Tramon Williams didn’t even see Aaron Rodgers enter practice. He was taking part in a team drill, facing the offense, when a ball zipped through the air for a touchdown.
That spiral, that speed, that throw could only be from one person.
“He looked good,” the cornerback said. “He made some great throws as always and hopefully he can get out there and be even better on Sunday.”
Due to the calf injury, Rodgers did not take part in the individual drills – the only portion the media was present for – but he was able to participate in team drills laters on Thursday. It was the first time Rodgers was back on the field in any capacity since the clinching the NFC North more than a week ago. He only took 50-60% for the repetitions and just his presence inspired his teammates.
“He’s our leader – not only of the offense but of our whole team,” guard T.J. Lang admitted Thursday. “Any time you can get him back you can definitely tell it’s a boost to the rest of the team knowing that he’s going through some things but he’s fighting through some pain to be out there with his teammates.”
The first team All-Pro quarterback has been adamant that the on-field practice time isn’t important to sustaining the offenses’ rhythm. He’s also resolute in the fact that he will play against Dallas – the calf injury won’t stop him from the postseason push.
“He’s our MVP on the team and he’s going to get us to where we want to go so we obviously need him this week,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “That’s what you like to see in your quarterback, a warrior.”
Rodgers’ impact will be felt on Sunday, but it may be just as vital to his teammates that he was there will them on a Thursday.
As the clock was winding down, the Nuggets didn’t know if they were even going to get a shot off then a fan – yes, a fan sitting courtside – told Randy Foye go get the ball.
The Nuggets guard did the rest.
Foye hit the off-balanced buzzer-beating three-pointer from the top of the key to beat the Clippers in dramatic fashion.
“It’s surreal. Pandemonium. Chills went through my body,” he said of the self-proclaimed biggest shot of his career in the NBA. Foye was tackled by his teammates in celebration.
If Champ Bailey had only known the outcome of his long awaited first ever Super Bowl – enduring 15 years in professional football before reaching the summit only to be crushed – he may have chosen a different career path.
“I was not surprised that we got here. I’m surprised about the way we played,” the veteran cornerback said in what was expected to be a joyous locker room inside MetLife Stadium. “We definitely didn’t play our best football tonight. We definitely played a good football team that was ready to go and we just didn’t match their intensity.”
The Broncos defense was resolute despite some unfortunate circumstances – most but not all that were out of their control. Bailey accounted for four tackles and was given the difficult task of keeping up with fast slot receiver Percy Harvin most of the night.
Denver stymied Tom Brady and the third best scoring offense in the league in the AFC Championship game to earn the chance to play in the final game but that unit was unable produce a similar effect Sunday.
“You can call it what you want. The several snaps after that we didn’t play good football either,” he said of the position they were in following the first snap safety by the Broncos. Following the ensuing punt, it took just five plays for the Seahawks offense to get inside the red-zone.
“They’re a good football team. You cannot make mistakes against a team like that,” Bailey continued.
Retirement could seem like the next logical recourse after a year hampered by a nagging foot injury and a drubbing in the Super Bowl. But that may instead make the desire to return even stronger – he didn’t play this long to finally get there and then go out like that.
It’s one thing to get to the Super Bowl and another to actually win it – the Broncos learned that the hard way. Seattle thumped Denver 43-8 in one of the most lopsided games ever.
Getting back the following year after coming up one victory short of the Lombardi Trophy is another scenario entirely.
Since the first Super Bowl in 1967, only SEVEN teams have lost in the Super Bowl and then made it back to the big game the next season. (There are more franchises, 8, that have managed to win back-to-back championships.) The most recent of those teams being the Buffalo Bills two long decades ago.
Even more scarce is a team with the ability to recover from a defeat in the Super Bowl and then win it the next year. The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the last team to accomplish such a feat – in fact they are just one of two teams to do so.
Disappointing? Sure. But don’t you dare call what occurred on Sunday night embarrassing.
“It’s not embarrassed at all. I would never use that word,” the Broncos quarterback said Sunday night. Manning finished 34-of-49 for 280 yards, a single touchdown and two critical interceptions. While Denver wasn’t on point for the entirety of the game, you cannot discredit what the Seahawks defense did. They made the most prolific offense in NFL history look pedestrian.
“There’s a lot of professional football players in that room, that locker room, who put a lot of hard work and effort into being here and into playing in that game. The word embarrassing is an insulting word, to tell you the truth,” he continued.
Manning abstained from taking anything away from Seattle in their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history – and any insinuation otherwise wouldn’t be right. They earned it.