Green Bay Packers tight end Richard Rodgers caught just one pass for 8 yards on Sunday. It was a typically quiet day in a disappointing third season for Rodgers.
But that lone catch vs. the Seahawks was a memorable one, with Rodgers catching a pass over the middle and getting drilled – illegally – by Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright. That put the ball at the 3-yard line, and Aaron Rodgers immediately connected with Jordy Nelson for a touchdown and a 28-3 lead that essentially clinched Green Bay’s third consecutive win.
“It’s my job,” Richard Rodgers said on Monday. “I knew I was going to get hit so I was prepared for it. If he would have got there a little bit earlier, it probably would have been tougher, but I already had the ball in my hands and had tucked it. I knew I was going to get hit.”
On the play, a third-and-4 from Seattle’s 14, Rodgers lined up in the right slot while Wright was lined up across from running back Ty Montgomery, who was in the left slot. Rodgers ran an in-breaking route against Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wright came off Montgomery and launched himself into Rodgers, with his right shoulder pad hitting Rodgers squarely in the face. At least three penalty flags were thrown, and Wright will be facing a hefty fine from the league.
Rodgers downplayed the degree of difficulty on the catch after the game and again on Monday. It’s one thing to talk about focusing on the ball even while aware of the big shot that’s to come. It’s quite another to actually have that focus and make the play.
“It’s just practice,” he said. “We’ve played the game for so many years that you know how to catch the ball and take contact, whether that be with the ground or with someone else.”
Rodgers had a lot more to say about the Packers’ winning ways. Green Bay played its best all-around game of the season, and all three phases of the team appear to be on the upswing headed into the final three games of the regular season.
“It’s good to win games,” he said. “Before, we were just a little bit off and not clicking in all three phases. One week, it would be the defense played well but the offense and special teams didn’t play well. The next week, the offense would play well and the defense and special teams didn’t play well. Then the special teams would play well but the offense and defense didn’t play well. It’s just been one of those years where we’re just waiting for everything to click and come together. The last three weeks, we’ve done a good job with the offense, defense and special teams making plays, creating turnovers and executing.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.