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There was one Monster of the Midway in the NFC championship game and his name was Aaron Rodgers.
He ran for a touchdown. He made a touchdown-saving tackle. And he was better than three Bears quarterbacks in leading the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl with an ugly-but-beautiful 21-14 victory Sunday over Chicago.
"It's a dream come true," Rodgers said. "It's an incredible feeling. I'm at a loss for words."
Rodgers kept the Bears' defense off balance all afternoon, Green Bay kept Devin Hester under wraps and the Packers' superb defense took care of the rest in knocking the rival Bears out of the playoffs.
It was the 182nd meeting in the league's most historic rivalry, and the stakes had never been bigger.
Now the Packers (13-6) are headed to Dallas. And no matter what happens in the Super Bowl, the Packers and their fans hold ultimate bragging rights over their rivals to the South.
The Packers will play the winner of Sunday night's AFC title game between the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.
All Jay Cutler could do was watch, having left the game with a knee injury early in the third quarter. And with Cutler sitting, little-known backup Caleb Hanie actually made it a game.
Chicago's third-string quarterback rallied the Bears for a touchdown drive to cut the lead to 14-7 after Chester Taylor's 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
Hanie and the Bears had a chance to tie the game after the Bears' defense finally got a few stops, but Hanie threw a ball straight to Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji, who lumbered 18 yards into the end zone for a touchdown to give the Packers a 21-7 lead.
But Hanie wasn't finished, throwing a 35-yard touchdown to Earl Bennett to again cut the lead to seven points with 4:43 left.
The Bears (12-6) forced a punt and got the ball back with under 3 minutes left. Hanie drove the Bears to the Green Bay 29-yard line, then threw a fourth-down interception to Sam Shields - the rookie's second interception of the game.
Now all those Pro Bowl voters who didn't think Rodgers was worthy can relax. They're off the hook.
Rodgers will be busy getting ready for the Super Bowl instead.
Rodgers proved ready for the biggest day of his brief but impressive career as the successor to Brett Favre, even if his final stat line didn't look impressive after an ugly, hard-fought game.
He threw for 244 yards with two interceptions, but his play in the first half put the Bears in a hole as their defense that seemed to fall for every play-action fake.
This program aired on January 23, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.
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