Pack It Up: Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood

Posted: October 3, 2011 by Kodi in NFL, Pack It Up

Aaron Rodgers Shit all over the Denver Broncos!!!

The young QB had his best regular season game and

did I mention Woodson?

Green Bay has beaten Denver all three prior meetings at Lambeau Field, defeating the Bronco’s in 1993, ’96 and ’03. By defeating Denver the Packers stayed only the 2nd undefeated team in the NFL, NFC North division rival Detroit is the other. The Packers also extended their home winning streak to 7 games, the longest under HC McCarthy. The Packers have won 13 of their last 14 at home and in the previous 35 games Green Bay is 27-8 the best in the NFC over that span.

The Packers 4-0 start is just their 3rd in 45 years, they achieved the feat in 1998 and ’07. In ’98 the Packers went on to finish 11-5 and were bounced out of the Playoffs in the Wild Card round when then 49ers WR Terrell Owens caught a 25 yard TD in front of former Packer S Darren Sharper. 2007 was the final year of the Brett Favre era and fittingly the ‘ol gunslinger’s final play was an INT to Corey Webster. Hopefully the 4-0 start will be less of a curse and the Packers can reach 5-0 for the first time since ’07 and 6-0 for the first time since 1965.

148 points through the first 4 games are the most in franchise history to start the season.  It is the first time since 1921 that the Packers scored 40+ points in two of their first 4 games. The Packers 49 points against the Broncos were the most Green Bay has scored since they beat New Orleans 52-3 on their way to a 4 win season. This Packers team is something special and Sunday’s game was the first this season that the offense was firing on all cylinders.

The Packers racked up 100+ rushing yards for the fourth straight game and as a team the Packers had accomplished that just 6 times in the 2010 regular season. James Starks was supposed to be given a full workload because the Packers medical staff suggested that Ryan Grant be withheld from the game. Starks ran the ball 13 times for 63 yards but didn’t look impressive until he had a 22 yard run late in the game. We knew that somebody was going to have to pick up the slack but I don’t know if people expected it to be Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers became the first Packers QB to run for 2 TDs since Brett Favre ran two in against the Dallas Cowboys in 1995. Rodgers finished the game with 9 rush attempts and ran for 36 yards after rushing the ball just 5 times in the previous 3 games. When asked about his two rushing TDs Rodgers said “they played a lot more man coverage with two high safeties and that means nobody is really on me. I try to enjoy those times to make it look semi-athletic. I didn’t enjoy that hit about a yard in the end-zone from (Safety Brian) Dawkins but I had to make some plays with my legs today”.

Unlike Favre’s game in ’95 when he threw just a single passing TD in a losing effort, Aaron Rodgers actually did something no other QB has done in NFL history. Rodgers became the first QB to run for 2 TDs and pass for over 400 yards and 4 passing TDS. Rodgers set a regular season career high passing for 408 yards, surpassing his previous record by 4 yards which happened a day after Christmas last season against the Giants. Rodgers day was the 3rd best passing game in the Packers regular season history. Rodgers joked after the game that the “tempo was a bit slower than maybe we’d like. . . it didn’t feel like we were going to put up 42 points on offense at that point”.

Rodgers sure has a way with words and makes you wonder what type of game he expects to come out and say “we kicked ass today” or if that just isn’t in his chemistry. I’m glad that he wants to improve and that the pace of the game felt sluggish to him but the Packers are picking defenses apart. Rodgers was most upset by the INT that he threw, a turnover that came late in the game and wasn’t his fault. He has 12 passing TDs and just 2 INTs on the year and is on pace to break some records but we won’t get too far ahead of ourselves.

Rodgers first 8 pass completions were to 6 different players and the Packers had 3 players with 75 receiving yards or more, Jennings, Nelson and Cobb. Rodgers 4 passing TDs were to 4 different WRs, his fourth and final TD was thrown to Donald Driver in the 4th quarter after the grizzled veteran came back from a leg injury. He had left in the 2nd quarter after getting leg whipped on one of Rodgers rushing TDs. Driver said that “if it wasn’t something broken, I feel like I could still play. Doc decided he wanted me to sit down, but he knows I’m hardheaded. I told him that I was going to play, and he gave me the okay”.

Driver was carted off the field and told reporters that at the time his leg was numb and he couldn’t move it. He was taken to the locker room for x-rays which turned out to be negative. “When I went off the field, the first thing I said was, ‘God, please, please, don’t let this be it for me,” Driver explained and chuckled when he said that “He gave me an opportunity to give it one more shot”.

The injury was a scary one and it seemed like something that could have knocked Driver out for the season and possibly his career. Jennings explained that “he almost had us in tears. . . you see him take a hit like that and you see him grabbing his knee. . . Fortunately for us and for him, he was able to bounce back”. Greg Jennings was clearly worried about Driver and didn’t have much to say about his 21st career 100+ receiving yards game. He is now has sole possession of the 5th spot for Packers with the most 100+ yards receiving games.

The only player that didn’t have a huge impact on the game was TE Jermichael Finley. The consistent double coverage of Finley did allow other players to step up and make some big catches. Finley had just 3 receptions for 28 yards and Rodgers admitted that “today their (Denver’s) main focus was stopping Jermichael Finley”. The Packers are not a one trick pony and if defenses scheme to take one player out of the offense Rodgers and Green Bay seem to have a plethora of other options.

The Packers defense played another good game defensively forcing 4 Turnovers for the 2nd time in 4 games. Although the Packers still rank 31st in pass defense after allowing Kyle Orton to throw for 273 yards they are ranked 1st in INTs. They forced Orton to throw 3 picks bringing their team total to 8 passes Intercepted. The biggest INT came in the first quarter when CB Charles Woodson picked off his 50th career INT, a pass intended for Broncos WR Eric Decker.

. “You don’t get many like that, I was able to just jump up underneath it and the ball was coming out I just had to make the catch at that point.” But Charles explained “That was the hardest part of it”. Woodson said he felt “like [he] bobbled it a little bit briefly, and for a second thought I was going to drop it,” but he didn’t.

Actually, Woodson picked it off and ran it 30 yards back for a pick six, the 11th defensive TD of his career, ranking him with the 2nd most all-time and trailing Darren Sharper and Rod Woodson by a single score. “Once I got it and looked back and the receiver kind of stumbling, I knew I could get it in” and with his score he became the only player in NFL history with a INT returned for a TD in six straight seasons

10 of Woodson’s 11 defensive TDs have come in a Packers uniform and hopes that he can tie or break the record this year. 33 of Woodson’s career 50 INTs has come while he wore the Green and Gold but he’s not done yet. “It feels good,” the Packers future HoF CB said “I’m one step behind Rod. Fifty career picks is a huge deal for me. But I don’t feel like I’m done by far, so hopefully there’s a lot more to come”. Watch out Packers opposing QBs you’ve been warned.

Charlie Peprah and Sam Shields both came down with INTs and Shields nearly followed Woodson’s lead returning his pick 60 yards before being pushed out. Shields needed that career high INT return because he was being exposed all game long. Shields had literally been playing himself out of a job. Jarrett Bush was being packaged into the nickel defense rather than Shields throughout the game. The Packers 4th TO came when S Morgan Burnett scooped up a Fumble by Broncos TE Daniel Fells.

Overall the Packers absolutely dominated the game after a slow start. James Starks was stuffed on an early 4th and 1 but the Packers were boosted by a perfect 50 yard strike to Jordy Nelson. Less than a minute later the Packers were watching Woodson return his 50th INT for his 11th defensive TD . The Packers and HC McCarthy decided the time was right to surprise Denver with an onside kick and of course Green Bay recovered. Aaron Rodgers ran in his 1st of 2 TDs and in just under 5:00 of game clock and the Packers had turned a 3-0 game to 21-3 and never turned back.

“There are things we know we need to improve on. So, we need to improve as a team. . . We’re not where we want to be as far as quality of play. There are areas of our football team that we’ll continue to look at. . . We need to improve. There is always room for improvement” McCarthy explained. “The defense is going to get better. We have some guys that are pushing through an injury or two and there is a little tranition there. Trust me, we don’t have it all figure out as a football team. We’re 4-0, but we are ver in-tune that we need to improve as a team and that will be our focus when we get here tomorrow”. Got it Coach, your team has room for improvement. Fans should love to hear that this squad isn’t content with where they are now and are going to keep their foot on the gas pedal. Watch out NFL here come the Green Bay Packers!


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