Tha Sports Junkies 101

Rodgers, Nelson Come Up Big When it Matters Most For Packers

Nelson - NFL Mark Hoffman via


Rodgers, Nelson Find Their Rhythm In the Snow

As flurries gracefully fell to the ground and covered the Frozen Tundra with the season’s first snowfall, the elite duo of Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson kept their playoff hopes alive with a vintage clutch-performance in the 4th quarter of the Packers (6-6) 21-13 win over the Houston Texans (6-6) on Sunday.

After Green Bay managed to squander three first-half drives with field possession at their own 40-yard line or better, not many people imagined anything good coming from a drive starting at their own 2-yard line late in the third.

Not only had their offense been non-existent since a Randall Cobb touchdown catch early in the 2nd quarter, the Green Bay defense had finally broken down and conceded a touchdown pass to Brock Osweiler, the league’s worst rated passer, making it a 7-7 ball game early in the second half.

It looked to be one of those days yet again for the Green and Gold.

Just two plays into the drive, the Packers were confronted with a 3rd and 1, after only converting on 1 of 9 third downs prior, the pre-play feeling was again a collective “here we go again” across the state of Wisconsin.

However, this time they turned to perhaps their most versatile offensive weapon in receiver turned running back Ty Montgomery to get something going.

NFL Tickets

Montgomery took the third down hand off and scampered 13 yards, stiff-arming linebacker Benardrick McKinney to the ground along the way. It was the first of three 4th quarter third-down conversions, the next being a 10-yard pass to tight-end Jared Cook three plays later to end the third quarter.

Davante Adams, a standout in recent weeks, would open up the fourth quarter on the next play with his only catch of the afternoon. After being blanketed by multiple players on almost every pass play, he and Rodgers found just enough space to complete a 17-yard out route down the right sideline.

What won’t show up on the stat-line is the run he made after pulling in the difficult catch.

Adams was able to juke, spin, and sprint about 40 yards after the catch before being taken down inside the Texans 20, but he was eventually ruled out-of-bounds at the spot of the catch after some confusion.

Even though the extra yardage didn’t count, the impressive play-making of Adams reinvigorated the crowd. After seeing Green Bay waste so many great opportunities early, they needed a jump start like the one he provided to give them an energy boost the rest of the way.

Just three plays later, Rodgers was able to find Jordy Nelson standing wide-open in the endzone for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 12:42 left after Texans cornerback Charles James slipped on the snowy turf.

On the 12 play, 98-yard drive Rodgers completed four passes to four different players (R. Rodgers, Cook, Adams, Nelson) for 68 yards on the way to the endzone.

The 4th quarter heroics weren’t quite done for Rodgers and Nelson.

Now up 14-7, Green Bay took over on their next drive after a defensive stand and terrific punt from Houston punter Shane Lechler at their own 11.

After a short run from Montgomery on first down, Rodgers gunned a deep second down pass along the right sideline, a beautifully thrown ball to Nelson for 21 yards, who immediately went to the ground in hopes of avoiding an oncoming defender.

The two would hook up one more time on possibly the play of the game.

On a crucial 3rd and 6 from midfield still only up 7, Rodgers lofted a floater down the left side of the field where only Nelson and his defender were located. Nelson went up and grabbed the ball at it’s highest point from the finger tips of a Texans defensive back and brought it cleanly to the ground.

They followed up the pass with a 19-yard run on an end-around by receiver Jeff Janis to the 3, before fullback Aaron Ripkowski powered it in on the next play to give Green Bay a 21-7 lead with 4:11 remaining.

Houston would have a quick answer, as Brock Osweiler would find DeAndre Hopkins on 44-yard touchdown pass with 1:51 to play. Kicker Nick Novak slipped on the extra point attempt and missed, leaving the score 21-13.

This would be the games final score as Davante Adams recovered the Texans onside kick attempt to essentially ice the game.

Even though it wasn’t always smooth sledding though the conditions and his lingering hamstring strain, Rodgers finished the game completing 20 of his 30 pass attempts for 209 yards and two touchdowns. It was also his third straight game with a QB Rating of over 105.0, after only accomplishing that twice in the previous nine games.

His battery-mate Nelson caught 8 of the 10 balls thrown his way for 118 yards (81 in the 4th quarter) and the late-game touchdown.

Nelson has now caught 69 balls for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016, second most in the league, after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Despite not getting the headlines, he has placed himself among the top candidates for NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Also notable on the day was the improved effort on the defensive side of the ball for Green Bay.

The Packers top-10 ranked rush defense held 5th ranked rusher in the league Lamar Miller to 22 yards on 14 carries, only 1.6 yards per attempt. On the day Houston rushed for 123 yards on the ground, a large portion coming from draw plays to back-up running backs Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes on third and long or in other obvious passing situations.

Brock Osweiler had one of his better games of the season going 22 of 35 for 200 yards, but was bolstered by the late touchdown to Hopkins, that aside he posed no real threat to the Packers secondary.

Green Bay linebacker Julius Peppers also recorded an important sack on Osweiler just before half-time, number 142.5 of his career, officially placing him 5th on the all-time list above Michael Strahan.

The now streaking Packers will be put to the ultimate test next weekend within the legendary confines of Lambeau Field when they welcome the Seattle Seahawks to town for what could be a season-maker, or season-ender.

The Packers 14-game winning streak in December with Aaron Rodgers under center will be put to the test, but we should all know better than to doubt by now, right?