Aaron Rodgers was far from perfect.
And in a sense, that’s the best news for the Packers.
Their former MVP quarterback was not himself, but still led his side to a comfortable 23-16 win over the Giants.
Rodgers’ stat line was pretty bad actually, completing 23 of 45 passes for 259 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
And while his talent makes it easy to point to others as the reason when things aren’t smooth, one thing should be clear — he didn’t play all that well tonight. There were throws he simply shouldn’t have tried, but having gotten away with them in the past, there’s also not that much reason for him not to try.
But he made a handful of those throws that he is uniquely able to make, that that was enough. He was playing against a Giants secondary which was injury depleted and got more so as the night went along (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie couldn’t really run, but definitely couldn’t stop quickly).
And while it wasn’t the kind of performance we’re accustomed to from Rodgers, it was one the Packers needed to see, and overcome.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. After a week spent putting him under the microscope, we didn’t really notice Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. tonight until the fourth quarter.
That’s not necessarily the worst thing for the Giants.
While a lack of emotional outbursts was good, there were also not all that many plays made until the final three minutes. He had four catches for 48 yards with a long of 16 yards before his fourth-quarter touchdown.
It’s worth noting that after his late score, he didn’t celebrate, he didn’t preen, he didn’t draw any attention to himself at all. After it was upheld by review, he even went over to a nearby kicking net and hugged it and kissed it, a nod to his punching a similar piece of equipment (who fought back) earlier this year.
He should have been affectionate, as it was his first touchdown of the year.
So as it turns out, Beckham the lover is better than Beckham the fighter. Hopefully, he keeps it that way.
2. Speaking of missing parts of the Giants offense, they miss Rashad Jennings in the worst way.
The veteran running back was inactive again because of a thumb injury, which keeps him from catching passes or pass-protecting with any effectiveness.
And even though he hasn’t been great this year (3.3 yards per carry this season), he’s the closest thing the Giants have to a legitimate every down back, especially without Shane Vereen, who is on injured reserve with a torn triceps.
Without Jennings, there’s no balance to their offense, and if quarterback Eli Manning isn’t sharp (he wasn’t), they struggle.
3. Of course, some of the credit for that goes to the Packers, who lead the league in run defense.
They were allowing just 42.7 yards per game and 1.8 yards per carry entering the game, numbers which led the league by large margins entering the game.
Inside linebackers Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez haven’t been great this season, but they have been solid, at least enough so to allow Clay Matthews to play outside again without hesitation. And with a front that has been very good, it gives the Packers a much more stable base than they’ve had in recent years.
4. For all the attention paid to the return of Jordy Nelson this year (and rightfully so), it was wide receiver Randall Cobb who bailed Rodgers out a number of times Sunday.
Cobb had nine catches for 108 yards, but took a big shot before the two-minute warning.
It was a tough play, allowing the Packers to kneel out the clock. But they wouldn’t have been in that position without him.
5. It wasn’t the debate. Which means only one team lost.