GREEN BAY – Questions about Aaron Rodgers’ health aren’t going away, not after he added a calf injury to his hamstring trouble during Sunday’s victory.
But any doubts about his seemingly bold and out-of-nowhere “run the table” remark three weeks ago have certainly subsided.
The Packers not only won their third straight game but also handed a significant, 38-10 beatdown to a Seattle team that came into Lambeau Field with the second-best record in the NFC.
“At 4-6, I felt we had a lot of confidence and it was close to clicking for us,” Rodgers said of his feelings at the tail end of Green Bay’s four-game losing streak. “Most people in this room probably didn’t believe when I said we could run the table.”
He then revealed why, exactly, he said it.
“I thought it was important to state how I really felt about the team at that time,” Rodgers said.
That’s what a leader does, and Rodgers is that for this team. Leaders also play through injuries as though nothing is wrong, and that’s what Rodgers did on Sunday.
He injured his calf early when he rolled right and fired a 66-yard TD pass to Davante Adams, but who could tell? Dealing with his bum hamstring as well, he went on to post a 150.8 passer rating, his highest since Week 7 of his second MVP season of 2014.
“I think he spoils us all,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “He hurts his calf on the third play, and we had to dump a bunch of things on the call sheet.”
Rodgers also hurt his calf late in the 2014 season, but he said this is the opposite one, and he confessed the injury may have been a result of overcompensating for the bad hamstring with his other leg.
“Grit” was how he got through it, he said, while also tossing out player-by-player compliments to an offensive line that continues to protect him impressively.
He doesn’t yet know how this calf injury compares to two years ago, but all the offensive adjustments the Packers must make in these circumstances are getting to be old hat.
That won’t make the second half of the “run the table” goal any easier, but the Packers have all the momentum they could ask for on their side right now.
For most of Sunday, everything was going against the Packers. Needing help in the playoff chase from the Bears, Jaguars, and Eagles, all three lost close games to the Lions, Vikings, and Redskins, but Green Bay nonetheless turned it into a big day.
The Packers still need help – primarily, they need either the Giants or Cowboys to knock off the Lions one of the next two weeks, while keeping their own winning streak going – but Rodgers placed this team’s playoff chances at “strong to quite strong” following Sunday’s win.
That sounds like a quarterback not worried about his nagging health issues, and with his chemistry with top target Jordy Nelson as steady as ever, who’s to argue.
Rodgers and Nelson connected twice for scores on Sunday and now have 57 touchdowns together, tied for the franchise mark held by Brett Favre and Antonio Freeman.
“I’d say he’s fairly automatic,” Rodgers said of Nelson in the red zone after grabbing TDs of 9 and 3 yards on Sunday. “He’s a smart, smart player. On the second touchdown, he was basically pointing to me where to throw the football. I’m fortunate to have played with him and connected so many times.”
The Packers are also fortunate Rodgers has found his groove, healthy or not. In his last four games, he’s completing 71 percent of his passes (94-of-133) and averaging 280 passing yards while throwing 10 touchdowns and no picks. That’s a cumulative 121.1 rating over the last month.
Rodgers has gotten hot, the defense has mended its injuries somewhat, and the Packers just might, indeed, run the table.
They’re halfway home.
“This was an important win for us confidence-wise, and then I think it was a good statement to our fans as well,” Rodgers said.
“Stick with us, because there’s a lot of football left.”
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