Vintage Aaron Rodgers Performance Shows You Can't Count out the Packers Yet

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 13, 2020

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 12: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-23 in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 12, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

He's been called washed, done, old news.

It's been said that quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have passed him by. Maybe that's true.       

Supposedly, he's not the offensive epicenter of his team any longer. He's more of an ornament.

Aaron Rodgers this season was thought to be deader than Curly Lambeau.

But there was Rodgers in the divisional round of the playoffs Sunday, putting the Packers on his back again in a 28-23 win, connecting with one of the most underrated players in football in receiver Davante Adams and beating a stubborn Seahawks team by edging that squad's own superhero, Russell Wilson.

Well done, State Farm.

No, Rodgers isn't the old Rodgers. But he's still formidable, and the way he played in this victory over the Seahawks shows that the Packers might—might—have a fighting chance against the 49ers in the NFC title game.

"I'm going to enjoy a nice glass of scotch tonight," Rodgers told Fox's Erin Andrews after the game.

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Make it a double, old man. You earned it.

And pour one for Adams, too. He had eight catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns. The receiving yards were a Packers playoff record. He was uncoverable.

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 12: Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-23 in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 12, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty I
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Granted, all that was against a Seahawks defense that ranked 27th in pass defense during the regular season—not against Richard Sherman and the 49ers, who ranked first. The last time Green Bay and San Francisco met, in late November, the 49ers defense held Rodgers to 104 yards on 20-of-33 passing and Adams to seven catches for 43 yards. The Packers got steamrolled 37-8 in that game.

It may seem absurd to think Green Bay has a chance against San Francisco this time. Like science fiction.

But Rodgers gives them a chance no matter how badly the 49ers beat him earlier this year. He gives them a chance because he is still Aaron Damn Rodgers, and he ain't dead yet. Not when he's feeling the old magic and making throws like the ones he was down the stretch Sunday.

He connected on two huge third-down throws in the fourth quarter to keep the ball moving and run out the clock on the Seahawks. One went to Adams on 3rd-and-8 for 32 yards, and the second went to tight end Jimmy Graham on 3rd-and-9 to put the game away. On that play, Rodgers took a hard shot and still delivered.

"Just clutch throws," said head coach Matt LaFleur.

It doesn't get much better than the throw and catch on the Adams third-down conversion:

Rodgers was 6-of-6 for 145 yards and two touchdowns on throws more than 10 yards downfield Sunday, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That is the second-most attempts without an incompletion in his career (7-of-7 against the Vikings in 2013). And the Packers were 9-of-14 on third down (64 percent).

The Packers' other Aaron was a big factor too, especially in the first half. Aaron Jones ran 21 times for 62 yards and two touchdowns. It's been discussed over and over, but that's important, especially now. The Packers are well-rounded, maybe more well-rounded than any Packers team in decades. They are getting some from the running game, some from the defense and some from Rodgers.

It used to be that Rodgers had to put on a cape and carry everyone. He was the entire Justice League. Now, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Flash are finally pulling their weight.

Do the Packers have enough firepower to beat the 49ers? Few teams do.

What's certain is this Green Bay team is different from the one bashed by the 49ers weeks ago. This doesn't mean Green Bay will win. This just means the Packers have evolved.

They are not perfect, and they aren't the most explosive team in football, but you would be a fool to underestimate them.

Or Rodgers.

Even though he's broken down, the anti-big truss, woo woo.

Rodgers is done, right?

Right?

        

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.

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