As the Pittsburgh Steelers make their first trip to Lambeau Field since 2005 – and renew acquaintances with their Super Bowl 45 opponents – they’ll probably have an easier time of it than most visitors to the “Frozen Tundra” have had.
That’s because Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers remains doubtful to return to game action Sunday afternoon, according to ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter:
Packers not expecting Aaron Rodgers to play Sunday vs Steelers unless, as one source said, “something significantly changes with doctor.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 20, 2013
Rodgers, indisputably one of the league’s top signal-callers since getting his chance to guide the Packers five years ago, has missed Green Bay’s past six games with a broken collarbone he sustained Nov. 4 against the Bears. The Packers (7-6-1) have gone 2-3-1 without him, although they’ve won two straight with Matt Flynn behind center.
Despite their mediocre record, the Packers are a half-game behind Chicago for the NFC North division lead, making Sunday’s 4:30 p.m. matchup with Pittsburgh absolutely critical to their playoff push. The Steelers (6-8) still technically have a chance at the postseason, but according to FootballOutsiders.com, it’s less than 1 percent probable they will play into January.
By those same metrics, the Packers have an 18 percent chance to win the division and qualify for the postseason. That probability is decreased with Rodgers on the sideline, mending collarbone or not. Perennially among the league leaders in completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown-to-interception ratio and passer rating, the 30-year-old Rodgers is 1-1 career against Pittsburgh.
He and the Packers lost 37-36 on a last-second touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace in December 2009, but Rodgers earned his vengeance 14 months later on one of sports’ biggest stages. The Cal product went 24 of 39 for 304 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions as Green Bay topped Pittsburgh 31-25 in Super Bowl 45 at what was then called Cowboys Stadium.
There are still quite a few Steelers remaining who experienced that championship disappointment, and although they’d relish the challenge to beat Rodgers, they won’t shedding any tears because if he’s not involved Sunday.