“People will take notice”
By Pete Dougherty, Green Bay Press-Gazette
~This was an old-fashioned mismatch.
The Denver Broncos, rebuilding and with a new coaching staff, had nowhere near the talent or cohesion to keep up with the high-riding Green Bay Packers, who are coming off a Super Bowl title and have one of the early contenders for this year’s most valuable player award in quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers and his well-stocked offense by now surely have the NFL’s attention after a nearly unstoppable performance that included 507 yards in offense in a 49-23 blowout of the Broncos on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
“I’m sure people will take notice,” nose tackle B.J. Raji said. “It’s hard to overlook an undefeated returning Super Bowl champion.”
Yes, the Packers are 4-0 at the one-quarter mark of the NFL season, one of only two unbeaten teams left in the league. The other is their fast-rising NFC North Division rival Detroit Lions, who on the road came back from a 24-point deficit to defeat the Dallas Cowboys, 34-30. The Packers and Lions don’t meet for the first of their two annual games until Thanksgiving Day.
“Fine with what (the Lions) are doing,” Packers cornerback Charles Woodson said, “but it’s about what we’re doing over here. We’ll worry about our record, and when that time comes (to play them), it comes. But we’re looking to go 5-0 next week.”
The Packers’ start suggests this could be one of the best offenses in team history.. Maybe the best. It’s early, but the Packers’ 148 points are the most they’ve scored in the first four weeks in their 91 seasons in the NFL.
Rodgers is the driving force behind those numbers. The 27-year-old had one of the best games in his four years as an NFL starter, a day in which he threw for more than 400 yards, threw four touchdown passes and scrambled for two more scores. No player in NFL history has ever done that in a single game.
Rodgers put up a passer rating of 134.5 points. It would have been higher if an accurate throw early in the fourth quarter hadn’t popped off receiver James Jones hands for an interception by Jonathan Wilhite. Even so, it’s the sixth-highest passer rating in Rodgers’ career, playoffs included.
Four weeks into the NFL season, Rodgers has the league’s best passer rating at 124.6 points.
“Last year, we won the Super Bowl in large part because of what A-Rod does as a quarterback,” Woodson said. “He’s going to continue to be mentioned with his contemporaries as one or two or three of the best in the league. He’s deserving of that.”
Denver coach John Fox said: “(Rodgers) is playing as well as any quarterback that I have seen, and this is my 23rd season (in the NFL).”
On this day, the Broncos decided they weren’t going to let tight end Jermichael Finley beat them, and they didn’t. Finley caught three passes for 28 yards, a 9.3-yard average.
“Every time (Finley) was split out, they made sure they had a guy high and a guy low,” Rodgers said. “They were dropping down a defensive end on that side to stop him.”
But taking out Finley came at a considerable cost. Rodgers completed 76.3 percent of his throws (29-for-38) for a career-high 408 yards. His five wide receivers combined for 20 catches for a staggering 330 yards. That included long strikes to Greg Jennings (43 yards in the first quarter), Jordy Nelson (a 50-yard touchdown on a deep post pattern in the first quarter) and rookie Randall Cobb (a 61-yard completion that set up a touchdown in the third quarter that blew open the game at 41-17).
Rodgers’ four touchdowns were to four different players: Jennings, a 17-yarder; Nelson, the 50-yarder; Donald Driver, an 8-yarder; and Jones, a 16-yarder.
After the game, Driver, who’s in his 13th season with the Packers, said he thinks Rodgers has a chance to go down as one of the all-time greats in league history and called this the most talented offense he’s been a part of.
“(Former quarterback Brett Favre) had a lot of weapons,” Driver said, “but he never had this many weapons, I can promise you that.”
The Packers’ defense wasn’t good statistically — it gave up 384 total yards, including 273 yards passing to quarterback Kyle Orton. But 78 of those yards came in later in the fourth quarter, after the game’s outcome was long settled.
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