The Packers Through the First Two Weeks
The Green Bay Packers’ 2018 season started last Sunday night against their long-time rival, the Chicago Bears. The Packers have high playoff hopes with a healthy Aaron Rodgers returning from injury, and new offensive weapon in tight end Jimmy Graham. Defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson and corner backs Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson also bring a new flair of athleticism to the Packers’ defense.
The game started out slow for Green Bay, with them not scoring at all in the first quarter. Then disaster struck: Rodgers was sacked in the second quarter. Defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris landed on Rodgers’ left knee. Every Packers fan in Lambeau Field fell silent as Rodgers tried to get up, fell back down, and grabbed the back of his left knee. Rodgers was then carted into the locker room. The Bears capitalized on Rodgers’ absence, and with Khalil Mack dominating the field, built a 17-0 lead by halftime.
What seemed like a season turned upside down in Green Bay’s first two quarters of the year was all made right as soon as Rodgers returned for the second half. After a Bears field goal, he was facing a 20 point deficit on a vulnerable, injured knee. The Packers came out in a no-huddle offense that kept Rodgers in the pocket. It was quite visible that Rodgers was in pain, and couldn’t put much weight on his left leg, but that didn’t stop him from throwing three touchdown passes and leading a 20 point comeback. The final score was 23-24, with the Packers on top.
But it wasn’t just Rodgers that lead the Packers to victory. Receivers Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, and Geronimo Allison each had at least 69 receiving yards and a touchdown of their own. Cobb’s 75-yard touchdown was the go-ahead score, with just about two minutes left in the game. Jimmy Graham also drew a lot of attention from the Chicago defense. He only had two catches for eight yards in his Packers debut, but opened up space for other receivers.
This performance by Rodgers and his offense will be a highlight of his already impressive career. Many athletes and celebrities took to Twitter to congratulate Rodgers on his historic and epic performance. Former NFL player Joe Thomas, NBA stars Joel Embiid, Lebron James, a number of others spoke about how impressed they were.
All of the talk leading up to Week Two was naturally focused on one thing: Aaron Rodgers. Would or would he not play? He was eventually was listed as questionable for the game, but Rodgers had said he planned on playing against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer also noted that he intended for Rodgers to play.
By the time the game rolled around, Rodgers had a brace on his left knee and looked in a little less pain than he did last week’s game against the Bears. The brace didn’t seem to affect him, though, as he finished with 281 throwing yards and a touchdown to Davante Adams.
On the opposite side of the ball, Kirk Cousins threw for 425 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception in his second game with his new team. The Vikings came back from a 20-7 deficit at the start of the fourth quarter thanks to three more Cousins touchdowns.
Tied at 29, the Packers had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. K. Mason Crosby was setting up for a 52 yard field goal with 0:04 left in the game. Crosby made five field goals earlier in the game. He made his first attempt from 52 yards, but the Vikings had called a timeout to ice him. He then missed the second attempt as the clock expired; sending the game into overtime.
Here, Vikings rookie kicker Daniel Carlson missed two field goals, including what would have been the game winner from 35-yards out as time expired. The game ended with in 29-29 tie. This was already the NFL’s second tie this season, with the first coming from the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns. The Vikings cut their former fifth-round draft pick the next day, and signed veteran K. Dan Bailey.
The Packers defense had a blocked punt returned for their first touchdown of the game, and also made an interception. The Packers had a few moments that could have given them the win. The first was a roughing the passer call against Clay Matthews in the fourth quarter. The call ultimately negated an interception which would have all but given the Packers the win. Clay Matthews was visibly upset with the call, as well as many other Packers fans. Ex-NFL offensive lineman Joe Thomas tweeted his disgust with the call, as did many others. The NFL made a statement on Monday saying that, “it was the correct call and will be used as a reference video for teaching purposes.” The other key moment that could have given the Packers the win was on a third down in the fourth quarter. The Packers were in a short yarded situation and they needed to pick up the first down to run out the clock. They ran a read option and Rodgers kept it. He and Running Back Jamaal Williams collided, and the ball was fumbled. Rodgers fell on it and was downed in the backfield. If Rodgers would have pulled away cleanly, he would have easily had the first down.
After two weeks, the Packers sit at 1-0-1 tied for first in their division with the Vikings. They visit the Washington Redskins on September 23rd at 12:00 CT.