CINCINNATI – Aaron Rodgers was happier with what he did with his feet than what he did with his arm Thursday night, but the Green Bay Packers quarterback knows it’s important to flip that script when the games start to count.
Rodgers completed 12 of 22 passes for 154 yards with an interception (57.8 rating) while running six times for 52 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers’ 27-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The No. 1 offense with Rodgers at the controls has now scored three touchdowns and one field goal in 12 possessions. The other eight drives have ended in two fumbles, two punts, two interceptions and one two failed fourth-down plays. The unit has managed 375 yards offense and 22 first downs, with 245 yards and 15 first downs coming on Thursday night.
Rodgers’ biggest mistake was on what might have been a touchdown pass to wide receiver James Jones with 13 minutes 48 seconds left in the first half. Facing second-and-7 from the Bengals’ 39-yard line, Rodgers and Jones looked like they were on different pages when Rodgers threw behind Jones and right to Bengals cornerback Terence Newman for the easy INT. In reality, there was no miscommunication.
“I just threw a real bad ball,” Rodgers said with a soft chuckle. When reporters chuckled with him, Rodgers jokingly snapped, “It’s not funny. … Nah, it was just a bad throw. We kind of quick-snapped ‘em and if I throw the ball I should have thrown, James is probably still running. Just a bad throw and Terence had a preseason Christmas present there.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers took advantage of the Bengals frequently rushing four and playing man-to-man coverage, which left wide swaths of field for him when he tucked the ball and ran on six occasions, including touchdowns on 12-yard footrace to the pylon with cornerback Nate Clements and 5-yard TD later.
“I got tired,” Rodgers said. “Sometimes, the (defense) is going to dictate that. If teams are going to play a lot of man coverage, I’m going to have to make some plays with my feet.”
That said, Rodgers would prefer to use his feet to set up throws with his arm.
“I like to be a pass-first kind of guy, but when they’re playing man coverage, there’s not a lot of guys with eyes to football. That gives you more of an opportunity to make those extended plays into runs,” Rodgers said. “The first one, I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to get to the corner there on Clements. That was fun; got a little excited about it.
"The other runs — one was a play-action keep fake where everybody was covered and I got the most and got out of the way of Taylor Mays. The other was just a reaction play. They were dropping seven guys in coverage and nobody was open. Just trying to keep the play alive, and when you do that and nobody’s got vision to the ball, you have a good opportunity to run it.”
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