GREEN BAY – First, it got real quiet.
Then, the chant began.
When quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down and didn’t get up right away after getting sandwiched between two Minnesota defenders on a sack, a hush came over the 77,859 at Lambeau Field on Saturday.
After a couple of minutes, though, Rodgers got to his feet and walked off under his own power as the sound void was filled with “M-V-P! M-V-P!”
It turns out he just had to shake out a neck stinger, the first time he’s ever had one in his career. He expects to be sore but it’s “not something to worry about.”
Neither is his game right now.
“That was an MVP performance, there’s no question about it,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said after Rodgers led the Packers to a 38-25 victory over the Vikings with five total touchdowns and a 136.6 passer rating.
“I don’t want to disrespect the other players that are having good years, but he’s the best player in the National Football League.”
Rodgers winning his third career NFL Most Valuable Player award could hinge on whether or not the Packers finish “running the table” next Sunday in Detroit to capture the NFC North.
It would be tough to bet against Rodgers right now, especially with his calf injury seemingly a non-factor after limiting his mobility so much the past two games.
“I’m not going to give away my secrets,” Rodgers said regarding his rehab, which got him moving around far more than the Vikings could have imagined.
Like in the final minute of the first half, when Rodgers spun away from the blitz, took off to his left and maneuvered his way into the end zone for a 6-yard rushing TD.
It required at least 25 yards of running, and it was tougher than he first thought with Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes cutting him off sooner than expected, but he eventually wound up in the friendly clutches of the north end zone fans.
“I went to my go-to-slash-only juke move in the arsenal and was able to slip in there,” Rodgers said, cracking up the media the same way he made the medical staff laugh when getting checked out for the stinger. “Once I got in I was thinking it had been a long time since I got a Lambeau Leap.
“You love it man. You love that feeling.”
His litany of achievements on Saturday had to feel pretty good, too.
He went over 4,000 yards passing for the sixth time, surpassed 35 TD passes for a fourth time, and reached 374 pass completions on the season. All are franchise records previously held by Brett Favre.
The one that probably means the most to him, though, is his record 59 touchdowns (and counting) with Jordy Nelson, who joined the Packers the same year Rodgers took over as the team’s starting QB.
“It’s fun to be in the record books with such a great guy and great teammate,” Rodgers said.
Right now, Rodgers is the great one. This stretch run he’s putting together reached a new level against a defense that came in ranked sixth in the league in scoring and third in both total yards and passing yards allowed.
In going 28-of-38 for 347 yards, Rodgers was zoned in from the noon kickoff until he threw his last pass with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“Yeah, from the first throw today I was in a different headspace,” Rodgers said. “I just felt that I was, for whatever reason, at heightened awareness and focus. I was seeing things better. I was playing slower in my mind from the start.
“Good place to be at, and you wish you could just harness that every single game, that feeling.”
For one more game (at least), no one in Packer Nation would mind.
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