Kirby Lee/USA TODAY

Seahawks’ Defense Turns MVP Packers QB Aaron Rodgers Into JAG

The Seahawks’ stellar defense made extraordinary Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the passing attack look ordinary in three games at Seattle.

If Aaron Rodgers is Superman, then there’s a warehouse full of Kryptonite located in Seattle.

Rodgers’ 106.3 passer rating ranks No. 1 in NFL history by a mile, a whopping 8.6 points better than second-place Tony Romo. He’s thrown 4.02 touchdowns for every interception. No other quarterback has even thrown 3.0 touchdowns per pick, with Tom Brady next at 2.77.

Yet against Seattle, Rodgers doesn’t look like a two-time MVP. He looks like a JAG — just another guy.

In losing the “Fail Mary” game in 2012, the season opener in 2014 and the NFC Championship in 2014, Rodgers has completed 68-of-106 passes — a solid 64.1 percent — but for just 590 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. That equates to a passer rating of 72.3. That’s barely better than the league-best 70.4 rating allowed by Seattle since the start of the 2012 season. In the NFC Championship Game, when almost any offensive production could have put away the Seahawks by halftime, Rodgers finished with a rating of 55.8 — less than half his regular-season mark of 112.2.

During his weekly conversation with reporters on Wednesday, Rodgers didn’t have much interest in reliving that history. At least this time the game will be played at Lambeau Field. Rodgers truly has been Superman at Lambeau Field, with a league-record 36 touchdown passes since throwing his last home interception on Dec. 2, 2012.

“It's football,” Rodgers said. “You've just got to execute. It's tough to win on the road. We've been a formidable opponent at home. You've got to take care of the ones you get at home.”

Seattle’s Richard Sherman has played a key role in all three of those games. Rodgers didn’t even throw in Sherman’s direction in last year’s Week 1 game and Sherman had an interception in the NFC Championship Game when Rodgers took a shot downfield as he (rightly) thought he had coaxed the Seahawks offside for a free play.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Sherman said when asked about the team’s success against Rodgers in a conference call. “We just play hard. He’s a phenomenal player. We just play as hard as we can and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t think we do anything particularly different. He gets his plays because he’s the best quarterback in the world. We’ve got to fly around and try to make our plays when they’re there.”

Asked about his defense’s success, coach Pete Carroll laughed while recalling that Rodgers tied an NCAA record by completing 23 consecutive passes when Rodgers was the quarterback at California and Carroll the coach at USC.

Those Trojans defenses, however, didn’t have Sherman at cornerback, Earl Thomas at safety and a linebacker corps with the speed to rival most defensive back groups. That defense has taken away the deep passing game and mostly eliminated the run-after-catch, leaving Rodgers averaging only 5.57 yards per attempt, which has meant meager passing totals despite excellent completion percentages. Rodgers has taken what's there and the Seahawks haven't yielded much beyond that.

“We’re just playing the way we play,” Carroll said in his conference call. “He’s a great football player and they’re a terrific team and offense, and we’ve just fortunate at times. I don’t know about the numbers so much but we’ve always had difficult games and challenges and all that, and we’ll count on that again for sure.”

For Rodgers and the Packers, getting past Seattle would be huge. While the players may be right in saying there’s not a mental hurdle against the Seahawks, they might be thinking differently if they were to lose at Lambeau Field, where they mostly dominated the competition last year en route to a 9-0 record.

“I think I've been a part of 30-some-odd losses as a quarterback, so every one of those sticks with you,” Rodgers said. “It's frustrating when you put so much into it and you come up short. But it's a new season. When we get back here in April, you starting thinking about the 2015 team. I just heard we're the second-youngest team. It's a new group. There's always new players every single year. You're trying to add to the mix and hold on to the guys that you've got. We did a good job of that this year. They've got a couple new players. That's just the way the NFL goes.”

Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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