Just Another Night in Paradise in Mr. Rodgers' NeighborhoodPosted:Sep 29th, 2015 3:33 pm
What, me worry?
OK, if you read my preview blog or listened to me on the radio in the days leading up to the game, you know I was a little nervous about this one. No, I didn't expect the home winning streak to end, but I thought a few intangibles were pointed the Chiefs' way.
Like the 11 day break after a heartbreaking loss for KC, while the Pack may have been ripe for a letdown after the big win over Seattle. Like the fact that Morgan Burnett was out, testing the run defense against a motivated Jamaal Charles.
None of that mattered because Rodgers is playing quarterback as well as anyone ever has right now. And Dom Capers' defense was up to the challenge, led by the big guys up front, Daniels and Raji (the return of Letroy Guion this week should make the line even stouter).
Let's start with Rodgers, who had 208 yards passing and three touchdowns in the first half. His counterpart, the guy who was drafted first in Rodgers' draft had 39 yards at intermission. Rodgers' complete mastery of the position is a wonder to watch. He once again got a team (twice) for failing to get a guy off the field fast enough; his hard count once again paid big dividends.
Then there's his mastery once the ball is snapped to him. John Gruden couldn't stop talking about his feet and when you watch him dance, tiptoe, sprint and slide you see opposing defenses really have no chance. The Chiefs' secondary certainly didn't, especially after losing CB Gaines early. Rodgers just stayed way from precocious rookie Marcus Peters and feasted on everybody else.
It was alarming early, as Davante Adams re-injured his ankle and Eddie Lacy was a little gimpy. But the offense didn't miss a beat, with Cobb, Jones and Montgomery finding the holes and Rodgers finding them early and often.
The defense was spectacular in the first half, forcing three and outs on the first three series and not allowing a third down conversion in the first half. With the linemen doing their job up front, the linebackers were free to attack Smith, which they did all night. Seven sacks, and he was under duress all night.
For the second straight week, the run defense dominated a top five running back. No Burnett? No problem on this night. They held Charles to 49 yards on 11 carries--26 of those coming in the final minute of the first half when Smith refused to take shots downfield and handed off to Charles for garbage yards that the defense was happy to yield. Nate Palmer looks the part next to Clay Matthews and even newly signed Joe Thomas, forced into action when rookie Jake Ryan left with a hamstring injury, made his presence felt with a sack and a few other big plays.
The negative takeaway from the night was the injury to four players: Ryan, Adams (ankle), Quarless (knee) and Datone Jones (head). If we have to live with all of them missing the next three games, but being back (along with Bulaga) after the bye, I'd take that right now. I think the Pack should be able to win the next three without them (at SF, St. Louis and San Diego at home). They come out of the bye with three tough road games in four weeks and could use a predominantly healthy roster, if at all possible.
Back to Rodgers for a moment: last 580 passes at Lambeau, 48 touchdowns and no interceptions. Think about that for a moment. Then tell me who will go down as the better quarterback: Rodgers or Favre? Ten years from now, I don't even think it will be an argument (unless you're Bill from St. Paul or someone of his ilk). Watching a healthy Aaron Rodgers week after week is a treat that we'll be telling our grandchildren about someday.
It's on to San Francisco for the first of possibly two visits this season. Rodgers returns to his boyhood neighborhood with a score to settle against the team that chose not to draft him and the one that has dominated the series in recent years. Yep, that should be enough to guarantee another vintage Rodgers performance. Is it Sunday yet?