Earlier this season, after Green Bay fell to 4-6, Aaron Rodgers told everyone to r-e-l-a-x and that the Packers simply needed to run the table. Eight straight wins later, Rodgers has Green Bay back in the NFC Championship – and his late-game heroics against Dallas are a big reason why.
Rodgers has looked loose and calm throughout the Packers’ run, and it seems his teammates are following his lead.
“I think it’s like any quarterback,” PackerReport.com’s Bill Huber said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Everybody looks at the quarterback to lead the way. I remember what Rodgers said after the game. What was he focused on at the end of the game? He was focused on his breathing. He wasn’t focused on the Cowboys. He wasn’t focused on the plays. He was focused on his breathing and remaining calm, which I thought was a pretty interesting thing. For a lot of Rodgers’ tenure and Mike McCarthy’s tenure, these guys have been really bad in late-game situations. Mike McCarthy’s got one of the worst fourth-quarter comeback records in the league, and obviously Rodgers has been a part of that. It’s all changed this year.”
Indeed, the Packers have scratched out several late-game wins – or convincingly won games that looked shaky early on.
“You go back to Week 15 against the Bears where the game is suddenly tied and then Rodgers throws the lob pass to Nelson and they in the game,” Huber said. “You go to Week 17 against the Lions. They’re losing at halftime. You go to the Wild Card game against the Giants. They start off terribly. Nelson gets hurt, there’s the bad fourth-down decision, the Giants had momentum. They got out of that and won the game. And obviously against Dallas they had two late drives. I think that’s what stands out about this team compared to past teams.”
Since winning Super Bowl XLV, the Packers have experienced a lot of postseason heartbreak. Just look at their last three postseasons: overtime loss to the Niners, overtime loss to the Seahawks, overtime loss to the Cardinals.
“These guys aren’t like that,” Huber said. “I’m not saying they’re not going to lose in overtime this week, but they’ve been a lot better in clutch situations than they have been in the past, and that probably starts with the quarterback.”