Aaron Rodgers, mostly because of a porous offensive line in front of him, was a disaster in the first half of the Green Bay Packers’ 17-9 win over the Seattle Seahawks Sunday.
But it was his second half that helped save the day, his statistics, and the offensive line (which played much better in the second half).
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With a line in front of him that continuously struggled under the pressure applied by the stout and very good front seven of the Seahawks, Rodgers also struggled to find open receivers and found himself running for his life.
By the time the dust had cleared and the first half ended, Rodgers had been sacked four times, completing 14-of-22 passes for 153 yards – a good outing for many QBs in the NFL, but not for Rodgers. His quarterback rating of 65.2 was way below the numbers to which most have become accustomed from Rodgers.
Rodgers’ escapability and his ability to make plays out of nothing is legendary, but on this day against Seattle, his struggles were obvious.
To rattle Rodgers is difficult, but one could see the Seahawks’ defense was doing its best. There were several sightings of Rodgers hanging his head, challenging receivers on the routes they ran, and Rodgers being pummeled by defensive attackers.
There was even a rare Rodgers interception thrown into the mix when his dump-off attempt over the middle went right into the belly of Nazair Jones, who proceeded to run untouched to an apparent pick-six – what would have been only the second such theft and touchdown thrown by Rodgers in his entire career.
However, a personal foul and ejection penalty against the Seahawks negated the six points and forced the Seahawks to take over with a first down at midfield.
The Packers defense then took over and forced a three-and-out. Not only did the Seahawks not get the touchdown, but they ended up punting to the Packers – it was a huge turnaround in this contest and provided a boost to the Packers.
Because of the inability to sustain drives due to penalties and sacks in the first half, Rodgers worked his magic in the second half, mostly due to the receivers gelling with Rodgers and better protection from the makeshift line in front of Rodgers.
Though his stats were nearly identical to those in the first half (14-for-20 for 158 yards), it was Rodgers’ quarterback rating that jumped more to Rodgers-like at 110.0.
Rodgers’ best quarter was the third, when he was 7-of-9 for 75 yards, which included the beautiful touchdown strike he threw to Jordy Nelson on a down when the Seahawks gave the Packers a free play.
During that third quarter, Rodgers’ QB rating jumped to 138.4.
On third down in this game, Rodgers overall was 6-of-9 for 109 yards (66.7 percent, and 12.1-yard average), and one touchdown. He was sacked twice on third down and had a QB rating of 145.1 on third down plays.
Again, Rodgers used his legs to help carry the team. He rushed only seven times for 21 yards, but three of those carries helped extend drives with first downs.
In the end, Rodgers finished with an overall rating of 86.5, which is very respectable considering the rough start the team had Sunday.
While Rodgers heroics in the second half helped Green Bay to a win, it was the defense that really saved the day.
Green Bay travels to Atlanta to help the Falcons open the league’s newest stadium next Sunday. Rodgers, no doubt, will be himself against another stout defense. If the Packers are going to go 2-0 they will need Rodgers to once again get protection and time to make plays, but the Packers appear to also have a great need for its defense to play like they did Sunday.
Harassing Matt Ryan would be a good thing and could help the Packers get over the recent losses to the Falcons and send them on their way toward a playoff-caliber record.
Stay tuned …