Aaron Rodgers has a career 100+ passer rating, and it is indeed rare for him to have an “awful” game where it seems he can do nothing right and can’t blame it on anyone else. Until today, Rodgers’ worst game statistically—in a 9-0 victory—was on October 31, 2010 against the New York Jets, in which he completed 15 of 34 passes for 170 yards. In the snowy weather of Buffalo today, Rodgers “eclipsed” that performance in appalling fashion and wasted a solid defensive effort by the Packers (at least compared to last week’s debacle against Atlanta). Rodgers completed just 17 of 42 passes for 185 yards and two interceptions for a 34.3 passer rating in a 21-13 loss.
With Green Bay’s Potemkin village exposed, the Detroit Lions—despite being dominated by Minnesota statistically—took advantage of Teddy Bridgewater miscues and overcame a 14-0 deficit to win another improbable late game comeback 16-14. With the teams tied for first place, the NFC North will now be decided in the season finale, when these two teams meet in Green Bay.
Elsewhere, I admit that I was hoping that San Francisco would defeat Seattle, but one must face reality: Colin Kaepernick was not an improvement over Alex Smith. They had different “styles,” and Kaepernick’s is not necessarily “better.” The 49ers now fall to 7-7 and the Jim Harbaugh era seems all but over, but that is still in the speculation stage. Frankly, I think this season’s fate for the 49ers will be Seattle’s next season, but for now despite another pedestrian effort by Russell Wilson, the dominate defense should propel the Seahawks well forward into the playoff future.
Meanwhile, Johnny Manziel’s first start for Cleveland was a disaster—and even worse than anticipated in a 30-0 loss to the Bengals. But Cincinnati’s 244 yards rushing masked another brutal performance by Andy Dalton. Jake Locker started for Tennessee, but was predictably injured in the second quarter against the New York Jets. This was obviously a “winnable” game even for Geno Smith, but also predictably it took “official” intervention to do so. With the Titans leading 11-10 late in the game, the officials again intervened on Geno’s behalf in a big way, calling an absurd 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on Tennessee after a Smith incompletion on third-and-15, which allowed a 37-yard run by Chris Johnson (who up to that point had only 18 yards on nine carries) to get the Jets in position for the game-winning score.
Moving on, Andrew Luck had a meager game, but his “heroics” were just enough to propel the Colts to a 17-10 win over “surprising” Houston, which actually had a winning record going in. Indianapolis has clinched their division; Luck—along with Russell Wilson—has won double-digit games in each of his first three seasons. Colt McCoy started for Washington, but was injured after leading the Redskins on first drive field goal. Enter Robert Griffin III. Technically, he had a “pretty good” game, but it was aided by one of those freak plays, this time a 61-yard pass completion that turned out to be most of the Redskins’ offensive output in the second half of a 24-13 loss to the Giants. On the Redskins last four drives in the second half, they managed just seven net yards of offense. As they say—be careful what you wish for.