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Aaron Rodgers Stares Down Fate

The MMQB’s Peter King takes a demeanour during a Seahawks’ 14-5 detriment to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle’s inability to strengthen QB Russell Wilson.

PHILADELPHIA — This city can be an antipathetic place for visiting NFL teams. It can be even reduction kind toward those who leave with a win. Moments after a Packers’ 27-13 feat over a Eagles on Monday night, Aaron Rodgers was headed behind to a locker room when a voice of one relentless heckler rose above a throng during Lincoln Financial Field, baiting Rodgers with a ridicule about his personal life.

Without violation stride, Rodgers incited his conduct behind toward a stands. The fan competence have been out of reach by that point, yet a quarterback, in essence, told him to tighten a ruin up. Then, steely-faced, he entered a locker room carrying silenced all of his critics.

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

After a four-game losing streak, and after being outdueled by Kirk Cousins and Marcus Mariota, and after many conjecture about given Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been personification like Aaron Rodgers, a 32-year-old quarterback delivered a gem of a opening in Green Bay’s must-win Week 12 game. With a loss, a Packers would have depressed 3 games behind in a NFC North—and 2.5 games behind in a discussion wild-card race—with usually 5 left to play.

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“It’s a large disproportion between 4-7 and 5-6, for sure,” pronounced Rodgers, who final week announced that this group could “run a table.” He corroborated adult those difference on Monday night, completing 30 of 39 attempts for 313 yards, dual touchdowns and no interceptions. He hadn’t been that fit given Sep 2015, when people were pursuit him a best actor in football, not cleared up. For a second true game, his QB rating was 115 or aloft (115.0 final week during Washington, 116.7 opposite Philly), and he ordered his group in selected form, meaningful when to rush a slot and run, and meaningful when to hang in and make late and accurate throws. He orchestrated an offense that put together 4 scoring drives of 75 yards or longer, converted 10 of 14 third-down attempts, and bested Philadelphia by scarcely 11 mins in time of possession.

His second touchdown pass was a many revelation play.

Early in a second quarter, Rodgers strike Davante Adams on a 20-yard lane down a left sideline. Adams was well-covered by Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll, and Rodgers certified after a window was even tighter than he suspicion it would be when he expelled a ball. Adams mislaid lane of a round in a track lights, yet when he blindly put his hands out for a pass, it landed precisely where it indispensable to be.

Few QBs would ever try that throw. Fewer still would ever finish it. “That’s what he does,” Adams pronounced simply. “I’m not astounded he threw it.”

Photo: Al Bello (2 center images) and Elsa (2)/Getty Images

That touchdown gave Green Bay a 14-7 lead over a invulnerability that hadn’t surrendered some-more than 15 points during home to any competition this season—and a Packers, many important, never looked back.

Their 6 waste this deteriorate have been a heartless brew of delayed starts, blown saves and unsuccessful rallies—and their four-game movement going into Monday night had taken a fee on a locker room’s confidence. “It has been a severe stretch,” Rodgers said. “You know, we are human. You remove a few in a quarrel and that doubt does climb in about either or not we can indeed finish one of those games off.” So when a Packers, finally, were means to salt out a win in a fourth quarter, Rodgers called it “one of a many delightful drives that we’ve had here in a prolonged time.” It was a 17-play, 78-yard march—extended by a fourth-and-5 sideline chuck to Jordy Nelson and capped by Mason Crosby’s 32-yard margin goal—that emptied 13:03 off a time and stymied any possibility of a Philadelphia comeback.

“You have to trust in yourself, and trust in your teammates,” Rodgers said, “and not let that doubt or fear of disaster ravage you.”

Doubt? Fear of failure? At times this deteriorate it looked like those unequivocally things had been opposition a Packers and their authorization QB. Rodgers, a expert of quick, anticipatory throws, had during times looked wavering as a passer. As theories flew about what ailed a former MVP, Rodgers incurred inspection not usually on a margin yet off of it as well—in a approach that a quarterback in another epoch would never have experienced. His younger hermit Jordan’s coming on a existence TV uncover The Bachelorette and a new Bleacher Report essay embellished a design of a quarterback who is disloyal from his evident family. Rodgers has not addressed his personal life publicly, yet that account hangs over him, providing provender for hecklers to get underneath his skin.

The Packers have a brief week going into Sunday’s diversion opposite Houston, and all eyes will be on Rodgers’ left hamstring. After creation plays with his legs all night, he danced too prolonged on a third down and got tripped adult by linebacker Jordan Hicks as he awkwardly threw a round divided in a third quarter. On a sideline, a group medical staff hovered around Rodgers as he focussed and stretched his left leg; afterwards they took him into a tiny sideline tent for a fasten job. For a residue of a game, Rodgers took snaps out of a shotgun and pistol, usually as he did during a 2015 playoffs when he had a calf injury. Though he seemed to pass on a few chances when he had wide-open lanes to run, Rodgers pronounced of subsequent week’s game: “I’ll be good to go.”

Can this underachieving 5-6 indeed group run a table? The Packers have done 7 uninterrupted appearances in a playoffs—a run matched usually by a Patriots—and that success has done this season’s struggles mount out some-more starkly. Veterans had to rewind several years to remember a time when they’d faced identical adversity. Last week Nelson referenced a 2010 season, when a Packers sat during 8-6 before going on their Super Bowl run. But when he after checked a roster, he counted usually 10 players left from that deteriorate and satisfied a anxiety competence be too dated.

• THE TEN THINGS PODCAST: Gary Gramling and Andy Benoit hang adult a weekend’s action, overnight any Monday morning. Subscribe on iTunes

In football, one thing is unequivocally frequency a problem—nor is one thing ever a solution. But we competence demeanour behind on Monday night and perspective it as a branch point. The Packers’ defense, that had surrendered some-more than 40 points in any of a final dual losses, tightened adult and authorised usually one touchdown notwithstanding being undermanned due to injuries. In a fourth quarter, for a initial time this season, a Packers actor other than Rodgers (fullback Aaron Ripkowski) scored a rushing touchdown.

But no matter how a rest of a Packers’ deteriorate plays out in a standings, Monday night was explanation that Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers.


1. Dallas (10-1). LW: 1. The Cowboys won on Thanksgiving and afterwards got to lay behind and suffer dessert: a Seahawks loss. With 5 games to play, that gives them a 2.5 diversion lead for home-field advantage in a NFC, a unequivocally flattering mark to be sitting in.

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2. New England (9-2). LW: 3. It was transparent on Sunday that Tom Brady’s puzzling knee damage was bothering him to some degree. We all know a Patriots are notoriously tight-lipped on injuries, so it’s tough to know how critical it is, yet does it have a intensity to dawdle into January?

3. Oakland (9-2). LW: 4. The Raiders have survived a lot of thrillers, and that’s given they have a good camber of closers in Derek Carr and Khalil Mack.

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4. Seattle (7-3-1). LW: 2. The Seahawks are a many improved group with Earl Thomas and Michael Bennett, yet many teams can contend that about their star players. After a few weeks of looking dominant, a detriment to a Bucs was a clunker of a game.

5. Kansas City (8-3). LW: 6. we consider Alex Smith is perennially underappreciated, and maybe that’s given a Chiefs have been ignored as contenders. Yes, he and a offense have had some struggles a past 3 weeks, a camber during that he’s also been yet tip receiver Jeremy Maclin. But when he had to on Sunday night, he led 3 scoring drives in a fourth entertain and overtime.

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6. Denver (7-4). LW: 5. The bad news for a Broncos was, well, a outcome. The good news was how good Trevor Siemian played. Gary Kubiak has indicated over a final few weeks that they’re going to chuck all they have into coaching Siemian, yet we have to figure that a lot depends on how he finishes this season. The throws he was asked to make Sunday night—and made—said a lot.

7. Atlanta (7-4). LW: 7. The Browns contingency unequivocally bewail slicing Taylor Gabriel. And Taylor Gabriel contingency unequivocally penchant personification with Matt Ryan.

8. Detroit (7-4). LW: 8. This is positively not a NFC North competition anyone expected. The Lions are on tip given they can do what their multiplication foes can’t: tighten out games in a fourth quarter.

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9. New York Giants (8-3). LW: 10. The Giants are in unequivocally good position in a NFC wild-card race, yet they have a tough report ahead: during Pittsburgh, vs. Dallas, vs. Detroit, during Philadelphia, during Washington.

10. Washington (6-4-1). LW: 8. They have some winnable NFC games in a home widen of their report (Cardinals, Panthers, Bears). Jumping approach forward here, yet that New Year’s Day home diversion opposite a Giants could be a large one.

11. Miami (7-4). LW: 12. Adam Gase is a burning coach, and that’s been a good thing for a Dolphins. He also competence be a slightest calm manager on a six-game winning streak, and that’s also been a good thing. After starting a deteriorate 1-4, Gase has Miami in a playoff picture.

12. Pittsburgh (6-5). LW: 11. It’s a two-team competition in a AFC North. The Steelers need some-more defense. The Ravens need some-more offense. They don’t play conduct to conduct for 4 some-more weeks, Dec. 25 during Pittsburgh.

13. Baltimore (6-5). LW: 14. As streaky as a offense has been, it’s positively a comfort to know we unequivocally usually have to get to midfield or so to measure (not hyperbole). The NFL’s usually ideal kicker is value any penny of that $16.8 million contract.

14. Tampa Bay (6-5). LW: 17. With back-to-back wins opposite dual of a NFL’s tip 5 teams, Kansas City and Seattle, a Bucs are gripping things engaging in a NFC South while looking like a group that’s headed in a right direction. It’s been a while given they could contend that.

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15. Green Bay (5-6). LW: UR. The Packers saved their deteriorate on Monday night. They will also have to save it any week from here on out.

Also receiving consideration:

16. Minnesota (6-5). LW: 13.
17. Buffalo (6-5). LW: 18.
18. Philadelphia (5-6). LW: 15.
19. Tennessee (6-6). LW: UR.
20. San Diego (5-6). LW: UR.

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