Rodger’s first OT win a sign of future success for Green Bay
NFL Sunday was full of talking points this week. In the Packers vs Bengals game, it was that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was finally able to achieve his first overtime win. They look like a team that is ready to go all the way this season, writes Erin McRitchie.
In a career that has included being a first round draft pick, a 6 time Pro Bowler, a 2 time winner of the NFL Most Valuable Player Award, a Super Bowl champion and a Super Bowl MVP – there is one thing that has alluded star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. A main stay of the Packers roster since 2005, Rodgers has never won a game that has gone into overtime.
So you could forgive the Green Bay QB for being nervous when their match with the Cincinnati Bengals did just that on Sunday. With 0:21 left on the clock in the fourth quarter, it was an out-route pass from Rodgers to wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who was good for the clutch touchdown, that paved the way for overtime. The teams sat tied at 24-24 and the Bengals won the coin toss, opting to receive.
From this point on the Packers exemplified composure, and heads-down ‘we’ve got this’ attitudes. Demonstrating his phenomenal game-reading abilities, Rodgers once again found one of his wide receivers. This time it was rookie Geronimo Allison. He hit him with a pass that resulted in a 72-yard gain for the Packers. A field goal was granted.
A huge sense of relief must have filled Rodgers as he watched placekicker Mason Crosby make good on the 27-yard field goal. The final score line read 27-24 to the Packers. After seven previous failed attempts, Rodgers had finally won a game in overtime.
He is not the only redefining records, however. Since his first round draft pick in 2009, linebacker Clay Matthews has become one of the most recognisable faces in the NFL. Matthews is a star pass rusher, a dynamic defender who can play both inside and outside linebacker, and a fierce character on the field. But with a streak of a minimum six sacks for every season he has been in the league, he is recognisable by his renowned sack celebration.
This season, Matthews is closing in on the history books. The linebacker is just one sack away from the Packers all-time franchise record for sacks by a defensive player. It is currently held by Kabeer Gbaja Biamila (with 74 recorded sacks), but Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy is confident that Matthews will not only break it, but that the sacks won’t stop anytime soon: “This is just a milestone he’s getting ready to jump over.”
If the game against the Atlanta Falcons in week two is anything to go by, then McCarthy is certainly not wrong. Matthews managed to get to Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for a total of one-and-a-half sacks. It must not be any quarterback’s dream image during a game – a determined and experienced Clay Matthews charging at you, intent on taking you down to ground.
Matthews wealth of experience and skill could also serve as encouragement for rookies such as Josh Jones, who recorded his first NFL career sack against the Bengals, to work on their own personal games, in hopes of one day becoming as accomplished and well-known as Matthews.
All in all, if performances like those shown against the Bengals and the determination to achieve records like that shown by Matthews – who is to say that this Green Bay Packers team isn’t one which could have a successful season this year? Anyone else already dreaming of them making a Super Bowl appearance?…