I Don't Believe What I Just Saw.Posted:Sep 10th, 2018 2:06 pm
I've been fortunate to witness some amazing moments in Packers history since Brett and Reggie rescued the franchise. I celebrated in the stands for two Super Bowl wins, an NFC championship in Soldier Field and some memorable regular season victories over the years. But the roller coaster of emotions that accompanied the greatest comeback in Packers history will always sit near the top of that list.
It's hard to describe the feeling at halftime, having just seen Aaron Rodgers carted off the field and DeShone Kizer get completely owned by Khalil Mack, turning what might have been, at worst, a 10-3 deficit into a 17-0 hole. Was Rodgers done for the season? Was the season over before it started? Will Mack singlehandedly revert the Bears into the Monsters of the Midway? Where oh where was Brett Hundley when you needed him?
Spent halftime refreshing Twitter on my phone. How bad is it? What are the early medical reports? And then the roar. The deafening roar. Here comes Rodgers out of the tunnel, Jogging across the field. You could see a medical sleeve on his knee, but he was freaking jogging.
My first thought was, ok, he's going to try to gut it out, clearly bothered by the knee--the same one that got cleaned up three years ago. What if he looks good for a series or two and then crumples to the ground for good? On the other sideline, Tarik Cohen was holding a drool bucket under Mack's face, to prevent flooding (I imagine this is close to being true).
But then we were reminded how unbelievably fortunate we are to watch a master of his craft operate, assisted by a huge shot of adrenaline and an understanding that he would have to change his approach if he wanted to stay vertical.
Suddenly, the protection got better. Suddenly, Rodgers found Allison streaking down the sidelines and laid a perfect pass in his arms. Suddenly, Mack, Floyd, Hicks et al were nowhere to be found. Suddenly Davante Adams took his turn and made two big plays to bring the Pack within one score. Suddenly the defense made plays and got key stops when they absolutely had to have them. And suddenly, on third and ten, after Kyle Fuller dropped the easiest interception he will ever get, Rodgers bought just enough time to find Randall Cobb, who did what he does, YAC all over the field, scampering 75 yards to give the Pack an unbelievable lead--a lead the defense was able to hold in the final two minutes.
We always get caught up in Super Bowls, post-season success and rivalry games. Big picture, the artistry at quarterback we've been fortunate to watch over the last 25 years, week in and week out, is what will always stay with me, as someone who loves football. We know that every week we might see magic happen. Every week. I'm old enough to remember what it's like to love a team that doesn't have that. Being a Packer fan in the 70s and 80s felt how it must feel like being a fan of, say, the Dolphins over the past 20 years.
We all figured we'd never see a Packer quarterback like Brett Favre in our lifetimes. But it's undeniable that Rodgers is better, maybe the most talented to ever play the position. What he did on Sunday night, as the Pack began its 100th season against its oldest rival, will live forever in Packers lore.
As Rodgers started to bring the Packers back, a funny thing happened. The Pack's defense fed off the energy Rodgers delivered. After surrendering 160 yards in the first two series, Pettine's unit gave up just 160 the rest of the way. You knew they'd be up against it early, as any defense would be--facing a new coach's system and a whole bunch of new offensive weapons, with 15 scripted plays that had been massaged over the past month. But when it counted, they made just enough plays down the stretch to allow Rodgers to do his thing.
There were some issues: the run defense was not great, with Jordan Howard averaging more than five yards per carry. There were too many missed tackles, by just about everyone. There is still a serious issue with the pass rush. And then the roughing the passer penalties: first Wilkerson, then Perry and then Matthews, whose ridiculous penalty on fourth and long gave the Bears new life and could have cost the Pack the game.
But overall, Pettine's unit made enough adjustments and found their footing, aided by Nagy's conservative play calling in the fourth quarter. He'll toss and turn thinking about the call on third and one--a pass play that had no chance. It forced them to settle for a field goal, keeping the Pack within six. Two minutes and change left, no timeouts, and Rodgers gimpy. First down, incomplete. Second down, incomplete. Third and ten, over the middle to Cobb--to the house. The unthinkable comeback was complete.
Now we wait to hear the extent of Rodgers' injury. He assured all of us that he would be on the field against the Vikings, but we'll wait to hear what the medical team has to say. At the very least, his mobility will likely be extremely limited for a few weeks, which will be a problem in Week 2. Fortunately, we aren't facing the prospect of heading into that showdown already 0-1 at home in the division. Rodgers made sure of that. Did he ever.