Roy Ben-Joseph Journal Staff
It was in the summer of 2008 when the residents of Green Bay, Wisconsin, woke up to shocking news. Their long time franchise quarterback and future hall of famer, Brett Favre, had asked the team to release him after 17 seasons and one Super Bowl ring. It was clear at the time that the 24th overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, Aaron Rodgers, who spent the previous three seasons as backup for Favre, was going to take over.
In the beginning, the fans did not take the news too well. The rest, however, is history. In 2010, Aaron Rodgers would lead the Packers to a victory in Super Bowl XLV and win the MVP award on the way. The next season, Rodgers would lead the world champion Packers to a 15-1 regular season record, a franchise high, and win the NFL MVP award.
Entering play in Week 6 of 2012, the Packers and their reigning NFL MVP entered play with a 2-3 record which marked the first time in many years they have a record under .500. After a stunning loss in Indianapolis in Week 5 in which the Packers lost an 18-point lead at the half time, doubts began to surround the ability of Aaron Rodgers to recreate his 2011 season. The Packers faced the Houston Texans, who had a 5-0 record for the first time in franchise history, looking to extend the perfect season. The Texans defense, which was ranked third entering play, had suffered a huge loss in All-Pro Linebacker Brian Cushing who tore his ACL in a Week 5 game vs. the Jets. It was soon clear that instead of the game being a celebration of the Texans franchise, that it would be Aaron Rodgers’ show.
The Packers started the game in a storm with two quick touchdown passes by Rodgers in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead. After Houston running back Arian Foster ran for a one yard TD to cut the lead in half, Rodgers threw another 21-yard pass to Jordy Nelson to give the Packers a 21-7 lead. A Shane Graham 51-yard field goal made it 21-10 Packers at the half time. The second half was once again exclusively the Aaron Rodgers show, as he threw for three more touchdowns, tying a career high six TD passes. Overall, Rodgers was 24-for-37 in passing for 338 yards and six TD’s. It was the much improved Packers defense, who last year ranked last in the league and set an NFL record for yards given up, that stopped Houston QB Matt Schaub, who went for 20-for-33 with two interceptions and no TDs. The game also featured the two sack leaders in the NFL, Clay Matthews III from the Packers and J.J Watt from the Texans. The Packers ended up crushing the Texans 42-24 with 437 total offensive yards against the third ranked defense in the NFL. As Aaron Rodgers looked like the man who won the MVP award last year, it is safe to assume that he has completely beaten any vestige of criticism.
In the other prime time game, the San-Diego Chargers hosted the Denver Broncos and future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. The Broncos were coming off a loss in Foxboro to the Patriots in Week 5, and Peyton Manning still had to deal with some questions as to whether he could recreate his performance from before his neck surgeries that caused him to miss all of the 2011 season. Three hours from the start, the game became another big milestone in Manning’s rich career. At half time, San-Diego was up 24-0. Never in his career has Manning overcome such a deficit. In the second half, we saw a different Manning. We saw the old sheriff who was known not only for his arm but also for his greatest weapon, his brain. The way Manning took over and designed the plays, occasionally changing plays at the line of scrimmage, using the famous and unique Manning language and signs, caused huge confusion on the Chargers side which drew a few offside penalties. Manning looked in full control out there and reminded everyone of the man from the Indianapolis Colts who won a NFL-high four MVP awards. The Broncos scored 35 unanswered points to win 35-24 after trailing 24-0 at half time. Overall, Manning threw for three touchdowns and one interception with 309 passing yards. The Broncos also scored on defense twice after intercepting Philip Rivers four times.
In Week 7 the New-England Patriots offense might be on the edge of NFL history. If the Patriots offense will earn more than 300 total offensive yards, that will mark the 16th consecutive game which Tom Brady and company do so. That would tie them with the 1999 St. Louis Rams, the famous offense put together by offensive coordinator Mike Martz and led by QB Kurt Warner that was nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf”. This St. Louis team went on to win Super-Bowl XXXVI in the same year. Patriots fans can only hope for the same results in the 2012 season as they are about to tie this legendary Rams team.