Greatness is what we expect from Aaron Rodgers week in and week out.
They say the NFL quarterback has the toughest job in all of sports, but most of the time, Rodgers makes it look easy. As Packers fans, I think we take this for granted sometimes.
Last week, the former MVP tied a franchise record and passed for 480 yards. He also threw for four touchdowns, zero interceptions, and completed 81% of his passes.
Rodgers currently has a 105.1 passer rating this season and is on pace to have a fifth season in a row with a passer rating over 100. He’s the only active quarterback to do this.
To put it frankly, the man is a machine. He has played at such a high level for so long that I think we forget what a bad game looks like from number 12.
This is why we’re all so shocked on the rare occasion Rodgers has a bad day. Heading to Cincinnati, we assumed Rodgers would post another 300-plus, 3-touchdown performance. He’d protect the ball and pick apart a stout Cincinnati defense. The Packers would leave with a win, because after all, they got number 12 at the helm.
Well, if Sunday showed us anything it is that even Aaron Rodgers is human and has an off day. The Bengals defense is a highly underrated group and got the best of Rodgers this week. As my colleague Andrew Windsor pointed out, the Bengals pressed the Green Bay receivers and got consistent pressure with their talented four-man front.
Cincinnati sacked Rodgers four times and registered eight quarterback hits. The Bengals defensive line was dominant and the Packers offensive line didn’t have an answer for the likes of Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap.
It was clear Rodgers was frustrated and uncomfortable in the pocket all game. Rodgers seemed on edge and even got into a confrontation with Coach McCarthy after a first half drive failed to convert a touchdown in the red zone.
This wasn’t the same even-keeled Rodgers we’re used to seeing on Sunday. He threw two interceptions–one receiver James Jones admitted was his fault–but the other was clearly a forced pass in tight coverage to Randall Cobb near the sideline. This pass seemed desperate and head scratching considering the Packers were already up 10 points in the third quarter and in scoring range.
Rodgers just seemed off throughout the game. He looked a little more like his fallible predecessor on Sunday than the highly-efficient field general we’re accustomed to seeing. He seemed jumpy and rushed his throws even when there wasn’t always pressure.
Rodgers’ 64.5 passer rating was his lowest since the NFC championship game against the Chicago Bears in 2010. It was also the first time Rodgers threw two or more interceptions in a game since this meeting.
So was Rodgers’ poor performance in Cincinnati an anomaly?
It certainly seems so. History will tell us that Rodgers won’t have a poor performance like this one again this season. The good news here is that despite their best player struggling the Packers were still in the game and only lost by a fluke Bengals fumble return touchdown at the end of the game.
This won’t happen again. Rodgers will bounce back. The Packers will be fine.
Even an MVP-caliber quarterback has a bad game once in awhile.