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Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson return for slog of a game that featured a shoe toss and a star getting ejected

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Who would think a game matching up two certain future Hall of Fame quarterbacks could be so ... boring?

Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson returned to the field after absences for dramatically different reasons, and the result was a numbing slog that stood at 3-0 until well into the fourth quarter. Green Bay eventually pulled away, using two long, grinding drives ending in A.J. Dillon touchdowns to win 17-0. But for multiple reasons, nobody involved in this game will want to remember it for long. 

The game marked Wilson's return to action following surgery on the middle finger of his throwing hand. NFL commentators fawned over Wilson's rehab work ethic with over-the-top praise, but returning to the field and being productive on it are two very different things. 

Wilson looked rustier than a Depression-era tractor left out in the elements, if slightly more mobile. Going into the final, garbage-time drive, he'd thrown for only 110 yards in the entire game, with two brutal end-zone interceptions. This version of Russ couldn't cook a Pop-Tart, much less a winning meal. 

Rodgers, on the other hand, returned from a one-game COVID-19-induced layoff that included a whole slew of revelations about his perspectives on vaccination. The CBS announcing teams handled Rodgers' status the way NFL announcing teams always tend to handle tricky off-field subjects — which is to say, superficially and as quickly as possible. 

During the broadcast, Tony Romo praised Rodgers for "taking responsibility" for admitting that he'd been deceptive about his vaccination status, sidestepping the fact that Rodgers had been deceptive in the first place. Rodgers, meanwhile, got the message out through CBS that the Packers as a team had known of his status from "Day 1," according to Tracy Wolfson, and that he believed there was no need for him to explain or justify anything to the team. 

As for the game itself, Rodgers posted some un-Rodgers-esque numbers — 23 of 37 completions for 292 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception. Rodgers spent a lot of time doing his own research into Seattle's underrated defense, to little effect; Green Bay could move the ball between the 20s, but not much further until deep into the game. Had Wilson been his normal self, Green Bay would have been in trouble; as it was, all the Packers had to do was survive until the game finally broke their way. 

The most exciting aspects of this game had very little to do with actual gameplay. First off, Pete Carroll attempted to challenge a call on the field, and threw whatever he could find in his pocket:

(CBS Sports)
(CBS Sports)

Is that a cell phone? A hand warmer? A garage door opener? Who knows, but Carroll used it as a makeshift red flag until he located the real deal ... which was in his right pocket. 

Later, in the fourth quarter, Seattle's Carlos Dunlap went and slung a Packer's shoe halfway to Milwaukee:

For that tribute to his Florida roots, Dunlap got popped for a 15-yard penalty, which took Green Bay from Seattle's 42 to its 27. Seven plays later, Dillon thundered his way into the end zone to put the Packers up 10-0. 

Finally, there was the scuffle late in the game, as frustration mounted among the Seahawks, where DK Metcalf boiled over and tried to fight pretty much everyone:

Metcalf attempted to re-enter the game after being ejected, but the refs caught on quickly and sent him to the sideline for good. 

The loss marked Seattle's fifth straight defeat at the hands of the Packers in Green Bay. It was also Seattle's first shutout since 2011, and Wilson's first ever shutout. The Packers, on the other hand, notched their 451st home win, edging the Bears for the most in NFL history. 

The only remaining question for Green Bay now is the extent of injuries suffered by two key players. Running back Aaron Jones left in the third quarter with a knee injury, and the tears in his eyes after time in the medical tent told a grim story. Linebacker Rashan Gary, one of the Packers' pass-rush raptors, left the game after getting his right arm twisted at a gruesome angle in the fourth quarter. 

Green Bay now sits atop the NFC playoff race, carrying a tremendous home-field advantage if the route to the Super Bowl has to come through Wisconsin. The Packers travel to Minnesota next week for a divisional matchup before a heavyweight fight at home against the Rams.

Seattle's best plan, meanwhile, may be to spend the rest of the season knocking the rust off Wilson. The sooner the Seahawks forget about this mess, the better. 

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 14: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after throwing an incomplete pass on third down during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field on November 14, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 14: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after throwing an incomplete pass on third down during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field on November 14, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.

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