Ok, so Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers’ much-celebrated quarterback, completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes yesterday – everyone was sure to point that out.
He was the first to say that he was upset with his own performance. He admitted he played well below the bar he has set.
“It was bad. I wasn’t on today. I didn’t make a lot of good throws. We’ve got to do a better job there,” Rodgers said
But none of that really matters. He’s the league’s MVP and there’s no taking that away from him. His value to the Packers is immeasurable, his impact on the game growing each week.
All of that was embodied in a single play from Sunday’s 31-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
With the Packers clinging to a 7-point lead, they were in the middle of a promising drive that featured a team that was running the ball well and a team that seemed to be getting stronger with every play.
Rodgers dropped into the backfield after the snap and handed off to James Starks who made a cut through the initial wall of defenders and into the second wall where flailing arms resulted in the ball being stripped. As the ball hit the ground, so did several players who attempted their best flops and bounces in their attempt to gain possession, only to watch as the ball squirted away and fell lonely and silent onto the Lambeau Field turf where it lay for what seemed an eternity – until a streak of white jersey came sliding headlong into and onto the ball.
It was Rodgers.
Risking life and limb, in a single moment Rodgers gained the respect of every Packers player and football fan watching. Not only did he recover the football that kept alive a multi-play 75-yard touchdown drive, but he also resuscitated a team that was wallowing – a team that needed a single spark to propel them to a much-needed win.
And that’s why Rodgers is not only the most important player on the field at any given time for the Green Bay Packers, but he is fast becoming the face of the league.
Yes, he completed only 14 of his 30 passing attempts in this win over the Cardinals, but his passer rating was respectable, 96.9, and his four touchdown passes is something the majority of NFL QBs would die for. So, yes, Rodgers’ day was very un-Rodgerslike, but that’s OK … for the MVP. That’s how it should be. He should be dissatisfied with that. He’s done much better in the past and will do so again in the future.
That’s what MVPs do.
“I need to play better in the second half of the season,” Rodgers said. “You can’t have the kind of missed throws that I had today and expect to be able to win consistently.”
We’ve all come to expect only the best from Rodgers. He knows it and so does his coach, Mike McCarthy – even though he was a bit surprised and frightened by Rodgers’ play.
“It scared the hell out of me, frankly,” PMcCarthy said about the fumble recovery. “When I saw him dive in there, I just thought the worst. I think it tells you about him as a football player, which I obviously have great respect for that. He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played, but I get paid to worry and I was worrying. That was a heck of a play by Aaron.”
His teammates felt the same way … as did the fans.
Everyone realizes that it’s Rodgers’ ability to throw touchdown passes, his ability to evade the rush, his ability to use his legs to pick up crucial first downs, his ability to lead a group of men to continued success – those are the things that help bring notoriety.
But it was that single play Sunday when Rodgers handed off and then dove into our hearts that continues to be and will define his legacy. We won’t forget the simple things, the things that make him our Most Valuable Player. When he saw that loose ball bouncing around among 300-pound football players, he didn’t care. He did what he had to do to help his team. His unselfish act was a simple one, but one that could go a long way in helping this team continue to roll toward a division championship and the playoffs.