Emotions were high on Sunday as Aaron Rodgers limped off the field and was eventually carted off into the locker room. After waiting nearly a full season just to see the superstar quarterback back on the field, excitement and hype were at an all-time high for the season opener. However, the first half did not go as expected. Rodgers went 3/7 for 13 yards, looking rusty with subpar play calling and the same old defensive problems.
Things got even worse with 9:12 left in the second quarter. Rodgers was sacked on a third down, which led to a fourth straight punt to open the game. More importantly, however, he was hurt when a near-300-pound defensive player landed on his left leg. The franchise’s only hope for on-field relevancy went with Rodgers into the locker room, along with a look of sheer disappointment in his eyes.
The team’s backup, DeShone Kizer, looked even worse. He went for 4/7 for 55 yards, a fumble, and a pick-six. The rest of the season looked bleak for the team. A return seemed extremely questionable for their star. When players get carted into a locker room, especially considering the look on Rodgers’ face, it’s usually a very serious problem. To top it all off, the game was Bears vs. Packers at Lambeau Field. Football’s oldest rivalry, the 197th meeting between the two teams, and the Pack were down 17-0 without their MVP.
The Chicago Bears have quietly built up one of the best young rosters in the game. The team is being held back only by their youth and a young up-and-coming quarterback. In the first half of the game, the Bears looked miles better, shutting out their rivals 17-0 before going up 20-0 after their second-half opening drive. It became evident that the team’s roster as a whole has improved.
But lo and behold, that “baaaaad man” rose from the ashes like the Dark Knight. Rodgers took the field, and the atmosphere immediately changed. An injured man vs. a loaded defense seemed like the stuff of legends to the audience. The “Aaron Rodgers Effect” came into play in the game’s last 25 minutes.
Rodgers finished the contest with 286 passing yards and three touchdowns on 20/30 passing, which is good for a 130.7 passer rating. However, his playing during the second half was incredible, despite his injury.
Rodgers’ support system should not be forgotten. The entire audience was rejuvenated. The team, bestowed with a new sense of energy, stepped up big time. The Packers limited the Bears to two field goals over the last 30 minutes, although they almost blew it on the last drive of the game. Rodgers’ receivers stepped up and made big-time plays in order to help him out. Again, the “Aaron Rodgers Effect” was in full swing.
The Packers’ number 12 has already sealed his legacy. Rodgers is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he is widely regarded as the most talented quarterback in the NFL’s history. At the end of the night, this game only added to his legacy of remarkable moments and plays.
First off, Aaron Rodgers will always be known as a “Cowboy Killer.” He has established himself as the Dallas Cowboys’ worst nightmare, always beating them in the biggest moments. He is 4-3 against “America’s Team” in the regular season, and 2-0 in the playoffs. Take one of last season’s games, for example. The Pack was down three, with 1:13 left in the game, and Rodgers drove down the field and scored a touchdown in 61 seconds to win the game.
Rodgers gave fans one of the most iconic playoff victories in recent memory. With about 30 seconds left in the game, he was absolutely crushed on a sack that should have resulted in a fumble. Rodgers somehow managed to hold onto to the ball, saving the game and a trip to the NFC Championship in the process. He had the awareness to call a timeout, even after a mind-shattering hit.
Then, on 3rd & 20, he made the throw heard around the country. While rolling to his left, he threw a 35-yard dime off-platform across his body to Jared Cook. Cook, his tight end, made a remarkable catch as well. This will go down as one of the greatest throws ever, because it required a next level combination of athleticism, vision, arm strength, touch, and accuracy.
The throw also helped to set up the game-winning field goal, and it put the team through to the NFC Championship game as well.
Not to be outdone, however, is Rodgers title as the “Hail Mary King.” It’s fair to say that when fans think of the Hail Mary, they think of Rodgers.
Because it's his birthday…
— NFL (@NFL) December 2, 2017
Two of his Hail Marys were walk-off game-winners, and two others were back-to-back on the last drive in a playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals. Another Hail Mary closed out the first half of a playoff game against the New York Giants, which then opened the floodgates in the second half.
On Sunday night, Rodgers was a warrior and hero who led a comeback for the ages. He proved that nothing is unbelievable with Rodgers at the helm. After returning, Rodgers went 17/23 with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, for a 152.7 passer rating. He completed the biggest comeback of his career and overcame a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter, which was the largest fourth-quarter comeback in franchise history.
Rodgers did all of this while not able plant his left leg, turn on it, and step into his throw. He was essentially throwing without half a lower body, which makes this touchdown pass a thing of legend.
📺: NBC pic.twitter.com/cinPOMvOVP
— NFL (@NFL) September 10, 2018
Rodgers’ pass was all due to his upper body and arm strength. The stat sheet states that it was a 39-yard TD pass. In totality, it was about 50 yards vertically and 30 yards horizontally. In total, then, Rodgers managed around a 60-yard throw with no proper lower-body support.
Rodgers’ mobility, which allows him to make plays outside of the pocket, was taken away from him. As such, he had to settle for strictly being a pocket passer. He demonstrated that his talent for that role, as well.
The Packers were lucky to escape due to their MVP’s wizardry. The defense will have to continue to play as they did in the second half because the challenges will only continue to become more difficult. However, as long as Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers, nothing is unbelievable.
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