The timing, accuracy and ability to move the chains at will -- a staple of the Green Bay Packers teams under Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy -- had abandoned The Cheese Machine at crucial moments this season. The usually prolific offense finished 23rd overall and 25th in passing yards -- the lowest by far in McCarthy’s 10 seasons as head coach.
Rodgers hasn’t had his usual bevy of sure-shot wide receivers either. Jordy Nelson was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in a meaningless preseason game, which did a number on Rodgers’ production in key moments of games.
Despite some instability on offense and a failing to win the NFC North, the Packers will advance to next week’s Divisional clash against the Arizona Cardinals after a 35-18 thumping of the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Entering Sunday’s game against Washington, the NFC East champs, the Packers made it clear that the playoffs mark a new beginning to their up and down season.
"Not only is each season so specific, each time of year is so specific, and it's as specific as what this week in front of you looks like," McCarthy said on NFL Network in a press conference this past week. "Today, I'm not thinking about what's going on in the past at all. I understand why we keep having to answer these questions, but you improve regardless, even if you're playing at a high level, you still try to improve. It's all about getting better and being prepared for the next contest. So we're just focused on the things that we feel we do very well and how they apply to attacking Washington's defense."
The guy has a Super Bowl Championship and five Division titles in 11 years for a reason. He knew what he was spitting.
The Packers scored on five straight possessions for the first time this season, supporting McCarthy’s claim that the postseason is a totally new adventure for Green Bay. If Rogers has indeed regained his Mojo, like Lucious Lyon taking back his Empire from the clutches of Cookie, then Green Bay has a shot against NFC West champs Arizona next weekend.
After falling behind 11-0 early against Washington, Rodgers channeled his inner Rakim and let the rhythm-hit-em in the second quarter, putting up 17 points and connecting with Randall Cobb and Devonte Adams on vintage scoring strikes. He didn't have a monster passing game, but he was his old efficient self, finishing drives, making sound decisions with the rock and completing 21-36 passes for 210 yards.
Washington tried to fight back but the Packers defense was relentless in pressuring Cousins, whose rather pedestrian performance did nothing to build on his growing popularity and failed to put the final nail in RGIII’s coffin. Much of those 329 passing yards he posted came after the game was out of hand. He didn't throw a pick, but his accuracy and red zone efficiency was severely lacking.
In Mark Cooper's '90 review for UK's popular Q magazine, he wrote of LL: "This... veteran has lost neither his eye for everyday detail nor his sheer relish for...(his gifts).”
The same can be said for Rodgers after his long overdue performance on Sunday.