They say that football is a team sport. I suggest “they” watch the Packers.
For a decade, Aaron Rodgers has been the most valuable player in football. Brady has won more #RINGZ and Drew Brees has rewritten large portions of the record book, but nobody has done more for their team than Rodgers has for the Packers. Green Bay’s 27-24 overtime win against the Bengals on Sunday is just the latest chapter in our alternate timeline where Luke Skywalker grew up on Earth and played professional football in Wisconsin.
It was a typical Packers game in many ways: The line couldn’t protect Rodgers, Mike McCarthy’s play-calling was more hindering than helpful, and the defense put the team in an early hole. Rodgers contributed to the deficit, however, when he tried to muscle a throw to Jordy Nelson that Bengals cornerback William Jackson III broke on and returned for a touchdown to put Cincinnati up, 21-7. The pick-six was all the more embarrassing because it came in a game where Andy Dalton didn’t turn the ball over.
Rodgers more than bounced back. He finished the game 28-of-42 for 313 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception for a 102.6 passer rating in his first victory in a game where he was sacked six or more times. It was a fantastic stat line considering how much pressure he faced. Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari was inactive, and right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who was held out of the the Packers’ first two games with an ankle injury, appeared to aggravate the injury during the game and did not return. Without them, the Packers seemed unable to give Rodgers any room to breathe. He was walloped by the Bengals, who hit him nine times overall. McCarthy’s play-calling wasn’t helping matters.
Aaron Rodgers to the sideline - "Stupid f***ing call, stupid f***ing call" pic.twitter.com/celvF0g8K2— That Dude (@cjzer0) September 24, 2017
On nearly every dropback, he had to slide away from pressure while keeping his eyes downfield. You don’t even notice that it’s happening because Rodgers makes it look so easy. But in reality, it’s like trying to snipe in Call of Duty while your friends are in the room trying to peg you with rocks.
Rodgers took control of the game in the second half. On third-and-goal from the 1 in the middle of the third quarter, Rodgers rolled right and sprinted toward the end zone, drawing a defender off of Nelson, opening him up for an easy touchdown.
With 21 seconds left in the game, down seven points and with a first-and-goal, Rodgers transcended space and time. He rolled right and threaded a ball to Jordy Nelson in the corner of the end zone into a window so small it was almost nonexistent.
Watch that again, and decide for yourself if Rodgers is either a genetic anomaly or a Terminator.
Even CBS commentator Tony Romo (who radiates joy as an upbeat Oracle of Delphi in the booth and needs to be paired with Gus Johnson immediately) was dumbfounded.
Rodgers entered the game 0-7 in overtime in his career, but he’s barely had the ball in his hands in those games. This time, he got the chance to be his masterful self in post-regulation play. Rodgers, who has the best hard count in football, drew an offsides penalty and then fired a [*Dr. Evil Voice*] laser beam to Geronimo Allison for a 72-yard gain that set up the Packers for the winning field goal.
I’ve watched this play 50 times already. The genius of Rodgers and his ability to get guys offsides is remarkable pic.twitter.com/GkBTCcA2un— Eric Hubbs (@BarstoolHubbs) September 24, 2017
In the second half, we saw a little bit of everything that makes Rodgers’s great: a cannon arm, a telepathic connection with his receivers, and the ability to manipulate the secondary with his eyes, linebackers with his legs, and linemen with his voice—all done with the same courage that allows him to tell his coach where he can shove it. The Packers have holes on their team, but outside of that one pick-six, Rodgers was close to flawless for Green Bay’s One-Man Show.