Oct 12, 2014 4:59 PM
Aaron Rodgers rallies Packers past Dolphins 27-24
The Associated Press
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Aaron Rodgers stood facemask to facemask with a teammate, screaming in jubilation at the end of a hot, harrowing afternoon.
Rodgers had the last word Sunday, throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless with three seconds left to help the Green Bay Packers rally past the Miami Dolphins 27-24.
Green Bay twice gave up leads and trailed 24-17 before Rodgers directed consecutive drives of 68 and 60 yards for the victory. He overcame a fumble and a fourth-and-10 on the Packers' final possession, and faked an intentional spike before throwing a completion that set up the touchdown.
"You want the opportunity to make a play there at the end," Rodgers said.
Rodgers finished with three touchdown passes and 264 yards while committing no turnovers. The Packers (4-2) earned their third consecutive victory, won in Miami for only the second time ever and remained tied with the Detroit Lions atop the NFC North.
The Dolphins (2-3) lost despite the return of six starters who had missed playing time. They overcame deficits of 10-3 and 17-10 to take a 24-17 lead with nine minutes left when Ryan Tannehill hit Mike Wallace for a 5-yard score.
At that point the Packers appeared to be wilting on a typical fall day in the subtropics sunny, humid and 85 degrees. Cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Sam Shields both appeared affected by the heat and left the game two plays apart in the third quarter.
"We knew this was going to be a tough game coming down here in the heat," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We said we weren't worried about it all week, and we weren't worried. But the fact of the matter is, we are from Wisconsin. So we fought through it."
The Packers kicked a field goal with 4:09 to go, making it 24-20, then forced a punt to start at their 40 with 2:04 remaining and no timeouts left.
Rodgers fumbled when sacked, and teammate T.J. Lang recovered. That set up a fourth-and-10, but Rodgers threw to Jordy Nelson for 18 yards, then hit James Starks on third-and-10 for 10 yards.
With the clock running following another completion, Rodgers faked a spike before throwing to Davante Adams, who gained 12 yards before going out of bounds with six seconds remaining.
"That was some freestyling right there," Rodgers said.
"Smart play," Miami's Jared Odrick said. "Kudos to them for thinking that fast."
Following a Dolphins timeout, Quarless easily outmaneuvered linebacker Philip Wheeler for the winning catch. Wheeler wasn't thrilled with the defensive scheme, which left him alone on the flank.
"I felt like it was 50 percent bad coverage, and 50 percent bad call," Wheeler said. "Rodgers is a really good quarterback, and he figured it out."
Playing in his 100th regular-season game, Rodgers also threw for scores of 9 yards to Nelson and 5 yards to Randall Cobb. He has 15 touchdowns passes and only one interception this season.
"I need to work on my vocabulary," McCarthy said. "The guy is a remarkable player."
With the Packers' secondary depleted, Tannehill threw for two scores and 143 yards in the second half, but he was unable to run out the clock with a 24-20 lead. The Dolphins tried four passes and ran only three times on their final possession.
"You can always second-guess because of the outcome," Wallace said. "You win some calls, you lose some calls."
Green Bay made a goal line stand in the first quarter, stopping Miami three consecutive times at the 1, including on fourth down when Williams tackled Knowshon Moreno for a loss. Casey Hayward intercepted Tannehill to set up a field goal.
The Packers enjoyed a 14 -minute advantage in time of possession, a big change from other games this season. Their run defense was ranked as the NFL's worst, but Miami's running backs totaled only 63 yards on 20 carries.
"One of those games where we were worn out, they were worn out, it comes down to the last drive," Rodgers said. "And we made enough plays."
Notes: Packers LB Jamari Lattimore left the game in the second quarter with a neck injury. The Packers said Shields was sidelined by a knee injury and Williams by an ankle injury. ... Miami Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey started at guard for the first time in his NFL career as he returned from an offseason injury. ... Packers LB Brad Jones was on the run with his back to a long pass when the ball struck his helmet, breaking up potential touchdown throw to Charles Clay. ... The smoke guns used to celebrate Dolphins scores fired prematurely in the fourth quarter as the ball was snapped. The smoke seemed prescient when Lamar Miller scored on the play.
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