Last year the NFL missed Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs, a first since 2008 due to a broken collar bone. Last night could have been a second straight year.
There is no doubt that Aaron Rodgers is one of the NFL’s most dynamic players. His legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks the league has ever known is already written in Canton. Yet football is not the same when a star like Rodgers gets injured.
His presence is polarizing not only to Green Bay, but to the entire league. With nine minutes left in the second quarter, Aaron Rodgers went down with a knee injury. It did not look good. Instant replay showed his knee buckle when hit by a Bears defender.
The scene as best described by NBC commentator Al Michaels, “had all the hearts in Green Bay stopping.” Unable to get off the field on his own, everyone watching at the stadium and across America feared the worst for Rodgers.
You can only speculate with those knee injuries that it’s a torn-ACL, an injury that sidelines players for the entire season. That became more evident as Rodgers was carted off to the locker room. The night got worse when Rodgers’ replacement DeShone Kizer forfeited two turnovers having the Packers down 20-0.
Twitter started to light up at halftime. Reporters, fans, and trolls started kicking in their two cents, yet news about Rodgers injury remained lock and key. There was no official confirmation that he would be out. After the 15-minute TV timeout, Rodgers was back on the sideline. He was going to start and “give it a go.”
Coming from a family of Packers fans, the living room was tense. My family and I were shaking our heads questioning why the Packers’ coaching staff would throw Rodgers back into the lion’s den. A den that saw defensive phenom Khalil Mack single handedly destroy the Packers offensive line in the first half.
The fact that Rodgers was walking and willing to play describes how crazy and gutsy this man is. Maybe it was the adrenaline as he described after the game that led him and the Packers to a Hollywood comeback victory, a victory where Rodgers and company scored 24 unanswered and improbable points.
Yes, an injured Rodgers who could not put any pressure on his left foot threw for three touchdowns. His performance was beyond a miracle making him one step above great and one below God.
Every throw Rodgers made was quick with less than three seconds apart. He was throwing dimes. Trusting the short and intermediate routes, Rodgers played entirely in the pistol and shotgun formations. His throws were crisp as he lead in the no-huddle offense, but he couldn’t run.
When pressured Rodgers would throw the ball away, only getting knocked down once. The Packers offensive line would shutout Khalil Mack and rookie Roquan Smith. This gave opportunities to Packers receivers Davante Adams and Randall Cobb to find open space.
Momentum shifted in the Packers favor when Rodgers threw a touchdown pass to Davante Adams in the fourth quarter with nine minutes left in the game. Only down by 3 points, the Packers Defense needed to stop Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who until the fourth, played very well.
Holding the Bears to only a field goal, Rodgers prevailed connecting with Cobb for a game-winning 75-yard catch and score. The throw was incredible as was the finish.
Rodger’s victory against the Bears was ironically his largest career comeback and potentially his greatest defining career performance. Sunday Night Football was special, a 100-year anniversary celebration between the two rivals that ended in historic fashion.
With victory behind the Packers, Rodgers health moving forward will be an ongoing storyline. Can Rodgers immortal play last throughout the season? I sure hope so because games like this make for perfect television, it’s what makes the NFL great.
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