Packers Escape With Dramatic Victory

Aaron Rodgers hit Andrew Quarless with the game-winning touchdown pass with 3 seconds to go to shock Miami. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

In Sunday’s three-act drama at Miami, Aaron Rodgers stole the show, with a big helping hand from his supporting cast.

Rodgers’ touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless capped a frantic comeback as the Green Bay Packers shocked the Miami Dolphins 27-24 on Sunday.

Trailing 24-20, the Packers took possession at their 40-yard line with 2:04 remaining and no timeouts. On the first play, James Starks ran for 12 yards to Miami’s 48, with the clock stopping for the two-minute warning with 1:57 to play.

On third-and-9, a scrambling Rodgers was hit from behind by Olivier Vernon and fumbled, but hustling guard T.J. Lang saved the day by beating two Dolphins defenders to the ball. That set up a do-or-die fourth-and-10, with Rodgers hitting Jordy Nelson for 18 yards and out of bounds at the 30 with 1 minute to go. Rodgers unloaded the ball just before being hit by Vernon, and Nelson got open when veteran cornerback Brent Grimes stumbled in coverage.

On third-and-10, Rodgers dumped it to Starks, who rumbled for 11 to the 19. A short pass to Randall Cobb, who was tackled in bounds at the 15, set up the third key moment of the final drive. Rodgers hustled to the line of scrimmage and acted as if he were going to spike the ball to stop the clock. Instead, he fired it to Davante Adams who used a stiff-arm of veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan to get out of bounds at the 4-yard line with 6 seconds remaining.

After the Dolphins called timeout to catch their breath, Rodgers went to Quarless, who was matched one-on-one to the right against linebacker Phillip Wheeler. Rodgers’ back-shoulder pass resulted in an easy touchdown with 3 seconds to go.

All that was left was to survive a series of laterals, which they did, with Julius Peppers pouncing on a loose ball after time had expired.

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The Packers improved to 4-2 by winning their third consecutive game.

If the frantic finish was the third act of this drama, Green Bay’s opening act probably should have been a show-stopper.

The Packers dominated the opening half but settled for only a 10-3 lead. The defense was superb. After Green Bay stormed down the field for the opening touchdown, capped by Rodgers’ touchdown to Nelson, Miami’s Jarvis Landry returned the ensuing kickoff to the Packers’ 49. Green Bay, however, forced a field goal.

Miami’s next possession started at Green Bay’s 16 after a blocked punt but the defense kept the Dolphins off the scoreboard with a goal-line stand, capped by Morgan Burnett stuffing Knowshon Moreno on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Miami’s third and fifth possessions ended in interceptions by Casey Hayward and Sam Shields. But the Packers managed only 85 yards in the first half after the opening touchdown, with the field goal coming after Hayward’s interception set up the offense at Miami’s 36.

The second act belonged to the Dolphins. In the first half, Miami managed only five first downs and 87 yards. In the second half, Miami’s first three possessions resulted in touchdown drives of 80, 80 and 79 yards. The Dolphins took advantage of injuries to Packers starting cornerbacks Shields and Tramon Williams, who exited with knee and ankle injuries, respectively, early in Miami’s second third-quarter possession.

The defense, however, got the stop it needed. After Green Bay pulled within 24-20 with 4:09 to play, the Dolphins got one first down on a hands-to-the-face penalty by Brad Jones, which negated his sack, but the defense swarmed two running plays and blitzed Tannehill into an incompletion to give Rodgers his final shot.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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