Aaron Rodgers continued his MVP-caliber season in Week 17, leading the Green Bay Packers to a 35-16 win over the Chicago Bears to wrap up the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers didn’t crumble under pressure in Week 17, instead facing a rivalry game with a ton on the line with an utterly dominant performance. With a chance to earn a first-round bye, Rodgers came out firing and tortured the Chicago Bears through the air yet again, to the tune of four more touchdown passes and a 147.9 passer rating.
That makes it a franchise-record 48 touchdown passes for the likely MVP this season.
The offense looked crisp, especially in the first half and in the fourth quarter, and Rodgers was able to manipulate the Chicago defense with both his arm and his mind this week to lead Green Bay to victory. There hasn’t been any doubt about MVP honors for several weeks now, but in case anyone needed some last-minute convincing, QB1 came out with a persuasive performance even the most believable deep web conspiracy theory couldn’t top.
Plenty of throws deserve recognition this week, but we’ve whittled it down to our final Fave Five of the year. Completions only, like usual, so a downfield dime that was dropped isn’t up to snuff despite Rodgers doing his job. If your favorite didn’t make the cut, let us know with a tweet to either Game On Wisconsin or to yours truly.
2Q: Robert Tonyan, 3 yards, TD
All four touchdown passes were gems this week and all four made the list. We’ll go through them chronologically, so we begin with touchdown reception No. 11 for “Bobby” Tonyan this season.
All the moving parts work in unison to achieve this score. After the play fake, you have Tonyan and Davante Adams mesh in the back of the end zone, with Tonyan beating Duke Shelley (20) like a drum to separate. Rodgers flicks his right wrist and hits Tonyan in the chest for six. But the TV broadcast view only tells part of the story. Thus, we need to take a look at the coaches film for this one.
Now we see Rodgers truly work some magic. He’s got quality protection inside, but Billy Turner eventually gets beaten off the left edge by Robert Quinn (94). Rodgers can feel the hit coming, yet is still able to fire off a dart of a throw across his body with precision. This shows good toughness in the pocket and tremendous arm strength in limited space.
2Q: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 72 yards, TD
Nobody has more 70-yard receptions over the past two seasons than MVS. His most recent one came this Sunday on a back end of a gorgeous deep ball from Rodgers.
This week on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, co-host Nate Burleson called Aaron Rodgers “the best deep-pass quarterback of all time.” He absolutely lived up to that hype with this second-quarter touchdown. At the most basic, granular level, this is simply exploiting a favorable matchup. It’s insanely favorable, in fact, because a linebacker covering MVS is a defensive death wish. Rodgers recognizes the blitz from Shelley out of the left slot, hangs in the pocket and still delivers a perfect strike roughly 35 yards down the field from where he released it.
ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky put together a good breakdown of Rodgers’s magnificence on this play in a Twitter video this week.
Hey pay attention pic.twitter.com/Ssd1wHZnsH
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) January 5, 2021
2Q: Dominique Dafney, 13 yards, TD
Nobody on earth predicted that two Indiana State Sycamore tight ends would score touchdowns for the same NFL team in the same game this season (or any season). But Tonyan and Dominique Dafney made sure to put Terre Haute, Indiana on the map this week.
FOX’s Daryl Johnston nearly had an apoplexy over this play when it unfolded. Dafney simply runs a slant from the inside slot right and nobody on the Bears defense picks him up. That allows him to coast into the end zone, where all he has to do is flash his hands and he’s got the first touchdown of his career. You can see Rodgers check the entire field, as he noticeably looks far right before coming back to Dafney over the middle. He’s backing up with the defensive line getting a decent push against the protection, but even off his back foot he throws a perfect pass on target for his third touchdown of the game.
4Q: Davante Adams, 6 yards, TD
You knew Adams would make an appearance as the featured receiver at some point.
From the team that brought you “leaving Davante Adams one on one with Buster Skrine inside the 30-yard line” comes a new, instant classic, “leaving Davante Adams one one one at the six-yard line.” This is effectively Chicago waving the white flag. Adams beats Kyle Fuller (23) on the slant, and from there it’s pitch and catch for the top quarterback-receiver duo in the league this year. Rodgers knows he has the matchup advantage outside, quickly scans the field and then slings a pass on target for the touchdown. It’s all just poetry in motion right now for the Green Bay offense.
1Q: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 15 yards
Our only non-touchdown in the Fave Five this week is another installment of Rodgers throwing against the grain for a first down.
This pass is aided by the fact MVS is wide open after camping out in a soft spot in the Bears’ zone. Rodgers gets flushed out to the right because of the pass rush, and while rolling that way he sees MVS. As he runs across the near hash, he fires a seed on a perfect line to his target. He did a good job keeping the play alive with his legs and his eyes, never putting them down and keeping his options open, and it pays off with a conversion on the Packers’ opening drive.
Aaron Rodgers was simply spectacular in Week 17, from his perfect 10-of-10, three-touchdown effort in the first half to a pair of dagger drives in the fourth quarter. He’s far from the only reason the Packers are the favorites to win the NFC this year, but his sensational play week in and week out is the biggest contributing factor to why Green Bay is so scary this postseason.