In a wild, 24-23 comeback win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Aaron Rodgers showed why there’s no one quite like him in the NFL.
The 2018 season nearly got off to a disastrous start for the Green Bay Packers. Trailing 10-0 in the second quarter, Rodgers was sacked, with Bears defender Roy Robertson-Harris landing awkwardly on Rodgers’ left leg. Rodgers limped off the field and was later carted back to the locker room.
Luckily, he returned, erasing fears about a season-ending injury. He came back facing a 20-0 deficit and got right to work.
In the third quarter, down 20-3, on 2nd-and-2 from the Bears’ 41-yard line, Rodgers took the snap and dropped back. Usually, a mobile quarterback who can dance around and freelance, Rodgers was reduced to fundamentals and timing in this game. With a gimpy leg, Rodgers hung tight in the pocket, with excellent protection, as he waited for the play to develop.
After about four seconds, Rodgers lofted a ball up across the field to wide receiver Geronimo Allison. The ball floated through the air, then landed right in Allison’s arms in the back right corner of the end zone, safely out of reach of cornerback Kyle Fuller. Allison made the grab as he fell to the ground, getting both feet in and controlling the ball.
Two things made the throw so special:
1. The ball placement. Not only did Rodgers throw 40 yards across the field, but he also put the ball out of the reach of Fuller, Chicago’s top cornerback. Even if Allison couldn’t make the grab (which was also excellent), it looked clear of Fuller’s reach.
2. Rodgers looked off the safety. As NBC’s Cris Collinsworth noted, before the throw, Rodgers sold the play as if he was going to the left side of the field. With Allison far right, Rodgers put enough distance between Allison and any backup help Fuller could get, then dropped the pass in Allison’s lap.
Rodgers got plenty of help in the comeback — from his receivers, offensive line, and a defense that held the Bears to six second-half points.
But the game also showed how naturally talented and fundamentally sound Rodgers is. Minus the ability to extend plays that can make him so deadly and unique, Rodgers instead stuck to a more scripted offense. With an added dash of urgency and motivation, the game showed how technically precise and good Rodgers really is.