against the NFL’s top ranked run defense. The Packers had no chance without Rodgers returning.

Mike McCarthy went to the same quick passing game that he went to in Tampa Bay and Rodgers was masterful again. The Packers should use more of this even when Rodgers is fully healthy. Sure, him getting outside the pocket and making big throws down the field is fun, but sometimes they run too many deep routes into Cover-2 looks.

When Rodgers returned he immediately took the Packers right down the field with two big passes to Cobb, with the second one being a 13-yard touchdown. After that you got the feeling that this was a special moment, and Rodgers wasn’t going to let the team lose.

After a Joique Bell fumble Rodgers had a short field to work with and took advantage. Richard Rodgers made a big third-and-4 catch in contested traffic and had two other catches on the series. The Packers got down to the one-yard line when Rodgers — bad calf and all — quick snapped the ball on a quarterback sneak to get the touchdown and the 28-14 lead.

Green Bay was about to bet blown out in their own building — a place that they were undefeated and averaging over 40 points per game with Rodgers at the helm. If Rodgers had been 100 percent healthy and stayed in the whole game the Packers probably blow the Lions out. There is no way you can argue Watt makes that kind of same difference in a game.

Rodgers finished the regular season with a 112.2 passer rating after completing 341-of-520 passes for 4,381 yards, 38 touchdowns and five interceptions. It was the first time in NFL history that a quarterback had over a 100 passer rating in six consecutive seasons.

Would the Texans had made the playoffs if Rodgers was on the team instead of Watt? The answer is yes. Also, if the NFL held a draft today with every player available who is picking Watt over Rodgers? Maybe, only Matt Millen would do that.

This is not meant to be a knock or to disparage Watt at all. He is a class act, the best defensive player in the game by far and just had maybe the greatest defensive season of all-time, but if the MVP award is about what the title says it’s Rodgers’ trophy.


Matt Bove is a writer at PackersTalk.com. PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on twitter at @RayRobert9.