Vintage Aaron Rodgers returns, and now the Packers have life – ESPN

 In Sports
PHILADELPHIA — The subject was Aaron Rodgers, and the two people discussing him not long ago were Tom Brady and another prominent NFL figure. Brady conceded to the man that Rodgers had much more physical talent than he had. Brady assured him — half-jokingly — that if Rodgers had the benefit of the New England Patriots system and the Bill Belichick think tank, he would throw for 7,000 yards every year.

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At the top of his game, leading the Green Bay Packers as assertively as Brady leads the Pats, Rodgers was always a fascinating performer to watch. He had the wheels to break away from defenders and race for a first down, yet he was more of a dancer than a sprinter. He was Baryshnikov in the pocket, making bigger, angrier invaders miss with his beautiful ballet.

Only lately Rodgers hasn’t been all that easy on the eyes. His team had lost four straight, and the quarterback who told his panicking fans to “R-E-L-A-X” two years ago had no right making the same plea. The Packers walked into Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night with no running back to speak of, no world-class speed at receiver, and no reason to believe their dreadful defense could stop even an offense as limited as the one being run by Eagles rookie Carson Wentz.

Rodgers was a bit of a problem, too. His season had been defined by relatively bad aim, relatively bad body language and reported fractures in his family relationships. He was playing under a persistent cloud, and he needed a whole lot more than his seemingly desperate boast that his then-4-6 Packers could “run the table” over their final half-dozen games to escape it.

So this is why it was so much fun to watch No. 12 look like No. 12 again, opening Monday’s 27-13 victory with two touchdown passes to Davante Adams on his first two drives and punctuating the first with a fist pump and the second with a Tiger Woods uppercut. Did you happen to catch that second one? It’s pretty hard to believe Adams happened to catch it in the back of the end zone with Nolan Carroll draped all over him.

Aaron Rodgers posted his second-best Total QBR (92.6) of the season, and his best since Week 3, in the win over the Eagles. James Lang/USA TODAY Sports

Rodgers has spent his career throwing balls into what football people like to call tight windows, but this window was all but sealed shut. How many quarterbacks in the history of the game even attempt that 20-yard throw, never mind complete it to a covered receiver who was blinded by the stadium lights?

“I couldn’t see the ball until the last millisecond,” Adams said. The receiver would tell Carroll, whose back was to the incoming pass until, well, the last millisecond, “The ball just landed in my lap.”

Rodgers didn’t have the pleasure of watching it live, but while on his back he listened for the crowd reaction to tell him the story. “It was a small cheer,” the quarterback said, “so I figured either something good happened or it was incomplete.”

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