What we learned: Aaron Rodgers lifts Packers to win
The Green Bay Packers ended their four-game losing streak, keeping their playoff hopes alive with a 27-13 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12. Here’s what we learned on Monday Night Football:
1. Along with his sterling showing at Atlanta in Week 8, this was Aaron Rodgers‘ finest all-around game since September of last season. Rodgers unholstered his entire arsenal against a swarming Eagles defense allowing a league-best 9.5 points per game at home. He was surgical from the opening bell, whistling tight-window throws to Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson and Jared Cook, and moving the chains by scrambling on key third downs. Battling through a hamstring injury sustained in the middle of the third quarter, Rodgers strangled the life out of Philadelphia’s comeback efforts, leading a pair of clinching scoring drives composed of 30 plays, 153 yards and nearly 15 minutes on the game clock.
As historically porous as Green Bay’s defense has been over the past month, Rodgers’ steady improvement has gone virtually unnoticed. He’s been vintage since the second half of the Bears game in Week 7, completing 180 of 268 passes (67.2 percent) for 1,904 passing yards (7.1 YPA), 196 rushing yards a 17:3 TD-to-INT ratio and a 104.1 passer rating over the past six games. As for the hamstring tweak, Rodgers was nonchalant after the game, insisting he’ll be “good to go next week.”
2. Carson Wentz won’t win NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance, which qualifies as tangible progress for a Packers defense that paved the way for Marcus Mariota and Kirk Cousins to capture that honor in the past two weeks. Buoyed by the healthy return of All-Pro linebacker Clay Matthews and top cornerback Damarious Randall, Green Bay shut down Philadelphia’s rushing attack, sacked Wentz four times and prevented the chunk plays that have haunted their recent nightmares in the passing game.
Is this a one-game aberration or a sign that Dom Capers’ defense has turned the corner? We might have…