Jordy Nelson battles rib injury to play well in loss to Falcons

Last week, we were thanking our lucky stars for a guy named Aaron Rodgers. This week, not even he could keep the Packers in serious contention. It was that kind of Championship Sunday.

The home teams dominated, and left little room for the stars of the road squads to flourish. The bar has been lowered on this week of two games with two hosts now heading to the Super Bowl. Worry not -- we've found a few fellas worth highlighting.

Here are your greatest on the road from Championship Sunday.


Greatest on the Road

Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

Early in a frigid battle between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers, Jordy Nelson leaped to catch a pass and took a helmet shot to the ribs. He was shown wincing in pain on the sidelines. It looked like his postseason was done, no matter how far the Packers would advance.

The Divisional round contest against Dallas reinforced that idea. Nelson was inactive as the Packers stunned the Cowboys. His status was again called into question immediately after -- would Nelson play with the NFC title on the line?

Suffer a rib injury and report back on just how comfortable it is to breathe, let alone play professional football at the highest level. Then look at what Nelson did on Sunday.

The wideout suited up in a Kevlar flak jacket -- uncommon for skill players who want maximum freedom of movement, outside of the quarterback -- and sparked Green Bay's offense immediately, catching two passes on the opening drive that ended on Atlanta's 23 but produced a missed field goal. It was indicative of how the afternoon would turn out for the Packers.

Nelson finished with six grabs for 67 yards and a touchdown, albeit an inconsequential score that trimmed the Green Bay deficit to 37-15.

It's tough to see your season end in a blowout. Nelson can walk away with a little more peace of mind knowing he gave it his absolute best, even in defeat.

Also considered ...

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Keeping in line with Packers who played well in defeat, we turn to the arm behind the Packers' frequently prolific passing game, Aaron Rodgers.

But here's the catch -- Rodgers is here because he was the game's leading rusher.

Rodgers did Rodgers things, but wasn't peak Rodgers (in part because of far too many drops by his receivers). A good chunk of his numbers were racked up in garbage time. But his rushing total (46 yards on four attempts) points to how Rodgers used his feet and was willing to absorb hits when it became apparent that the usual way wouldn't be enough to take down Atlanta.

The Packers didn't win. Rodgers didn't have his best day. But he still gave it that Rodgers effort, which is something almost any other team in the league would take, any day of the week.

Lawrence Timmons, Pittsburgh Steelers


The Steelers' defense struggled to stop a nosebleed, especially in the second half. But Lawrence Timmons led the team in tackles, and that's something to feel good about.

Timmons finished with nine tackles (five assists), four more than the next closest defender. He covered an average of 12.77 yards per play, per Next Gen Stats. None of these numbers jump off the screen, but on a night the Steelers are already trying to forget, it's better than nothing.

Too bad we can't pick the Steelers fans who made the trek to Foxborough.

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