Aaron Rodgers no longer has to do everything so that the Packers can be competitive; they’re a more complete team than they’ve been in a while. But it still took two late vintage Rodgers throws to seal their win over the Seahawks in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Green Bay saw a 21-3 halftime lead evaporate as the Seahawks did what they always do: make games dramatic down the stretch. But when the Packers needed him most, Rodgers came through in the clutch, the same way he has throughout his career.
Battling a fierce Seattle defense and questionable playcalling from his own coaches, Rodgers made two perfect throws that converted third downs and allowed Green Bay to kill the clock and win, 28-23.
Here’s how it went down.
Two clutch throws saved the Packers’ season
With 2:32 on the clock and the ball on their own 20-yard line, the Packers did the smart thing first: they ran the ball. Aaron Jones picked up 2 yards and the Seahawks called a timeout. But then the Packers’ made an odd decision and called a pass on second down. Rodgers had to throw the ball away to avoid a sack, stopping the clock.
The Seahawks had two timeouts and also the two-minute warning to count on if the Packers couldn’t convert. They dialed up a pass play on the pivotal 3rd-and-8, and it produced an absolute beauty of a throw from Rodgers to Davante Adams.
Adams drew single man coverage for most of the game, and he beat that coverage for most of the game, with eight catches for 160 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Rodgers knew that Adams was going to win that route, and the single-high safety wasn’t close enough to do anything about it.
But the game was hardly done there. Adams went out of bounds, which stopped the clock. That prompted two runs from Jones for just one yard, bringing the game to the two-minute warning after the Seahawks burned their second timeout.
So naturally, this time facing a 3rd-and-9, Rodgers threw another beautiful pass, this time to tight end Jimmy Graham, who just barely got the yards he needed for the first down.
There was a lengthy review, but officials said that Graham got the ball past the sticks, allowing the Packers to kneel out the win.
Clutch Rodgers performances like this are significant because it seems like the Packers haven’t needed many of them this season. They have more functional supporting players surrounding Rodgers than they’ve had in a long time, which means Rodgers has to do less by himself.
For Packers fans, it’s has to be nice to know that Rodgers can still take control of a game to win it. He did exactly that on Sunday, and he’ll have a chance to do it again when Green Bay travels to Santa Clara to face the 49ers in the NFC Championship.