Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers never seems to get rattled, even when the pressure to perform is intense.
Take last Sunday’s contest against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. All Rodgers did was direct the Packers into field goal position that resulted in Mason Crosby’s 31-yard game-winning attempt as time elapsed.
The kick gave the Packers an exciting 38-35 victory and increased their winning streak to a team-record 18 games.
Green Bay has been home to two of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks – Bart Starr and Brett Favre. Starr led the Packers to NFL titles in 1961, 1962, 1965, and Super Bowl crowns in 1966 and 1967, while Favre added one Super Bowl trophy.
Rodgers just turned 28 years old, and his work is still unfinished, but he’s already etched his name among the best-ever to wear a Packers’ uniform.
With the affair tied and 58 seconds left, Rodgers completed four passes during the 68-yard, five-play march, including a 24-yarder to tight end Jermichael Finley (87 yards and six catches), a 27-yard dart to wide receiver Jordy Nelson (94 yards with four catches), and an 18-yard toss to wide receiver Greg Jennings (94 yards and seven receptions).
The league’s Most Valuable Player won’t be announced for some time. The candidates are New England’s Tom Brady and New Orleans’ Drew Brees, but if Rodgers doesn’t claim the prize, there needs to be a recount.
With his four-touchdown effort, Rodgers now has 37, and it’s the fourth time this season he’s reached that number.
Rodgers finished with 369 passing yards on 28 of 46 attempts, and it’s the eighth instance this campaign he’s surpassed the 300-yard mark.
Rodgers had two scoring tosses in each half, and his 20-yarder to Jennings with 9:50 left in the third quarter made it 28-17, while his seven-yard pass to wide receiver Donald Driver (34 yards with four catches) and 3:34 remaining in the fourth quarter gave Green Bay a 35-27 lead.
The Packers (449 total net yards) moved in front 21-17 with 1:10 left in the second quarter when Rodgers (3,844 passing yards) directed Green Bay 80 yards on 11 plays before spotting Driver with a 13-yard pass.
New York (6-6) made it 7-0 after quarterback Eli Manning nailed wide receiver Travis Beckum with a 67-yard pass on the game’s third play from scrimmage.
The defending Super Bowl champion Packers (12-0) knotted it at 7-7 when Rodgers drilled Finley with a 12-yard throw as 5:06 remained in the first quarter, but Lawrence Tynes’ 38-yard field goal gave New York (447 total yards) a 10-7 lead with two minutes left.
One-time USC linebacker Clay Matthews intercepted Manning and returned the ball 38 yards for a score as the Packers secured a 14-10 edge early in the second quarter.
For only the fifth time, Rodgers suffered a pick as Chase Blackburn intercepted the former UC Berkeley standout, which set up a one-yard blast from Brandon Jacobs (59 yards and eight carries) with 6:44 left in the second quarter that pushed New York ahead 17-14.
When Manning (23 of 40 for 347 yards) marched the Giants 69 yards on nine plays and hit wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (seven receptions for 88 yards) with a four-yard pass and 58 seconds left, New York trailed 35-33. D.J. Ware’s two-point conversion dash made it 35-35, but there was more than enough time for Rodgers to spin another tale.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.