Monday Reaction: Aaron Rodgers and Company Defeat Texans, Quiet Critics

Scott Halleran - Getty Images

The Packers made an emphatic statement to the rest of the NFL on Sunday night, defeating one of the consensus "best" teams in the NFL.

Aaron Rodgers threw the ball early and he threw it often on Sunday, and his play did a lot of the talking with six touchdown passes against the Houston Texans. But it might be the post-game interview with NBC sideline reporter that gets the most attention on Monday.

Michelle Tafoya: "What do you think you (the Packers) told the critics tonight?"

Rodgers: "Shhhhhhhhhh."

Rodgers promptly walked off-camera.

Skip Bayless, take some notes. THAT is some high-quality trolling.

This team has been sick and tired of hearing the questions about what has gone wrong with the offense and why they haven't been playing up to their lofty standards. They were understandably unhappy with a 2-3 record and with being perceived as a team that had been "figured out" by other teams around the league. The receivers were able to beat the Texans' secondary regularly, and Rodgers' receivers were making catches that had been falling incomplete all season.

Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Randall Cobb were monsters. Nelson caught nine passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns, Jones had three receptions for 33 yards and two scores, while Cobb had seven catches for 102 yards. Credit is due to the offensive line as well, which kept Rodgers mostly clean by allowing only two sacks (both to J.J. Watt). But the biggest factor on Sunday night was Rodgers.

It all started with his picture-perfect pass to Jordy Nelson to open the scoring. He later scored on a run up the middle that was eventually called back for a holding penalty, but in the end zone he gave the most emphatic spike and belt celebration that I have seen since the Atlanta playoff game two years ago. That was the moment that I realized that there was something very different, very angry, very vindictive about Rodgers last night. There was an edge to his game and to his body language that I haven't seen all season, and he channeled it into a marvelous performance before having some fun after the game in his interview.

Then you move to the defense. After Tom Crabtree's 48-yard touchdown put the Packers ahead 35-17, the defense clamped down, recording interceptions on three straight Texans possessions (one by Sam Shields and two by Casey Hayward) to put the game out of reach. That killer instinct is something that had been missing from the defense and was certainly a welcome sight for Packers fans who have become accustomed to seeing the defense seal the deal late in games.

This is obviously the most complete game the Packers have played all season, and should give fans plenty of optimism to tide them over until Sunday, when the team will get its first opportunity to make its critics keep their mouths shut in St. Louis.

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