The problem with the 5-6 Green Bay Packers entering Monday night’s must-win game against the Philadelphia Eagles was never Aaron Rodgers. But when you have led your team to seven-straight playoff appearances, if things aren’t going right they tend to blame the most recognizable face in the organization.
Rodgers took some flack for a Packers season that went left as they lost four straight games. The defense was the main culprit, but when you have been branded a miracle worker, people want to see you produce perfection every time out. Pro sports doesn’t work that way.
A Super Bowl squad consists of many different parts executing a specific passion. Green Bay lost some important cogs in the machine this season and it hurt them, but after thrashing Philly 27-13, the Packers are now engaged in a desperate dogfight and within striking distance of Jim Caldwell’s Lions, who are at 7-4 in the NFC North.
“I just saw more effort (from the rest of the team),” said Michael Robinson, a former 8-year NFL veteran who now works for NFL Network. "They need guys like Davante Adams to become explosive down the field and he did that tonight (5 catches for 113 yards and two TDs). I don't think there should be any other questions about Aaron Rodgers.”
Rodgers had his Superman moment when he went into the mystery tent during a close game after suffering a hamstring injury. He came out like gangbusters, finding a deadly rhythm with Adams and a slew of different receivers that Philadelphia couldn’t suppress.
“These guys came into the game..their backs were against the wall,” said Reggie Wayne, a six-time Pro Bowl selection. “They needed to make something happen. When you have Rodgers at the helm you know good things can happen. Since Week 7, this guy’s been playing phenomenal.”
The QB duel was exactly what it was; a young cub diminishing under the grueling grind and emotional roller coaster of his first 16-game NFL season, and one of the greatest to ever do it in Rodgers, who completed 30 of 39 strikes for 313 yards and a couple of scores. It was his third straight 300-yard passing game and a sign of his full return. Rodgers was also scramblin’ like Randall to the tune of 26 rushing yards and some clutch first down gallops.
It was vintage Rodgers, but the hero of the day was the Packers defense.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix came through with a pick. Clay Matthews was banged up but provided inspiration and sacked Wentz late in the game. After weeks of struggles and injuries, the Packers D helped stop the atypical slide the cheeseheads were on.
“This Packer defense showed up... four sacks on Carson Wentz...the past few weeks we've been talking about how they didn’t have the playmakers on defense. Tonight you saw...Bid Dawg Daniels and that defensive line get after the QB and made Carson Wentz uncomfortable,” said Robinson. “And that’s what Green Bay needs... is for the defense to get Aaron Rodgers some more possessions.”
That’s always been the recipe of success for the Green Bay Packers who live to fight another day for their playoff lives.