Tough Duty: Rodgers Relieves Favre Against Stingy Patriots Defense

Despite what some skeptics might have you believe, being a backup quarterback in the NFL isn’t easy. Look no further than the Packers 35-0 loss on Sunday to the New England Patriots for proof. As if rarely receiving the opportunity to play isn’t hard enough, making matters even more difficult for a second-string signal caller are the times when you do get thrown into the fire and it just so happens to be against a defense as stingy as the Patriots. Welcome to Aaron Rodgers’ world.

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Despite what some skeptics might have you believe, being a backup quarterback in the NFL isn't easy. Look no further than the Packers' 35-0 loss on Sunday to the New England Patriots for proof.

As if rarely receiving the opportunity to play isn't hard enough, making matters even more difficult for a second-string signal caller are the times when you do get thrown into the fire and it just so happens to be against a defense as stingy as the Patriots.

Welcome to Aaron Rodgers' world.

Rodgers, the Packers' second-year man out of California, was forced into action when Brett Favre left the game with an injured elbow late in the second quarter. Already facing a 21-0 deficit, the team had little choice other than to let Rodgers guide the offense to the best of his ability. When he misfired on his first two passes, the Packers were forced to punt and the Patriots knelt on the ball to the finish the half.

With Favre not able to go in the second half, it was Rodgers' job to mount a comeback against the Patriots, which obviously is never an easy task. However, the team never lost faith in the 6-foot-2, 223-pound general.

"We knew Aaron Rodgers could step in and take care of business," wide receiver Donald Driver said. "And he did. He played well. We just couldn't make things happen. They (New England) did what they had to do on the defensive side. We take our hats off to them, they played well."

Despite Rodgers' inexperience, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said that it didn't prevent him from calling the plays he normally would with Favre at the helm.

"We stuck right to the game plan with Aaron and tried to give him an opportunity to bring us back," McCarthy said. "We didn't change anything in particular in the third or fourth quarter."

William Henderson, who has played with Favre longer than anyone on the roster, admitted that things may have been a little different without No. 4 in the game, but that didn't mean there should have been any kind of setback from the team's perspective.

Clearly though, the Packers faced an uphill battle all day.

"Mentally, it shouldn't affect us at all," Henderson said. "We always practice with the intensity and the idea that if somebody, even Brett, goes down we've got to fill in and still play well.

{sportsad300}"When Brett goes down, we can't use that as an excuse for not playing well. And we won't be able to use that today because before he went down, we weren't playing well."

As a team, the Packers finished with only 77 passing yards, including 28 lost yards on four sacks. Favre was 5 of 15 for 73 yards, while Rodgers connected on 4 of 12 attempts for 32 yards. Those numbers alone suggest there is work to do regardless of who is under center next Monday night at Seattle.

"We have to learn from this one," Driver said. "We have to look at film tomorrow and make our corrections."

According to Henderson, lining up and running the plays weren't the problem, but execution was a whole other matter.

"We held the cadence, we listened to the quarterback's calls," Henderson said. "There weren't misalignments in the second half when Brett wasn't out there. Those are some things to be positive about.

"But the other parts are sustaining the blocks, creating holes, and protecting the quarterback. Those things we didn't do well today."

As of Sunday night, the Packers did not know the severity of Favre's injury, and Rodgers also was seen limping after the game. Despite these uncertainties, you know that the starter, and the backup, will be prepared come Monday night, especially since Sunday proved that you literally have to be ready in a snap to be an NFL quarterback.

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