How Aaron Rodgers never saw wide-open Nelson
Aaron Rodgers knew the coverage before the ball was snapped.
The Buffalo Bills would keep only one safety deep, man-to-man. Rodgers saw the Bills "check" their defense, but not everyone in Buffalo's secondary was on the same page.
"Everybody got the check," Rodgers said, "except for Corey Graham, who was playing a two-shell style to his side."
Lined up across Jordy Nelson, Graham thought the Bills were sticking with their original coverage. He protected against an underneath route, expecting help from a safety deep. Graham was wrong.
Everyone, it seemed, saw Nelson streaking wide open down the right side of the field. Which made it surprising when Rodgers threw a pass to Randall Cobb – his primary target – on the opposite side.
"As Jordy runs free up the right side, all I saw was Randall running free," Rodgers said Tuesday on his weekly ESPN Milwaukee radio show. "After I saw the check presnap, I was thinking that in one-high, man, if I come up off the fake, look to Randall, hold the safety and throw it outside to Jordy. That was my thinking, but I came up off the fake and Randall was running free by himself. So I never got back to Jordy in my progression."
It's become an automatic this season. When Nelson gets open deep, Rodgers finds him. Usually, the play is a touchdown.
Rodgers and Nelson have connected for seven scores of at least 40 yards this season, more than any other quarterback-receiver duo in the NFL. Which made this maybe the most shocking play of Green Bay's season. Instead of a touchdown, Rodgers' pass to Cobb was intercepted, snapping a streak of 203 passes without a pick.
"Unfortunately, if I had peeked outside, that's a big play if not a touchdown," Rodgers said. "Then the throw (to Cobb) was obviously not a very good throw, so unfortunate that Jordy was running free there. If the guy was running with (Cobb) stride for stride, then I'm going to get off and go to Jordy, but because nobody ran with him I just got stuck on Randall and then threw a bad throw.
"If I throw a good throw there, he maybe catches it and breaks free, at least has a big gain. It's a little bit better than missing a wide-open touchdown, but if you throw an interception and miss a wide-open touchdown, it's kind of a double whammy there."
-firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood