Aaron Rodgers wasn’t perfect in the Green Bay Packers‘ loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8, but he still made plenty of throws that showed why he’s an MVP candidate this season. These were the five best from last Sunday.
It’s far less fun to break down a game after a loss, even when you’re discussing the mastery of Aaron Rodgers. It seems odd to celebrate beauty when the overall product was so ugly.
And, to be fair, Rodgers didn’t play a flawless game in his own right, either.
Still, he showcased his arm talent, arm strength and quality touch again throughout the loss to the Vikings, the best of which are featured in this week’s Fave Five.
4Q: Davante Adams, 7 yards, TD
We start this week with the best of the best, and that was a perfect pass to keep the Packers alive late in the fourth quarter.
There isn’t any window to speak of for Rodgers to throw this ball through. Rookie safety Josh Metellus (44) is draped all over Davante Adams, effectively screening him from the quarterback. Despite this, Rodgers gets the precision and touch perfectly correct on this throw, dropping it into a hole the size of the eye of a needle so Adams can catch it for the score. While not a perfect comp, this one felt somewhat similar to a 2016 touchdown pass to Adams against the Philadelphia Eagles.
4Q: Malik Taylor, 26 yards
That last Adams touchdown, his third of the game, was partially set up by a crucial third-and-long conversion to Malik Taylor.
Taylor gets separation in part due to an apparent injury to cornerback Kris Boyd (29), but you have to appreciate Rodgers trusting his young, unproven receiver in this spot. Robert Tonyan clears the middle of the field with a vertical route from the inside slot while Turner runs the dig part of the dagger concept, and Rodgers times it up just right to connect with his target for the big gain. Plus, the throw comes with the pocket caving in on him. Good stuff on a down the Packers needed to have.
3Q: Robert Tonyan, 45 yards
Speaking of Big Bob Tonyan, he was the recipient of the Packers’ longest pass play of the day.
Sure, a catch and run in stride would have been preferable here, but you’ll take a 45-yard pickup on second down and 17 yards to go. This is a gorgeous rainbow of a throw down the field without even stepping into the throw. It also helps to have no defenders anywhere near the intended receiver, but this is a pretty pass regardless of coverage. He may not be the fastest, but Tonyan has developed into a capable deep-threat weapon, something Green Bay desperately needs.
3Q: Equanimeous St. Brown, 12 yards
Our next pass is one that was important for the narrative of Sunday’s game, but also for the rest of the Packers’ season.
Equanimeus St. Brown has struggled since being activated from injured reserve a couple weeks ago, including recording two drops on catchable balls against the Vikings. Since the Packers didn’t add any weapons at the trade deadline, though, he must be a positive factor in the passing game going forward. Despite the drops, Rodgers goes back to him on fourth down here.
QB1 takes some time in the pocket, waiting for someone to work open and create separation. Since Minnesota only brought pressure with three linemen Rodgers has plenty of time, then places this ball up and away from the target where only EQ could make the catch. That’s a lot of confidence from Rodgers to trust St. Brown to catch this dart on a crucial down.
1Q: Jace Sternberger, 13 yards
Let’s wrap things up with a little pizzazz on a first-quarter delivery.
The “Only Patrick Mahomes can do this” narrative is played out in many circumstances, but so is the “if Mahomes did this everyone would lose their minds” counter narrative. It’s all unnecessary. However, when you see the first example in the wild, remember that No. 12 in green and gold can still get fancy with his footwork, too.
It’s another fourth down (the first one of the day, chronologically speaking) so the Packers need to have this. Rodgers manipulates rookie cornerback Cameron Dantzler with his rollout to the left; you can see Dantzler flow toward Tonyan in the flat. Rodgers still has the athletic ability and arm talent to leap, twist in the air and deliver the ball accurately to Jace Sternberger for the first down. There’s nothing easy about making a throw while contorting yourself like this, but he’s able to complete the play anyway.
With the defense still struggling, the Green Bay offense needs to be pristine down the stretch to counterbalance it. That means even more mastery from Aaron Rodgers in crucial situations. The Packers didn’t execute well enough to win in Week 8, but Rodgers still has the ability to be a difference maker in the clutch.