Rodgers-to-Cook joins list of legendary clutch NFL playoff catches : Packers Insider

Rodgers-to-Cook joins list of legendary clutch NFL playoff catches

January 15, 2017 by  
Filed under News

By David Steele, The Sporting News

~Aaron Rodgers was already in the all-time NFL quarterback pantheon. Now he has a throw on the list of the all-time greatest, biggest, most clutch and most unforgettable. He’s in some select company — he earned his place Sunday night in Arlington.

So where does that throw to Jared Cook rank? With three seconds left, on third-and-20, rolling to his left, running out of room, and hitting Cook with even less room, toenails dragging the sideline, for 36 yards? The one that saved the Packers season and killed the Cowboys and freaked out even Rodgers’ gushiest admirers?

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Too bad it wasn’t in the Super Bowl, or with the Super Bowl on the line. But when it’s win-or-go-home, making plays like that one means the same thing. So yes, for setting up Mason Crosby’s game-winning field goal in the Packers’ 34-31 defeat of the Cowboys, it belongs on the list — even if the Packers don’t survive next week’s NFC championship game in Atlanta.

It will still join the ranks of The Catch, by Dwight Clark from Joe Montana in the 1981 NFC title game. And the Helmet Catch, by David Tyree from Eli Manning in Super Bowl 42. And the one Manning threaded to Mario Manningham along the sidelines, similar to Rodgers and Cook, four years later in Super Bowl 46.

January 15th, 2017 Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
[object Object] Green Bay Packers 7 14 7 6 34
[object Object] Dallas Cowboys 3 10 0 18 31

For toe-tapping excellence, it’s up there with Santonio Holmes from Ben Roethlisberger to give the Steelers the win in Super Bowl 43. For game-savers in the same round that the Packers pulled it off, there was the Steve Smith 69-yarder from Jake Delhomme in the second overtime in the 2003 playoffs to launch the Panthers toward Super Bowl 38, and Terrell Owens’ game-winner from Steve Young in the 1998 playoffs for the 49ers against Brett Favre’s Packers.

Clearly, it takes Hall of Fame talent on at least one end of a play like this. The Packers had that. Rodgers has spread this sort of magic around multiple times before, as recently as a year ago, in the same round, when his Hail Mary sent their playoff game against the Cardinals into overtime. They lost that one.

MORE: Deja vu in Arlington for Packers, Rodgers

Not this time, though — because, Rodgers said, this is what they do now, dial up miracles when they need it, and treat it as if they’re not miracles.

“We have a good repertoire for the end of games, whether it’s the well-publicized Hail Marys or the other plays we’ve hit over the years, to kind of draw from,’’ he said afterward. “And we kind of picked that one out, and we executed it well at the most important part of the game.’’

Of course, immediately after the game, he also told Fox, “It’s just kind of schoolyard at times late in the game like that.”

How schoolyard? Here’s how Pack receiver Randall Cobb described it:

Cobb said the final play was not an actual playcall. Rodgers just told each receiver what to do, like a kid drawing in the dirt. Seriously.

Rodgers acknowledged said it was just well-rehearsed schoolyard. It included blocking schemes that kept him upright and gave Cook enough time to get downfield.

And, of course, Rodgers throwing it where only Cook could catch it, and Cook getting hands and feet aligned to catch it and make it count. Rodgers kept making sure Cook got credit over and over for making the catch.

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Others made sure Rodgers got credit for being who he’s been for a long time.

“Someone said he’s been hot for the last seven or eight weeks; he’s been hot since 2008,’’ Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said with an admiring grimace.

Garrett was criticized in many corners for the spike he called on the Cowboys’ game-tying field goal drive, which among other things, led to Rodgers needing just a field goal to win, and having just enough time to get them into range.

Realistically, in the situation the Cowboys were in, there wasn’t much they could do to keep Rodgers off the field.

When Rodgers was sacked on a safety blitz two plays before the big one — miraculously holding onto the ball — and needed to call a Packers timeout, they almost didn’t end up with enough time.

But there was time for one throw and one catch to propel Rodgers and Cook into the rarefied air of Montana and Clark … and the rest of that elite company.

Original story here

Cook also scored this big touchdown earlier in the game.

 

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