Perhaps you missed that final pass during Sunday’s Packers vs. Cowboys playoff game.
Rodgers rolls left, eludes a deluge of defenders, buys all the time in the world as he often does and then reach a streaking Jared Cook running across the field, all with merely seconds on the clock. It lets kicker Mason Crosby come out to break a tie-in as day expires and, thus, propels Green Bay into Sunday’s NFC Championship game.
It was the kind of play only a Dorm of Fame-bound quarterback could complete. But what makes the toss even more impressive and demonstrates why Rodgers is in a class of his own right now is that he made the whole thing up.
Cobb said the final play was not an actual playcall. Rodgers merely told each receiver what to do, like a kid drawing in the dirt. Seriously.
Robert Klemko (@ RobertKlemko) January 16, 2017
That’s right. He just made the whole thing up on the fly. Like you’d do on the playground. Except Rodgers is doing it on football’s grandest stage, all while dodging 300 -pound human bullets sprinting at freakishly high speeds who want nothing more than to tear his head off.
Rodgers is out there playing arguably the best football of his career. He’s led the Packers out of a tumultuous, early-season nose dive right into a formidable playoff run and, more importantly, he has his squad within one step of the Super Bowl.
Such has become the ethos of Rodgers, a Hail Mary-tossing, championship belt-totting, X-Men reserve who has the Herculean coordination to swat a single fly with a golf club.( OK maybe not, but you get the point .) He’s out-shined the three stellar quarterbacks still standing with a holster of depleting weapons, and he’s making a strong argument at becoming one of the best postseason quarterbacks to ever play the game.
Not convinced? Let’s review the evidence.
The humble cast
To say Rodgers isn’t getting much assistance around him isn’t wholly fair to his teammates. But if you think Green Bay’s offense is comparable to, let’s say, the high-flying attack of a squad like the Atlanta Falcons, you’re sorely mistaken.
Rodgers has been operating with a plug-and-go list of players around him. Star wide receiver Jordy Nelson opposed offseason knee surgery to get back on the field this year, fellow grab-and-dash receiver Randall Cobb has been been on and off with an ankle trauma and Eddie Lacy a bulldozing truck once considered one of the best running back in the league has become all but forgotten after ankle surgery placed him on injured reserve in October.
That laundry list of traumata would render most NFL offenses useless, and for most teams, trying to move the ball against playoff-caliber defenses without starring talent is about as effective as trying to pierce the side of a blimp with a butterknife.
The traumata are, yet again starting to pile up before the Packers’ game Sunday, but none of it has slackened Rodgers thus far. He threw for four touchdowns against the Giants in the divisional round and two to frustrate the playoff favorite Cowboys last weekend.
But you really merely need to watch one pass to see what Rodgers is capable of.
The Hail Rodgers
There’s a specific reason they call it the “Hail Mary.”
Put simply: It’s not supposed to work. The Hail Mary is a last-ditch prayer of a play that is most often reserved for the most desperate of situations. In reality, the ball more often than not lands in the other teams’ hands.
That’s not the case for Rodgers, and he indicated why at the end of the first half against the Giants two weeks ago.
With seconds to go before halftime, Rodgers stood at midfield, stepped up and let go a heave toward the endzone. The ball rose through the air, parted the cloud and starrings, received a kiss by the ghost of Vince Lombardi himself and then fell gently into the hands of Cobb for touchdown as day expired. If you don’t believe it, then merely watch the video for yourself.
Spectacle is routine when you’re talking about Rodgers. Much like the grin-wearing, light-hearted gunslinger named Brett Favre who arrived before him, Rodgers has the uncanny ability of stimulating the difficult play look like it’s something the common man could do in the parking lot. As scouts would say, he discovers a route to stimulate the players around him better, which alone is no easy feat to achieve.
But can he win it?
Winning a Super Bowl takes as much luck as it does skill. And if you’re Rodgers, you seemingly can create your own luck.
Thing is, the three other teams remaining in the playoffs have impressive quarterbacks themselves. The Falcons boasting the most-potent offense in the league behind Matt Ryan, while Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh’s cast of explosive weapons aren’t too far behind.
Then there’s Tom Brady, of course, who carries the entire Patriots roster on the strength of his arm year after year , no matter how much day and age try to get in his way.
All will make for stiff competition for Rodgers, who’s looking to go to and win his first Super Bowl since 2011. But by the lookings of things right now, this is Rodgers’ league and everyone else is just playing in it.