Watching Aaron Rodgers throw passes is one of football’s purest joys, and frankly, it was nice to have a little joy last night after a week of pent-up nerves and deferred release. Against an absolutely decimated 49ers roster, Rodgers’ dynamic play piloted his team to a 34-17 win and a 6-2 overall record, as he threw for over 300 yards and 4 TDs with ease.
Davante Adams was the main beneficiary of Rodgers’ passes, catching 10 balls for 173 yards and a TD. That score came early, as on the opening drive Rodgers just casually tossed a ball 40-some yards downfield towards Adams in the front corner of the end zone. Despite close coverage from Emmanuel Moseley, Adams turned around at just the right time and contorted his body in just the right way to make it look easy.
Speaking of easy, Rodgers had more than a few plays that looked like backyard football against some neighborhood kids, the most memorable being a 52-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling towards the end of the first half. It’s a Hail Mary distance, especially with Rodgers standing 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, but Rodgers casually sailed a pass over everybody’s helmet but Valdes-Scantling’s. There’s nobody around, and nobody to do anything but accept the score. Rodgers just put a 60-yard ball where no one but his receiver could hope to get it.
Rodgers would have had another recess-style score in the early third if Adams hadn’t slipped out of bounds while sprinting towards the end zone, but that big play set up yet another TD to make the game 28-3 with a lot of time left. At that point, everyone kind of took their foot off the gas pedal, as the Packers spent the rest of the night hitting a couple of field goals and allowing a couple of garbage time touchdowns to make the final score seem much more respectable than it really was.
There was a lot that felt kind of wrong about this game. There were no fans to watch it live, because we’re still seeing case counts and hospitalizations rise in this pandemic that nobody currently in power is showing a willingness to try and combat. There were barely any recognizable Niners, because football is a violent game saturated by injuries and because Kendrick Bourne tested positive for COVID, forcing him and his close contacts to sit out. And even the Packers weren’t at full strength, most notably losing two running backs due to a positive test and subsequent precautions.
But the game was still played. I’d stop short of saying it was good, even for a Thursday nighter. But it at least carried the same kind of spark you get when you’re watching a future pro on a high school team dominate everyone else. Regardless of the circumstances—whether it’s the out-and-out joy of a fireworks display or just as a distraction from anxiety—watching Aaron Rodgers play football extremely well makes me happy. I don’t know if the world could ever get bad enough that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy his work.