Rodgers Plays Through Pain In Impressive Performance

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said all week that he would give quarterback Aaron Rodgers every chance to play against the Falcons, and that decision came right down to the wire Sunday morning. - More Packers-Falcons Game Center

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said all week that he would give quarterback Aaron Rodgers every chance to play against the Falcons, and that decision came right down to the wire Sunday morning.

Rodgers played through the pain of his sprained right shoulder in a gutty performance, finishing the afternoon 25-of-37 for 313 yards and three touchdown passes with one interception.

"Aaron Rodgers stepped up today," McCarthy said. "We talk about the health of our football team; we're going through a phase that every team goes through. That's what we're in right now and it's important for people to step up. He was an injured player that didn't practice all week and he stepped up large today."

Rodgers, who sustained the shoulder sprain last Sunday at Tampa Bay extending the ball for a first down on a run, was limited all week and didn't throw until Friday's practice. He threw again Sunday morning at 8:45 in a workout for McCarthy in the Don Hutson Center to see if he could make the necessary throws to play against the Falcons.

"I think Mike wanted to look in my eyes and see if I wanted to play, and I told him I want the ball," Rodgers said. "I want to be out there, and I just knew I was going to have to deal with the pain.

"To be honest I was a little surprised at the way I was able to throw. That's a testament to the training staff and the number of hours we put in this week in the training room. I definitely thank those guys."

Rodgers said he did not take an injection to help with the pain Sunday, which he said was there the entire game. He added his shoulder felt better early on when the temperature was warmer with the sun out and that he experienced more soreness in the second half when the wind picked up and temperatures dropped.

The game got off to an inauspicious start for Rodgers when he was sacked on the first play by former Packer Grady Jackson, and the Packers went three-and-out their first two possessions.

But Rodgers and the rest of the offense got back on track the next series as Rodgers connected with wide receiver Donald Driver on a play-action pass for a 44-yard touchdown over two defenders on a third-and-one.

"I thought it was a great call," Rodgers said. "I think we probably caught them off guard with the play-action pass. I also wasn't sure if I was going to be able to throw it that far. I gave that one just about all I had and Donald made an incredible catch in the end zone."

Trailing 17-7 at halftime, Rodgers rolled out to his right from the Packers' 46 and missed a wide-open Greg Jennings inside the Atlanta 20 on the opening drive of the second half. It was one of the few throws Sunday where the limits of his injury were evident.

"I don't like making excuses, even if I am hurt," Rodgers said. "They covered it well but I was able to get outside and the line did a nice job. Greg just kind of found himself wide open and I saw him, but unfortunately I ran out of arm on that one."

After cornerback Tramon Williams' interception, Rodgers hooked up with tight end Tory Humphrey over the middle for a 37-yard gain, and two plays later, threw a 25-yard scoring strike to Jennings with Falcons cornerback Domonique Foxworth draped all over him in the end zone.

{sportsad300}"Greg made a great adjustment on the ball," Rodgers said. "I put it where I wanted to as the guy was kind of undercutting with no vision to the ball, but Greg just made a heck of a play in the end zone."

Rodgers' lone interception came at an inopportune time with the Packers trailing 20-17 with just under five minutes remaining. The offense was facing a third-and-19 after an intentional grounding penalty on Rodgers, and the Falcons dropped eight defenders into coverage as Rodgers' pass intended for Martin was picked off by linebacker Michael Boley.

"I was trying to make a play in a situation where I probably should have checked it off to the back," Rodgers said. "Third and over 15 like that, under five minutes, still only down by three, it was definitely a time where I should have checked it down to the back."

Despite the disappointing loss, it wasn't a lost day for Rodgers.

"He was incredible," tackle Mark Tauscher said. "Once we got rolling I think he played a great football game. To do it under the circumstances he did, he earned a lot of respect from a lot of guys. He had it, and this takes it to another level."

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