By: Justin St. Peter
My little brother is an idiot (at times).
I am allowed to say that because he is my younger brother, and I typically don’t think that, but today he made a very stupid decision.
The Dallas Cowboys had just taken a 31-28 lead with a near 10 minute drive, late in the fourth quarter, against the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers had a minute and a half, with one timeout, to either orchestrate a drive to get the team in field goal range for the possibility of overtime or go 75 yards for a game-winning touchdown.
My dad, dad’s girlfriend, and I were discussing the possible outcomes of the drive, when my brother looked over to me and said, “I will give you $10 if the Packers score a touchdown on this drive.”
Without hesitation, I shook his hand to agree on it. I mean, I had a no-lose situation with no repercussions for me if the Packers didn’t score. As I watched Rodgers march the team down the field, I turned to my brother as he began to fidget nervously in his seat.
Meanwhile Aaron Rodgers pulled his usual Houdini act of escaping two oncoming rushers on a 3rd and 5 with no timeouts left and less than 30 seconds remaining. After outrunning two defensive lineman, he ran 18 yards down the left sideline and even more crucially got out of bounds, giving the Packers a few shots at the end zone.
Rodgers looked for wide receiver Davante Adams in the back corner of the end zone, but the pass was broken up. Reportedly in the huddle (hat tip Rob Demovsky, ESPN), Adams told Rodgers to run the same play again. Rodgers obliged and floated a beautiful ball over the defender to Adams’ back shoulder, connecting for the game-winning 12 yard touchdown with 11 seconds remaining.
After jumping out of my seat, yelling and throwing one of the biggest fist pumps of my life, I turned to my brother and opened my right hand, saying, “Pay up.”
Of course, he wanted out of the deal, realizing how it wasn’t a bright move by him but my dad and his girlfriend vowed to make sure he owns up to his end of the argument. I’m pretty sure that this is the last time he makes a bet with me without thinking it through (totally worth it).
After a lateral-filled final play of the game, the Packers were the victors 35-31 and kings of the NFC North with a 4-1 record.
Looking back on those final 81 seconds, I remained incredibly calm. I had seen Rodgers perform these types of drives over and over throughout his career and knew not to be too worried.
Thinking back now, that line just looks incredibly insane. I was calm with my team down to a close rival on the road with no much time left. The TV screen zoomed in on Aaron Rodgers, and I knew that calmness was justified.
With that little time on the clock and one timeout left, there are a few quarterbacks that could pull that drive out. Its why they make the big bucks. Its how they become household names. And yet so many fail to do it on a consistent basis.
Don’t get me wrong the NFL is a very difficult, violent, dangerous, exciting and entertaining league (recognize the adjective order), but on a day that two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning threw an interception with the game on the line, Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions and multiple other quarterbacks struggled, Rodgers shined.
There are plenty others in history and some quarterbacks today that could do exactly what Rodgers led on this Sunday (see Brady, Tom), but not many exude and inspire the fans to have the same cool confidence as their signal caller.
He did it against the Cincinnati Bengals just two weeks ago, where he led the team back and threw a three yard touchdown pass to star wide receiver Jordy Nelson with 17 seconds left before hitting a deep pass to fellow receiver Geronimo Allison to set up for the game-winning field goal in overtime.
I will admit I was nervous for that game tying drive vs. the Bengals, but it only further prepared me and many other fans for this drive against the Cowboys.
As humans, when people meet expectations, we want to be challenged. If we conquer these challenges, the bar is raised and its time for a more difficult challenge. For Rodgers, I really don’t know what the challenge looks like because he consistently raises that bar.
18 game-winning drives. Check.
King of the free play (catching the defense offsides or with 12 men on the field, allowing the offense to throw it deep with the worst thing being a five yard penalty in the offense’s favor). Check.
Most Valuable Player. Discount double check (see what I did there?), He’s done it twice.
Leading the league in touchdowns. Check (2016).
Highest passer rating in a season. Discount double check (I will see myself out) (2011, 2012).
Master of the Hail Mary. Check times four.
Super Bowl victory. Check.
Super Bowl MVP. Check.
I can keep going and going and going. Go check out his Wikipedia page, and you won’t even be able to fit all of his NFL records on the screen without scrolling.
The man is football savant, and we are running out of words to describe him.
On a day that Dak Prescott, Rodgers’ Cowboys counterpart, threw four touchdown passes and ran for what was thought to be the game-winning touchdown with 1:21 left in the contest, Rodgers was unfazed.
If you scrolled across Twitter of people watching the game, many were in agreement that the Cowboys, who had just unearthed a near 10 minute touchdown drive, had still left too much time for the Packers. There aren’t too many other quarterbacks throughout history that earned that respect.
Aaron Rodgers has and proved why once again.
When he retires, hopefully many years from now, he will be in the NFL history books for even more records and is already being considered one of the best to play the position all time.
Packers fans have been spoiled by Hall of Famer Brett Favre, and now Aaron Rodgers, as many other teams cycle through quarterback through quarterback trying to find their star. The Packers are and have been (knock on wood) set with some of the best to ever do it for over 20 years now.
Death, taxes and Aaron Rodgers finding a way to engineer scoring drives with the game on the line.
Those are life’s guarantees.