GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers hasn’t lost his sense of humor or his touch, and the Green Bay Packers quarterback may need both -- plus a quick-healing calf muscle -- to get his team through the rest of this season.
There was Rodgers on Sunday evening, after a slow walk off the field on a bad right calf to go along with his ailing left hamstring, with perhaps his finest performance of the season in his back pocket, quoting the movie “Meet the Parents” as easily and readily as he threw touchdown passes in a 38-10 win over the mighty Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field.
It mattered not at all to Rodgers that his team’s most impressive win this season didn’t get the Packers (7-6) any closer to the first-place Detroit Lions (9-4) in the NFC North. Rodgers instead smiled ear to ear when asked about the Packers’ playoff chances with three games left in the regular season.
“I’d say strong to quite strong,” Rodgers said, mimicking actor Ben Stiller’s line in the movie.
It has been three weeks since Rodgers made his “run-the-table” comment, and the Packers have rattled off three straight wins. In that stretch, Rodgers has seven touchdowns without an interception; he hasn’t been picked off since Nov. 13 at Tennessee. He has completed 73.9 percent of his passes for 768 yards and a passer rating of 123.8 in that stretch.
Rodgers threw only five incomplete passes on Sunday, and of those, only one was the result of an off-target throw, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
By itself, Sunday’s performance was nearly perfect, even after Rodgers tweaked his right calf muscle on the third play of the game, which, by the way, happened to be a 66-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams.
“He's spectacular,” Adams said of Rodgers. “That’s the types of things that he’s always doing. The only way he’s not going to be out there is if he doesn’t have both legs, and even then he’ll probably be trying to run around out there on his knees. The only way he’s not going to be out there.”
It has been weeks since anyone asked the kinds of questions they did of Rodgers early in the season, when just about everyone had an opinion about why he was struggling.
Now, the only questions about him are injury-related. He has dealt with a left hamstring injury since the Nov. 28 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and now it’s a right calf injury that may or may not be as severe as the left calf strain he dealt with late in the 2014 season.
“There's nothing that he can't do,” said Jordy Nelson, who caught two of Rodgers’ three touchdown passes on Sunday. “We've seen it for years now, in practice, in games. So as hard as it is, in a good way, he can't impress us because he does it all the time. Not saying that he can't play well, but I mean he's a gamer, he can play, he can fight through some things. He did a great job tonight.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t taking any chances with his quarterback. He pulled him with 11:46 left and a 28-3 lead in hand.
Even if Rodgers plays like he has been playing of late, it might not be enough to dig the Packers out of their hole. Heading into this Sunday’s game at the Chicago Bears, the first of three straight NFC North games to close the season, their playoff chances remain up in the air despite Rodgers’ comedic response.
At one point on Sunday night, he took on a more serious tone when asked about why he felt this team could run the table when they were 4-6.
“Most of the people in this room probably didn’t believe when I said I think we can run the table,” Rodgers said in the Lambeau Field media auditorium. “But I was confident in our abilities and getting guys back from some injuries that we were going to start playing a little bit better and more of a complete game in all three phases, and we’ve done that, especially two of these weeks, I think. This was an important win for us confidencewise, and then I think it was a good statement to our fans as well [to] stick with us, because there’s a lot of football left.”