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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Rodgers falls short in attempt to run the table

MIKE MORBECK [CC BY-SA 2.0] / FLICKR
MIKE MORBECK [CC BY-SA 2.0] / FLICKR
Incredible showing of Green Bay Packers ends in conference championship game

Standing at 4-6 through Week 11 of the NFL season, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers look destined to fall short of their playoff goals. They had just been demolished by the Washington Redskins by a score of 42-24 and had lost in a similar fashion to the Tennessee Titans 47-25 the week prior.

Rodgers had an unusually sluggish start to the season, and the Packers had lost four straight, but somehow his swagger and sense of self never wavered. He made comments to the media following their most recent loss that the Pack was bound to run the table and sneak their way into the playoffs. He was correct. Green Bay rattled off six straight victories on their way to a 10-6 record to win the NFC North and Rodgers was playing at an  unbelievable level.

The run of success up until this weekend was something I had never seen before. Aaron Rodgers looked bionic. He was capable of fitting any pass into any space he desired. He didn’t throw a single interception since Week 10 against the Redskins until his second playoff game against Dallas. His tremendous achievements made me realize that Rodgers wasn’t just the best quarterback in the NFL, he might be one of the best quarterbacks in league history.  

In the Wild Card round, Rodgers made a mockery of the hottest defense in the NFL by completing 25-40 passes for 362 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions and dropped 38 points on the New York Giants. In that game, he lost his star receiver, Jordy Nelson, to a vicious helmet shot to the body which caused fractures in his ribs. Losing Nelson made the upcoming challenge against the Cowboys a lot tougher.

He went to Dallas the week after, sans Nelson, and did pretty much the same thing. Rodgers slung 43 passes and completed 28 of them for 355 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. The most memorable moment of the game for the Packers came after Dan Bailey of the Cowboys tied up the game on a field goal with 35 seconds left on the clock.

With so little time left, you’d have to be thinking overtime. Nope.

3rd and 20 with 12 seconds left on the clock and Green Bay on its own 33, Rodgers magically rips the ball for 36 yards on the run to tight end Jared Cook to set up a game-winning field goal in the final seconds.

What Rodgers was doing to make up for the injuries and weaknesses of the rest of the Green Bay Packers was simply jaw-dropping. Football is obviously a multifaceted game in which not one man can carry a team, but that’s exactly what Rodgers was doing. Max Kellerman of ESPN’s First Take stated that Rodgers was playing like the Michael Jordan of the NFL, and he was absolutely correct. Aside from the star quarterback, the Packers didn’t have the makeup of a playoff football team. Their secondary had gotten ruthlessly beaten up during the tail end of the season, their running game was pretty much non-existent and injuries continued to decimate the roster. Success for the Green Bay Packers has hinged on one thing, and that one thing is Aaron Rodgers.

In a sport where the most complete and well-rounded team ends up always taking the cake, Rodgers made us reconsider that widely-accepted logic. Many thought that he could continue the one-man show, but unfortunately he ran into a very talented Atlanta Falcons offense that turned out to be way too much for the Green Bay defense. In Sunday’s game, Matt Ryan tore up the suspect Green Bay secondary to the tune of 392 passing yards and four touchdowns. Green Bay looked lifeless throughout the entire game, but even after being down 24-0 by half, many still wondered if it was too late to call it.

Is Aaron Rodgers capable of pulling this comeback off? If anybody could do it, it would surely be him.

The rally never manifested itself, and the Falcons defeated the Packers by a score of 44-21. The Falcons finally overcame their reputation as notorious playoff chokers and will meet the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI, in which they will surely enter as underdogs.

Aaron Rodgers by himself wasn’t enough to drag the flawed Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl, but his historical stretch following his “run the table” comments at the end of November is one to remember. I write this article on the 11 year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s 81 point game which showed that in basketball, one man can carry a very flawed team. Rodgers’

stretch proved the same, but unfortunately for Green Bay, they couldn’t go the entire distance.

Regardless, this man has established himself as a living legend of the game.
Written by: Michael Wexler — sports@theaggie.org

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