Magnificent Rodgers Carries Offensive Load

With the running game a nonfactor, Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb destroyed St. Louis' top-five pass defense. Nelson and Cobb have been dominant the last two weeks, helping Rodgers post numbers as good as any he posted during his MVP campaign.

The calendar has changed. Some of the names have changed, too.

But what hasn't changed is the Green Bay Packers' offensive dependency on Aaron Rodgers and his passing game.

With running back Alex Green seeing little daylight in gaining just 35 yards on 20 rushes — and that's including his 15-yard dash — it was up to Rodgers to carry the load.

And carry it he did.

Rodgers was sensational in tearing to shreds the St. Louis Rams' fifth-ranked pass defense in Green Bay's 30-20 victory. He finished 30-of-37 for 342 yards and three touchdowns, giving him a two-week tally of 54-of-64 for 680 yards, with nine touchdowns, no interceptions and a 140.8 rating. Had Rodgers been able to connect with James Jones in the end zone in the final 2 minutes, he would have had back-to-back games of six touchdown passes and four touchdown passes, a feat not achieved since Len Dawson in 1964.

So much for those, "What's wrong with the offense?" questions.

"The thing is, last year, he spoiled the NFL, man," Jones said of Rodgers. "So, the standard for him is sky-high, and he built that for himself by being so good. The things he did last year, they expect him to do that every year. It's the National Football League. Then you see the last two weeks, and you're like, ‘Where's that been at?' But he's been playing well. It's just, somebody's got to take the blame when you're losing and not playing well."

The Rams' defense certainly is not as good as its pregame numbers, which were fattened up by three games against rookie quarterbacks and a fourth against Arizona's Kevin Kolb. But with two elite pass-rushing defensive ends in Robert Quinn and Chris Long and a cornerback group featuring standout veteran Cortland Finnegan, a decent veteran in Bradley Fletcher and two promising rookies in Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, it's not like the Rams' defensive cupboard is bare, either.

They were no match for Rodgers, whose 16 touchdown passes in the last four games top by two scores his best stretches from his MVP season of 45 touchdowns.

In the first half, he completed 13-of-15 passes for 165 yards and one touchdown. One of those two incompletions came on a clock-killing spike.

But that was just the warm-up act.

— He completed 17-of-22 for 177 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.

— After going 2-of-5 on third down in the first half, the Packers went 7-of-10 in the second half.

— The third-down efficiency translated to 21:04 of possession time after just 11:54 in the first half.

— He engineered drives of 12, 10 and 10 plays, turning those into a touchdown, field goal and touchdown, respectively.

A passing attack that struggled without Greg Jennings is now thriving. Jordy Nelson caught 8-of-9 targeted passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. Cobb caught 8-of-8 targeted passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Combined, Rodgers has thrown them 39 passes during the last two games. They caught 32 of them for 434 yards and six touchdowns.

Jones, coming off three consecutive games of two touchdown receptions, didn't get into the end zone and caught "only" 6-of-10 passes for 53 yards. There were some big receptions, though. On the Packers' opening drive of the second half, Jones had a 13-yard reception for a first down, a 17-yard reception on third-and-1 for another first down and a 2-yard gain that led to Cobb's 5-yard score that made it 17-6. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jones had a 6-yard catch on third-and-2 that helped set up a field goal.

The 12-play drive to start the second half was the turning point. Nursing a 10-6 lead at the break, Rodgers converted a third-and-8 with an 18-yard pass to Nelson, the aforementioned third-and-1 to Jones and a third-and-6 with a 9-yard pass to Nelson. On the touchdown, Cobb torched Jenkins with an outside-inside move to get open.

"I told Tom Clements on the sideline that that drive at the beginning of the second half was our best drive of the season," Rodgers said. "Not just because it was an important one, which it was, gave us a two-score game — but we had to go the long way. We had to go 80 yards and it was methodical and we converted third downs. We need drives like that. We've had some big plays, we've had some quick-strike scores, but against a real good defense, to be able to in the second half, when we needed scores, take drives down the field, keep them going and finish them off was important for us and a good growth experience for us."


Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.


Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


Packer Report Top Stories