There were a lot of things that happened in this game, but really, it’s all about one thing… one man.
Aaron F#cking Rodgers, the greatest player of all-time.
This was a brutal game by Aaron Rodgers standards. Three interceptions usually takes him a month or two. He missed receivers with some underthrows, showing that his arm wasn’t ready to come back, no matter how much his heart was. I applaud his competitiveness (and persuasion, because I don’t think anyone in management felt like he was physically 100% or even 90%).
Despite all that, he was the guy leading them to victory, bringing them within twenty-some yards of a potential game-saving score. He had the read, he ran the play, he threw a perfect dart to hit his receiver in stride on the slant.
Lots of people want to blame the receiver for losing the game. That’s silly. Too many things happen in a football game to blame the outcome on one play (especially when there were no guarantees of what would happen on that play). There are rare exceptions, like the Calvin Johnson play or the Miracle in Motown, but even then, there were half a dozen plays that could have avoided that outcome earlier in the game.
The story of this game is that the Packer lost with a brutal game by Rodgers… well, by Rodgers standards.
They lost a game that they came very close to winning… on the road… to a hot Panthers team that is pushing for a #1 seed… a team that had just knocked off the Vikings, who had the best record in the league…
And Aaron F#cking Rodgers more than made up for all his mistakes in the game and then he made up for all the deficiencies of the team – a team that went to OT against the 4-10 Buccaneers and the 0-14 Browns the previous two weeks.. He took them to the brink, with his throwing arm nowhere near game shape, coming off intense surgery that hadn’t fully healed.
That’s how good he is.
Even at his worst, he was a sight to behold. Let’s just be happy we got to see it one more time this year, let’s look forward to watching it again next year.
“Oh wait,” said Columbo, “there is just one more thing…”
There was another amazing player we got to watch – a player we got to watch a lot over the last few years: Julius Peppers. An ageless wonder, a freak of nature, a player for the ages, a guy who could have dominated any era, with physical gifts we will be lucky to see again.
Before the game, in my predictions column, I said this:
“Julius Peppers will get a sack and handle it like a respectable man (as opposed to not getting a sack and then still running a few steps and getting in a cheap hit when he knows the ball is already gone)”
Peppers did get a sack. After if, he helped Rodgers up and patted him. After the game, he said he was trying to do two things: “to get the ball and to make sure Rodgers didn’t get hurt”
That’s how men play football. Not like Anthony Barr. Not like Zach Brown. Like this. This is an example for our children as much as it is for other NFL players.
We didn’t like the ending, but that was an entertaining game with a couple of great stories.
This is one we should remember for the right reasons.