The Redskins, meanwhile, will make only their second postseason appearance since 2012 and their third since 2007. Quarterback Kirk Cousins played late in that first-round playoff loss to Seattle in 2012, but this is his first playoff start.
Rodgers said he and his teammates greatly value their playoff experiences and hope that gives them an edge. The 2014 league MVP also said that failure in his first playoff start proved extremely valuable for him and his teammates.
“I think you have to learn how to win in the playoffs,” Rodgers said, via conference call on Wednesday. “We dealt with a tough loss in 2009, my first playoff game. Learned how to win after that, and we’ve had some good ones over the years. It comes down to execution and taking care of the football in the playoffs. When the nerves hit, you’ve got to be able to push on through it. When you have experience with doing it before, it definitely helps when those come up.”
Reflecting on that 51-45 overtime loss to Arizona, Rodgers discussed the challenges he and his inexperienced teammates encountered.
“I just think playing on the road, it was a loud environment, it comes down to execution,” he said. “I threw a pick on the first play, and then we fumbled on the third play, and the next thing you know, we’re down two scores. We battled back and got it to even, had a chance in overtime. You just have to execute really well. There’s no excuse for not making plays. It comes down to – just like the regular season – it comes down to a few plays here and there, but it’s obviously highlighted in the playoffs because it’s win or go home.”
Cousins is well aware of the experience disadvantage. And he ranks Rodgers as one of the quarterbacks he most looks up to, along with Tom Brady and Drew Brees. But he said he’ll simply focus on himself and playing his best, rather than trying to match Rodgers.
“Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. He’s tough to beat,” Cousins said. “Very talented player, great quarterback, sets the bar high for the rest of us. He’s a guy I study and learn from much like the other two I mentioned. So I think it’s very important that I stay within myself, just do what I need to do and what I’m coached to do to help our offense. It’s not my job to stop Aaron when he’s on the field and we’ll see where we are at the end of it. I think it’s important that we operate well on offense, convert on third downs, score points in the red zone – all those things that I talked about that are critical to winning because of the fact that they have such a great quarterback on the other side that if you don’t make good on those opportunities, typically they’ll make you pay.”
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