Dolphins fall to Packers after Aaron Rodgers’ TD in final seconds
Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers celebrates after throwing the winning touchdown in their victory over the Miami Dolphins (27-24) on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014 at SunLife Stadium. As Dolphins players look on with disappointment.
By Dedrick D. Henry, Sr.
By giving up the winning score with three seconds left Sunday, the Miami Dolphins provided plenty of fodder for second-guessers. “You can always second-guess because of the outcome,” Miami receiver Mike Wallace said. “You win some calls, you lose some calls.”
Aaron Rodgers‘ 4-yard touchdown pass to Quarless gave the Packers the win. Quarless easily outmaneuvered linebacker Philip Wheeler, who wasn’t thrilled with a defensive scheme that 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.” If Rodgers was grateful for the Dolphins’ timeouts during the final drive — including one that stopped the clock — he didn’t admit it.
“We were kind of rolling there,” he said. “That settled them down a little bit.” The Dolphins were unable to run out the clock with the lead. They tried four passes and ran only three times on their final possession before punting with 2:15 left. Coach Joe Philbin said he wanted to be aggressive in that situation.
“We know the type of quarterback that we’re playing against,” Philbin said. “We decided we were going to do whatever we have to do to get a first down.” 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 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. CornerbacksTramon 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.”
Rodgers directed consecutive scoring drives of 68 and 60 yards. 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.
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. But they trailed 24-20 starting 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 Nelsonfor 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 to set up the winning touchdown. “That was some freestyling right there,” Rodgers said.
“Smart play,” Miami’s Jared Odrick said. “Kudos to them for thinking that fast.”
Green Bay made a goal line stand in the first quarter, stopping Miami three consecutive times at the 1 yard line, including on fourth down when Williams tackled Knowshon Moreno for a loss. Casey Hayward intercepted Tannehill to set up a field goal.
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.