Only Injury Could Stop Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers was having a monster game until an injured hamstring turned close game into a blowout victory for the Saints. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said his injured left hamstring “wasn’t a big deal ultimately.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy, however, said Rodgers was “definitely affected.”

Judging by the before-and-after statistics, McCarthy’s response is probably closer to reality.

Before the injury, which Rodgers sustained on a scramble on the Packers’ first drive of the third quarter, he was 14-of-19 for 298 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 133.1. After the injury, he was 14-of-20 for 120 yards, with no touchdowns, two interceptions and a rating of 45.8.

On the first play after the injury, a second-and-goal from the 5, Rodgers was trapped in the pocket. If healthy, maybe he escapes. Instead, he threw the ball away. On the next play, his pass to tight end Andrew Quarless was deflected by cornerback Corey White and intercepted by linebacker David Hawthorne. If healthy, maybe the pass hits Quarless in the numbers for a touchdown rather than going to helmet level, which allowed White to get his hand between Quarless’ hands for the deflection.

“We kept him in the ‘gun,” McCarthy said of the play-calling adjustments. “Obviously, didn’t really even get into the play-action game and obviously scratched off all of the quarterback movements. He was limited, just the play from the pocket and hand the ball off.”

Beyond the numbers, the biggest impact was on the scoreboard. Before the injury, the game was tied at 16 with Green Bay having a first-and-goal from the 6. Less than 13 minutes of game time later, the Saints turned Rodgers’ second interception into a touchdown and a 21-point lead.

McCarthy, with a long-term view in mind, said there was discussion of replacing Rodgers after the injury. According to backup quarterback Matt Flynn, Rodgers said he was “hurting but not injured” and decided to stay in the game. He wound up throwing for 414 yards and limping in for a 14-yard touchdown run.

“It was just ... not really any options,” Rodgers said. “It was continue playing. As long as I could hold up, I felt like I could (perform well) and was able to run one in there somehow. If It would’ve been real detrimental to my health for the season, I probably would have told Coach to take me out, but I felt like I could still go.”

The bye obviously comes at a good time for Rodgers. He smirked when asked if the injury might change his bye-week plans, so it’s possible he remains in Green Bay to receive treatment. Either way, Rodgers made it clear. When the Packers return to action to face Chicago on Nov. 9, Rodgers will be under center.

“I’m not going to miss any time,” he said.

Meanwhile, starting right guard T.J. Lang sustained a sprained ankle on the first series and was replaced by Lane Taylor. McCarthy didn’t have any updates on Lang. Taylor was beaten on the failed fourth-and-1 run late in the third quarter.

Three defensive starters, safety Morgan Burnett (questionable; calf), cornerback Sam Shields (doubtful; knee) and defensive end Datone Jones (out; ankle) were inactive. Of the three, Burnett had the best chance of playing but, upon boarding the plane for New Orleans, McCarthy said he “didn’t have a lot of confidence” that Burnett would play.

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.


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