Watching Aaron Rodgers play quarterback is like watching LeBron and Steph play basketball. It's like watching Mike Trout play baseball. Like watching Sid the Kid play hockey. That's it. Now Rodgers goes into Jerry Jones' stadium, where Rodgers played one of his dream games and won his only Super Bowl, and becomes Jerry's worst nightmare. The team of the season in the NFC against the team of the moment. The best team, from September on, against the best player, playing quarterback better than he's ever played it in his life. And no one has ever played quarterback more memorably than he has.
Rodgers and the Packers rolled the Giants at Lambeau on Sunday, 38-13. He threw four touchdown passes, one of them a Hail Aaron -- what else are you going to call it from now on? -- to Randall Cobb on the last play of the first half. The Giants were the better team early. But they could only get field goals instead of touchdowns. There were two prominent drops by two of the Justin Bieber All-Stars, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. So the Giants were only ahead 6-0 when it should have been more. Then Rodgers bought time the way only he could, and moved away from trouble the way only he can when he has his legs underneath him, and threw one to his left to Davante Adams. He was on the board at old Lambeau. He was getting hot on a cold Lambeau day.
And then on the last play of the first half, Rodgers did what he'd done to the Lions last season at Ford Field when he threw a Hail Aaron to Richard Rodgers, and what he did with two of those passes in the playoffs against the Cardinals, both to Jeff Janis. On Sunday, Rodgers threw one half the field and the Giants let Cobb get behind them, and in that moment, it was as if Rodgers and Cobb were just having a game of catch at the end of practice.
"We're better with 18 on the field and he showed it tonight," Rodgers said when the game was over, talking about Cobb, who missed the last two regular-season games because of a bum ankle.
On FOX after the game he said, "That got us going."
It was the Reverse Nicks. The last time the Giants and Packers played a playoff game at Lambeau, in a season when the Packers were 15-1, Eli Manning threw the same kind of pass at the end of the half to Hakeem Nicks. Nicks got behind the Giants and the Packers never really recovered, and the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl that year. This time, Eli had to watch Rodgers do it to the Giants. New York never recovered on Sunday, even when it got the game to 14-13 in the third quarter after Packers coach Mike McCarthy elected to go for it on fourth down from his own territory and Eli burned them with a touchdown pass to Tavarres King two plays later.
It looked like a game … for about 10 minutes in real time. Because there was Rodgers bringing the Packers right back and throwing another one to Randall Cobb and Cobb was high-kicking into the end zone. Now it was 21-13 and the Giants weren't going to score another point this year. And Rodgers -- whose team was 4-6 and gone after a dumpster fire of a loss to the Redskins on Nov. 20, who said that the Packers were going to run the table from that point on -- was on his way back to Arlington, Texas, for a big game in the middle of January this time, and not the first Sunday night in February.
Now, Rodgers has thrown 44 touchdown passes this season, against seven interceptions. Hasn't thrown an interception in eight games. I thought for sure a month ago that Tom Brady should be the MVP for this season, even having missed the first four games because of Deflategate. But Rodgers is the most valuable player in his sport this season, just for what he has done over the past seven games. Not Brady. Not Derek Carr or Ezekiel Elliott or even a good Boston College man like Matt Ryan. It is Rodgers, who has all the game in the world and somehow upped that game when his team needed him to do that.
He lost Jordy Nelson on Sunday because of a cheap shot to Nelson's ribs at the sideline by Giants defensive back Leon Hall. But Rodgers got back Cobb, who caught three touchdown passes. Rodgers has made a star out of Adams and he is making a star out of a kid with the wonderful name of Geronimo Allison. He is moving in the pocket again. He is buying time. He is making plays, short and long. And still throwing Hail Aarons. And now he gives us the game of the year in pro football, at least so far, against the 13-3 Cowboys. Dallas lost two of those games to the Giants. The same Giants the Packers have beaten twice this season. On Sunday, in the second half, Rodgers and the Packers did everything to a pretty snappy Giants defense except make them swab the deck on the Bieb's boat.
Rodgers did nothing, really, in the first quarter and still ended up with 25-for-40 and 362 yards and the four scores and a quarterback rating just a tick north of 125. So much was made of the fact that Eli and the Giants had twice come into Lambeau during their Super Bowl runs and beaten the Packers. First it was against Brett Favre when it was 20-below and the Giants ended up winning in overtime in the NFC Championship game. Then it was against the 15-1 Packers, when Eli was the one who threw the halftime pass to Nicks.
And you know how much that mattered on Sunday at Lambeau? Not even a little bit, not after the first quarter. Not even after Nelson took a shot to the ribs and left. The Packers rolled the Giants and now their roll is at seven games. And they go rolling into Jerry's place. During the Packers' winning streak, Rodgers has thrown for 19 touchdowns, no picks, and also has a rushing touchdown. Again: You cannot play the position better than he has played it for the past two months.
The Giants' game plan was to keep Rodgers in the pocket, and it seemed to be confusing him early. But only early, because you never confuse him for long. He doesn't need to have all of his weapons. Just some of them. Lost Jordy. Got Randall back. You saw what they did to a Giants defense that had people comparing it to Super Bowl defenses.
So now we get the Packers against the Cowboys, in the feature game next Sunday afternoon. Team of the season against team of the moment. Dream matchup. Absolute, American Gothic-like nightmare for America's Team.