MIAMI—The deck was stacked. Character win? It’s more than that.
Playing on a day when the heat index was pushing 100, and against an opponent that pretty much knew the Packers’ audible system, the Packers played to a new identity, one they had to create for the circumstance, and they won with the flair befitting a champion.
“He knew a lot of them,” Aaron Rodgers said of Miami Head Coach Joe Philbin’s recall of the Packers’ audibles, from Philbin’s days as the man who helped teach that audible system. “They made some checks off of our checks.”
Bingo! That’s when you know you’ve been hacked.
One of the worst time-of-possession teams in the league dominated time of possession. The worst run defense in the league held Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno to 63 combined yards.
That’s a new identity for the Packers, but one part of the Packers’ identity remained the same: Aaron Rodgers tilts the field.
Rodgers was forced to think a little harder, throwing dummy numbers at the Dolphins defense and trying in all ways to overcome disadvantages that threatened to leave Rodgers 0-4 in games played in Florida. He’s 1-3 now following today’s 27-24 thriller.
By the way, isn’t Rodgers supposed to lack fourth-quarter-comeback ability? Yeah, sure.
How many quarterbacks could do what he did at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday? Manning, Brady, Brees? Unitas, Marino, Montana?
We’re watching one of the best passers of the football in the history of the game. Hang in there. This guy might just be getting started.
He did things in the Packers’ game-winning drive only a few quarterbacks could do. He repeatedly extended plays, on a day that would’ve left most quarterbacks gassed. He repeatedly changed plays at the line of scrimmage. He always knew where to go with the ball.
Most of all, Rodgers saw things most quarterbacks wouldn’t have seen. He saw everything, and his recall in his postgame press conference was perfect.
“We had a call to the left and Jordy (Nelson) running a route he runs pretty well. I just kind of hung in there. I just tried to put it in a good spot,” Rodgers said of a pass to Nelson on fourth-and-10 that gained 18 yards. Rodgers was under a heavy rush. The game was on the line. He rose to the occasion, of course.
Every time the media asked him to describe a key play in the game, Rodgers did so with perfect recall. He sees the action as though it’s in slow motion.
“We were able to make enough plays to win,” Rodgers said.
He made the plays. Rodgers won this game. Without him, the Packers don’t win. That’s the truth. We all know it.
Philbin made a mistake. He did what a smart coach is supposed to do. He put the game in the hands of his defense with 2:15 to play by electing to run the ball, punt and play defense on what he hoped would be a long field. It’s the smart thing to do, unless Rodgers is the other quarterback. You just can’t play that way when Rodgers is the other quarterback.
Don’t give it back. If you do, you’ll lose.
“You want the opportunity to make a play at the end. Tom Clements always talks about time and downs. We had time and downs,” Rodgers said.
With three seconds to spare, too.
ADDITIONAL PACKERS-DOLPHINS COVERAGE - OCT. 12