Putting the proper spin on Aaron Rodgers' uncanny completion to Jake Kumerow
GREEN BAY - Aaron Rodgers, hands stuffed in the pockets of his charcoal hoodie, had the unmistakable disposition of a man less than impressed.
Upon request, the Green Bay Packers quarterback was dissecting his 34-yard pass to receiver Jake Kumerow in the first quarter of Sunday night’s win at Kansas City. The pass Rodgers threaded to a receiver who was completely covered. The pass, most notably, that seemed to make a right-hand turn midway through the air, like a perfect fade from a Tiger Woods tee shot.
“Some of those throws,” coach Matt LaFleur said, “just leave you speechless, to be honest with you.”
Rodgers, standing at his locker Wednesday, was not speechless. He also lacked any discernible awe.
Watch the video, and Rodgers' pass seems to slice away from Chiefs safety Daniel Sorenson, who closely shadowed Kumerow. From Rodgers’ view, there is no apparent window to fit a pass to his receiver.
Then, near the top of its arc, the football started slicing as it dropped to the right.
Rodgers said the football’s trajectory was aided by a left-to-right wind. He thought that helped push it in a “helpful direction.” Still, the football’s final destination was maybe the only place Kumerow could have caught it. This was pinpoint accuracy, suggesting something more than blind luck.
“The righty’s ball, especially rolling to the right,” Rodgers explained, “naturally tails a little bit to the right. If you get a good spin on the ball, it should fall a little bit right, and the wind was kind of helping from the left as well.”
Kumerow sounded no more impressed. Just run the route, he said. Right place, right time. He acknowledged it was “up there” as one of the best catches in his career, but wouldn’t confirm it was No. 1.
The Packers studied the coaches’ film, a distant shot that shows all 22 players on the field. So neither Kumerow nor Rodgers had seen the TV copy, specifically NBC’s tracker on the football.
In the moment, Kumerow said, he couldn’t tell that the football was tailing away from him and Sorenson.
“Just locked onto it and tried to watch it in,” Kumerow said. “Hands to the tuck. Yeah, just trying to lock in on the ball, and make sure I tracked it.”
Rodgers said he was not trying to slice the pass. As he rolled from pressure, eventually releasing the football as Chiefs defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah dragged him to the ground, Rodgers said he was just wanted to put the football in a place where only Kumerow could catch it.
The result was a pass that might have been Rodgers’ most impressive this season. The quarterback did something to the football usually only reserved for pitchers with a baseball.
No big deal.
“It just depends on the angle,” Rodgers said. “If you throw it more over the top, you usually get a little bit more of that right-hand turn. If you drop it down a little bit, you can straighten it out a little bit. In that situation, I wasn’t necessarily in the moment thinking I would throw a curve and to the right. I was aware of the wind direction and tried to put it in a spot where he could come up with it, and he made a nice catch.”