Rodgers shows leadership skills on field, leads Pack to win
PHILADELPHIA — Aaron Rodgers threw perfect passes, ran for key first downs and did all his talking on the field.
Nobody will question his leadership this week.
Rodgers had 313 yards passing and tossed two touchdown passes to Davante Adams to help the Green Bay Packers snap a four-game losing streak with a 27-13 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night.
The two-time NFL MVP openly criticized his teammates while the losses piled up, causing people to point the finger back at him for the way he handled it. But Packers coach Mike McCarthy praised his quarterback’s approach.
“His positive attitude has been consistent through all this time,” McCarthy said. “He’s grown as a quarterback since the start of 2008, and grown as a person all the way through. He’s an excellent leader, always has been.”
Rodgers hasn’t had a losing record since his first season as the starter replacing Brett Favre. He’s led the Packers to seven straight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl title. But the team’s recent struggles and some of Rodgers’ comments made him a target for criticism.
“It’s been a rough stretch,” Rodgers said. “We’re human, so you lose a few in a row and doubt starts to creep in whether or not you can actually finish one of those games off. So for us to finish it off the way we did on offense the last two drives, defensively to come up with a stop, and to finish out the game with a couple of sacks was great for our confidence.”
Green Bay (5-6) wasn’t losing because of Rodgers or the offense. The defense allowed at least 30 points in each of the four previous games and 89 in the past two. Injuries on both sides of the ball didn’t help the situation.
Rodgers made sure the Packers started fast, leading them to touchdown drives on the first two possessions. They took hostile crowd out of the game early and became the first team to win in Philadelphia (5-6) this season.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers only managed a field goal against the Eagles in Week 3. Matt Ryan and the Falcons had their lowest scoring output (15 points) here on Nov. 13.
The victory kept Green Bay’s sinking playoff hopes alive but the Packers are still two games behind the Lions (7-4) in the NFC North.
“There’s a big difference between 4-7 and 5-6 for sure, but I hope there’s not a ton of relief because we still have a lot of things in front of us we’d like to accomplish,” Rodgers said. “This is a step in the right direction, a game we needed to take care of business, but we have a short week with Houston coming in and we have to have a similar performance.”
Rodgers showed off his accuracy under the prime-time lights, going 30 for 39. He made two passes to Adams that will make all the highlight tapes.
Rodgers threw a perfect 20-yard TD pass to Adams to give the Packers a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. Nolan Carroll had excellent coverage on the play, but Rodgers put the ball in a tight spot and hit Adams in stride in the back of the end zone.
After Ha Ha Clinton-Dix intercepted Carson Wentz in the third quarter, Rodgers connected with Adams again. Adams was covered well on a deep pass, but Rodgers threw it in the right spot and Adams made an outstanding over-the-shoulder catch for a 50-yard gain.
“When Aaron gets in a rhythm and he starts finding guys … and making great throws, that’s the offense we’re accustomed to having,” tackle Brian Bulaga said.