Brady vs. Rodgers brings football back into the spotlight

Everything else has been cleared aside.

The baseball season, glorious for Red Sox fans, is over. Locally, all the high school sports tournaments are over, except for one – football.

Yes, and even on the local pro level, football is back to taking center stage, as it did with Sunday night’s well-hyped matchup at Gillette Stadium between the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers that the Patriots pulled out 31-17.

Oh, excuse me, between Tom Brady and his Packer counterpart Aaron Rodgers.

“They’re two great quarterbacks,” Patriots back James White said.

It was the talk of the NFL all week, with NBC licking its chops, Michael Jordan doing a pre-game promo read, etc. The league and the networks had a collective heart attack when Rodgers went down with the knee injury in the Sunday Night opener and then jumped for joy when he came back in the second half to rally the Pack past Ted Phillips’ Chicago Bears.

Everyone was hoping for a classic matchup. We got an OK one. Brady, who Sunday became the NFL’s all time passing yardage leader, threw for 294 yards and a TD. Rodgers threw for 259 yards and a score. Actually, Patriots return man turned running back Cordarelle Patterson stole the show with 61 yards rushing and a TD.

We were robbed of this at Gillette back in 2010 when Rodgers was hurt and backup Matt Flynn was the starter and nearly pulled out a win that the Patriots ultimately snatched away.

Then they met in Lambeau Field in 2014 and Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for a slant over the middle that went for a score, beating Darrelle Revis.

But here we were on Sunday night, finally. Through the first half Brady, with tight end Rob Gronkowski unavailable, completed 10 of 16 for 121 yards, but no TDs. Rodgers, meanwhile, was 16 of 27 for 123 yards, using his mobility on a 2-yard TD pass to Davante Adams that briefly tied the game 10-10 in the second quarter. The Patriots led 17-10 at the half and Rodgers eventually tied things up in the third quarter with a 2-yard TD pass to Davante Adams.

Each quarterback took turns talking about the other during the week.

“We know each other, we’re friends,” Brady said on Friday. “He’s a great player and I think he’s going to play his best. He always does. He plays pretty great every week.”

Rodgers says he was humbled by the Jordan promo.

“For sure,” he said. “I’ve gotten to know Mike a little bit over the years playing golf in Tahoe, and obviously I’ve known Tom for a long time. Michael’s widely considered the greatest and so is Tom.”

Rodgers says he watches Brady on national prime time broadcasts every chance he gets. And, of course, last night he got a first hand look in person.

Brady, he said, “has been at the top of his game for a long, long time. … I’ve always been a big fan of his. Just the stuff he does on the field is phenomenal.”

The cameras were obviously going to be focused in at the end of Sunday night’s game on the two QB’s embracing. Too bad we don’t get Brady against Drew Brees this season, too.

Well, maybe in February?

Of course, just like with two great pitchers going at it, it wasn’t really Brady vs. Rodgers. It the QBs against each other’s defense.

“That’s where my attention’s focused,” Brady said, “and I’ll let our defense really focus on how to stop their offense.”

And Brady felt the defense came through in a big way on Sunday night, holding the Packers to two TDs and Rodgers to 259 yards.

“The defense played spectacular,” Brady said.

And we can all now focus mainly on football for the next three months.

Tom King can be reached at 594-1251,tking@nashuatelegraph.com, or@Telegraph_TomK.