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Mike Vandermause column: Effective run game makes Rodgers even more lethal

Jan. 6, 2014
 

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Green Bay Packers' James Starks runs for a touchdown in the third quarter. Dan Powers/Post-Crescent Media

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers felt lousy when he woke up Sunday morning.

Rodgers never would have guessed he would get out of bed, drive to Lambeau Field and proceed to tie the franchise record with 480 passing yards in the Packers' 38-20 rout of the Washington Redskins.

"I didn't feel great before the game," Rodgers said. "My neck was really bothering me, it was stiff. ... I was hurting pretty bad."

Rodgers thinks he might have slept on his neck wrong, but after he received a pregame chiropractic adjustment, there was no stopping him.

"I've got to thank my guys in the training room," Rodgers said. "Once the adrenaline started going, just kind of got into a rhythm."

Rodgers threw for 335 yards on 26 completions in the first half alone. The Packers took their foot off the gas in the second half, so there's no telling how many more passing yards Rodgers could have generated if the game was competitive.

His yardage total tied former Packers backup Matt Flynn, who set the team record in the 2011 regular-season finale against Detroit.

"I don't mind sharing that with an old buddy of mine, Matt Flynn," Rodgers said. "I'm sure I'll get a text later about that from him."

The only other quarterback in NFL history besides Rodgers to throw for 480 or more yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a game was the New York Giants' Y.A. Tittle, also against Washington, in 1962.

Rodgers, however, thought he could have done better.

"I felt like I threw the ball accurately, but that was in part due to the fact that we were protected pretty well and guys were getting open," he said. "I don't think this was my best game. I'm very happy with the accuracy and the way things went in the passing game. But we definitely have things to work on."

Rodgers said his receivers, who picked up extensive yardage after the catch, deserve credit for padding his totals.

"Aaron spoils you," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "He makes it look easy. He was on point all day. I thought the communication, just all the little things went right. But he did a great job distributing the football."

James Jones (11 catches, 178 yards) and Randall Cobb (nine catches, 128 yards, one touchdown) put up monster numbers, but Jermichael Finley (six catches, 65 yards, one touchdown) and Jordy Nelson (three catches, 66 yards, two touchdowns) were also major contributors.

This is the kind of dangerous, multi-faceted, virtually unstoppable offense the Packers had in mind when they assembled so many talented pass-catchers. But Rodgers is the trigger man, and his consistently stellar numbers suggest he will go down as one of the game's all-time greats.

"We see it every day in practice," Nelson said. "We probably see more in practice than what he's able to do in a game because you just have more reps. He makes our job easy."

The Packers' effective running game made Rodgers even more lethal in the passing game.

"I don't know what he ate, I don't know what he did, but he's the MVP of the league for a reason," said Jones of Rodgers. "Some of this stuff might surprise you guys, but it don't surprise us."

The Packers' double-barreled pass-run punch bludgeoned the Redskins defense into submission, with Rodgers serving as the primary hit man.

"He is one of the best, if not the best in the league," said Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. "He showed it today. What really makes him good is the synch and synergy that he has with his receivers and that was on display today, unfortunately."

It leaves future Packers opponents facing one daunting question: If Rodgers can do that when he's under the weather, what's going to happen when he's feeling good?

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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