Super Bowl: Aaron Rodgers touches down with the legends
Now Rodgers can say he did the same after guiding the Green Bay Packers to a 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl in the early hours of yesterday morning.
The Vince Lombardi Trophy is heading back to Green Bay for the first time in 14 years, and Rodgers can lead the championship parade in the red convertible he received as the game's Most Valuable Player.
"It's the top of the mountain in my sport, my profession," Rodgers said. "It's what you dream about as a kid and think about in high school."
The Packers raised their record of NFL titles to 13, nine before the Super Bowl era. The Steelers still own the most Super Bowl titles - six in eight tries. Rodgers put his team ahead on their second drive and made sure they never trailed. He threw three touchdowns and had no turnovers.
He also proved Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson was right to draft him and to trade Brett Favre so he could become the starter. Favre led the Packers to their last championship, but was never the Super Bowl MVP.
"I told Ted back in 2005 he wouldn't be sorry with this pick," Rodgers said. "I told him in '08 that I was going to repay their trust and get us this opportunity."
Green Bay led 21-3 with a few minutes left until half-time, but Pittsburgh had plenty of resolve.
Ben Roethlisberger got a quick touchdown before the interval, then another early in the third quarter. The Steelers were driving in search of a touchdown to take the lead when Rashard Mendenhall fumbled in a hit by Clay Matthews at the start of the fourth quarter.
Rodgers marched from there to a touchdown, stretching the lead and making the Packers three-for-three in scoring touchdowns off turnovers.
But Roethlisberger brought Pittsburgh back again, throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace and following with a well-struck two-point conversion. Green Bay's 18-point lead was now down to a field goal.
Rodgers got to the Pittsburgh five-yard line in the next series, only to see Jordy Nelson fail to make what would have been a tough catch in the end zone. Mason Crosby kicked a short field goal, but the six-point lead left the Packers and their fans uneasy, even if Roethlisberger had to go 87 yards in just under two minutes with only one timeout. Some thought about last year's game against Pittsburgh, when Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass on the final play of the game and they lost by one point. Others thought about the Super Bowl two years ago, when Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass in the final minute to beat Arizona."This time," Packers defensive co-ordinator Dom Capers said, "it was our turn."
Roethlisberger got a first down on the first play, then threw three straight incompletions.
His season that began with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy ended with his head down, hands on his hips, feeling something he never experienced: defeat in a Super Bowl.
"I feel like I let the city of Pittsburgh down, the fans, my coaches and my team-mates and it's not a good feeling," Roethlisberger said.