Did Aaron Rodgers even break a sweat on Sunday?
I suppose he probably did, over the course of a three-hour game that saw him throw 42 passes, completing 34 of them for a franchise record 480 yards and four touchdowns. But the remarkable thing about the way Rodgers has played the quarterback position for the Packers over the last few years is that he does things we’ve never seen before, and it doesn’t even look hard.
As Rodgers was marching the Packers down the field on three straight long touchdown drives in the first half, it looked like he and his receivers were playing a really intense game of catch. Washington’s defense might as well have not even been on the field, because Rodgers just threw everywhere he wanted to throw, and found someone open every time. Over the course of the day Rodgers engineered five touchdown drives and had a sixth that would have gone for a touchdown if not for James Jones fumbling at the 1-yard line.
Amazingly, Rodgers revealed after the game that he was less than 100 percent physically.
“I didn’t feel great before the game,” Rodgers said. “My neck was sore and stiff. I was hurting pretty bad.”
Despite playing through some pain, Rodgers didn’t have any interceptions on Sunday, which has become the norm for him. Rodgers has only had 1.7 percent of his passes intercepted in his career, the lowest interception rate in NFL history. Rodgers has had three different seasons with eight or fewer interceptions, and he’s on pace to do that again this year. Do you realize how hard it is to play a full season and throw so few interceptions? Let’s put it this way: Peyton Manning is probably the best I’ve ever seen at reading defenses, but Manning has thrown more than eight interceptions every year he’s been in the league.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after the game that he knows he’s lucky to have Rodgers running his offense.
“Aaron spoils you. He makes it look easy,” McCarthy said.
Yes he does.
Here are my other Week Two thoughts:
Chip Kelly’s offense is fun to watch, but . . . Maybe the Eagles only looked great in Week One because they were playing a terrible Washington team. In Week Two, the Eagles lost to the Chargers and it looked like the real story in Philadelphia is that the Eagles’ defense is going to lose them a lot of games. The flip side of having a fast-paced offense like Kelly’s is that it makes life rough for your defense when your offense doesn’t sustain any long drives. The Chargers had the ball for more than 40 minutes of Sunday’s game, and the Eagles’ defense looked exhausted by the end.
Richard Sherman proved his greatness. In Week One against the Packers, 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin was unstoppable. In Week Two against the Seahawks, Boldin caught one pass, in garbage time. The difference? In Week Two, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman was covering Boldin. Sherman proved once again what a truly great cornerback he is.
Dontari Poe is a beast. Poe, the Kansas City defensive tackle, sacked Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo twice and showed off an incredible blend of strength and speed in whipping the Cowboys’ offensive line. A whole lot of people criticized the Chiefs for spending the No. 11 overall pick on Poe last year, saying Poe was just a workout warrior at the Combine who didn’t produce on the field. Poe is making those people eat their words.
Washington safety Brandon Meriweather should be suspended for the safety of his opponents — and himself. Meriweather lowered his head and launched into Packers running back Eddie Lacy, knocking Lacy out of the game with a concussion. Shortly after that, Meriweather lowered his head into Packers running back James Starks, and this time it was Meriweather who bore the brunt of the collision, and Meriweather was knocked out of the game. Meriweather has a history of helmet-to-helmet hits, and the NFL needs to say enough is enough and suspend Meriweather before he seriously hurts someone else, or himself.
Let’s appreciate history. During Sunday’s Eagles game, the official Twitter account of Monday Night Football compared Eagles running back LeSean McCoy to Barry Sanders.
Shady McCoy could be the closest thing to Barry Sanders we've seen.—
ESPN Monday Night (@ESPNMondayNight) September 15, 2013
I like McCoy and think he looks good in Chip Kelly’s offense, but get real: I knew Barry Sanders. Barry Sanders was a favorite player of mine. LeSean McCoy is no Barry Sanders. Barry Sanders led the league in rushing four times, was second in the NFL in rushing three times, was third once, fourth once and fifth once. That’s right: Sanders played 10 NFL seasons and was a Top 5 rusher all 10 years. McCoy is in his fifth NFL season, and in his first four years he never led the league in rushing, never was second and never was third. He was fourth in the league once, in 2011, and other than that has never been in the Top 10. I think we’re too quick sometimes to anoint every good player as a future Hall of Famer. McCoy is a fine rusher, but he’s not Barry Sanders. Not even close.
Mario Williams had a monster game. Williams was in Cam Newton’s face all day and was a huge part of Buffalo’s 24-23 win over Carolina. His 4.5 sacks were a career high and broke a Bills franchise record that was previously shared by two great pass rushers, Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett. Williams hasn’t always lived up to the massive contract Buffalo gave him last year, but he earned his play on Sunday.
Give credit to Philip Rivers. Rivers, quarterbacking a Chargers offense that’s depleted at every position and became even more depleted when receiver Malcom Floyd went down, played a fantastic game against the Eagles. Rivers completed 36 of 47 passes for 419 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and he led the drive that got San Diego into position for a game-winning field goal in the closing seconds. Unlike Aaron Rodgers, Rivers doesn’t make it look particularly easy — it felt like an epic struggle as Rivers willed the Chargers to victory. But after Rodgers, Rivers was the next-best quarterback in the NFL on Sunday.