4 Downs: Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers more mobile, but pain stays the same
Every week I’ll share four observations the day after the Green Bay Packers' game. Here they are after the Packers’ 22-0 victory Sunday over Buffalo:
Aaron Rodgers moved noticeably better Sunday than he had the last two weeks, even though he said after the game that his injured knee didn’t feel any better. On his first scramble of the day, a seven-yarder early in the first quarter, he was able to run rather than drag his injured leg as he’d been doing the past two weeks. He ran five times for 31 yards on the day, and coach Mike McCarthy said he even called a bootleg for the first time since Rodgers’ injury. But Rodgers said the pain in his knee wasn’t appreciatively less than it had been. “Adrenaline kicked in, I felt fine,” he said. “Not a whole lot different. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.” Rodgers practiced last Thursday, his first midweek practice since sustaining the injury. That appeared to be a good sign that his knee was improving, but he said he practiced more to give the team a lift. “It wasn’t like I was feeling tremendously better,” he said, “just felt like we needed a little jolt, so I should practice.” Still, judging by his running gait, he was feeling at least a little better. He has two more games until the Packers’ bye.
The Buffalo Bills had no chance in this game with rookie Josh Allen (36.3 rating Sunday) at quarterback. He was horribly overmatched going against Rodgers, who wasn’t particularly sharp. It made you wonder how the Bills had won in a blowout at Minnesota the week before. Well, in that game, Allen’s game-opening touchdown drive was helped by two personal fouls on the Vikings. Then the Bills strip-sacked Kirk Cousins on each of the Vikings’ next two possessions, once at the 15 and once at the 25, setting up two easy scores and a 17-0 lead. Without that kind of help Sunday, Allen couldn’t do anything. His interception at the Packers’ 3 near the end of the second quarter was as bad a play as a quarterback can make — he was running to his right and tried to throw back across the field 30 yards. It had no chance, allowed Jaire Alexander to make an easy pick and cost the Bills three badly needed points. The Packers will face a much tougher challenge this Sunday against Matthew Stafford and the Lions.
One of the Packers’ two new cornerbacks, Bashaud Breeland, was inactive Sunday, but the other, Tony Brown, played on special teams. With Randall Cobb (hamstring) out for this game, rookie receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling was bumped up to the No. 3 receiver role, which meant he was going to play a lot on offense. The Packers clearly wanted him focused on that and not worn down by special teams as well — he has been an effective gunner on punt coverage through three games. Brown, who ran a 4.35-second 40 coming out of college at Alabama, replaced him in that role. Brown didn’t make the stat sheet but was effective at beating the jam and getting downfield fast.
Mason Crosby made two 52-yard field goals Sunday, giving him 31 50-yard-plus makes in his career. Sebastian Janikowski holds the NFL record for 50-yard-plus makes with 55.