RODGERS SIMPLY REMARKABLE
Packers quarterback reaffirms greatness in comeback win over Bears in Week 1
Khalil Mack, who got a US$141million contract extension a week or so ago and may be the NFL’s best defensive player, was stunningly effective in the first half of his first game as a member of the Chicago Bears Sunday night.
But Aaron Rodgers, who got a $134-million contract extension with the Green Bay Packers a week or so ago and may be the NFL’s best offensive player, outdid Mack.
Rodgers performed even better in the second half, jumping off the medical-examining table in the Packers’ locker-room and engineering an NFL comeback for the ages, culminating in Green Bay’s 24-23 victory.
Think marquee players don’t impact games in the NFL? You bet your life they do.
If you happened to turn off this game at halftime, you missed a vintage Rodgers performance that turned a 20-point deficit into a fantastic win for the hometown Packers.
Those heroics were necessary because of Mack’s dominance, becoming the first player since he did it himself as a member of the Oakland Raiders two years ago to record a sack, interception, forced fumble, fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown in the same game.
Mack’s play in the second quarter had the upstart Bears up 17-0 at the half.
Chicago made it 20-0 after the opening possession of the second half, only to see Rodgers implausibly trot back onto the field and play maybe the best half of his career in rallying the Packers to a belief-defying win.
This after the two-time MVP collapsed to the field in pain with a left knee injury in the second quarter. He had to be helped to the sideline and carted to the locker-room.
An hour-plus later, Rodgers had thrown three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to flip all narratives: a 39-yarder to Geronimo Allison, a 12-yarder to Davante Adams and an ad libbed mediumdepth pass to Randall Cobb, who turned on the jets for a 75-yard go-ahead TD with 2:13 left, which stood as the winning score.
All this while Rodgers seemed unable to put much pressure on his lead left leg as he threw, and despite the fact his considerably swollen, still painful knee started stiffening in that decisive fourth quarter. Rodgers had to modify his delivery, relying even more on his strong, uncannily accurate arm. He couldn’t even take a snap from under centre because he couldn’t drop back. Every play had to be run from the pistol or gun.
And yet Rodgers still carved up the Bears’ pass defence, while somehow nullifying Mack and a ferocious, albeit tiring, Chicago pass rush with quick passes.
“(It’s) just a reminder to the squad that a belief in each other is so very important to sustaining success,” Rodgers said.
“Feeding off the energy and momentum. I’ve talked with our guys on the staff at times about whether they believe in momentum in a game. And I do. Guys picked it up. We made some plays on defence, made some stops.”
As NBC’s Michele Tafoya interviewed the 34-year-old moments after the head-shaking spectacle ended at Lambeau Field, Rodgers appeared to tear up, big time, as both the emotion of the moment and size of his accomplishment appeared to engulf him. Later, Rodgers summed it up. “This will be one I’ll definitely smile about in 10 years.”
Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown tied Torry Holt for the secondfewest games (116) needed to reach 10,000 career receiving yards in their tie with Cleveland … Washington RB Adrian Peterson became the seventh NFLer to amass 12,000 rushing yards and 100 rushing TDs … Who led Week 1 in rushing through Sunday? Le’Veon Bell’s replacement in Pittsburgh, James Conner, with 135 yards against the Browns … Tampa Bay temporary starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick led all NFL passers through Sunday in passer rating (156.3) … This is who Saquon Barkley is, so get used to it. The New York Giants RB had a dazzling 68-yard TD run versus Jacksonville. Besides that, he ran 17 times for 38 yards.
Only the Los Angeles Chargers could amass 541 yards of offence and 33 first downs and also average a whopping 7.4 yards per snap and turn it over only once, yet lose by 10 at home to Kansas City. Dropped balls, continuing horrible special teams and leaky defence were to blame. There’s always something — or some things, to be more precise — that keep the Chargers from winning enough to be good, let alone great.
Lastly, there’s this. Buffalo trailed Baltimore 26-0 at halftime. Green Bay trailed Chicago 20-0 early in the third. The Bills lost 47-3. The Packers won 24-23. Once and for all, people, quarterbacking in the NFL trumps all other factors as to whether you win or lose.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers leaves the field surrounded by photographers after his fourth quarter heroics led the Packers to a 24-23 win over the Chicago Bears Sunday.