There was an article written for ESPN Insider this week following the Packers ugly loss at Cincinnati that asserted that Aaron Rodgers was not a clutch player.
The article cited a 5-24 record when Rodgers has had the ball in the fourth quarter in games where his team was down 1-8 points.
I am of the firm opinion that despite that record, Rodgers is someone I completely trust in clutch situations.
Facing a 3rd-and-10 on his own 25-yard line with under six minutes to play and a slim 28-25 lead on Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl, Rodgers steps up and fires a bullet to Greg Jennings, getting a crucial first down. Un-clutch? The Super Bowl MVP?
Aaron Rodgers record as a starting quarterback is 53-28 in the regular season and has of 103.6, third-best of all-time. I'll take him.
His terrific performances last season down the stretch in games at Detroit and vs. New Orleans are merely recent examples of games he has won in crunch time.
But, as it is, the record is 5-24 in these situations. The best quarterback in these situations is Tom Brady (27-23), the only quarterback along with Joe Montana who is over .500 in these situations.
Of the 24 games, seven times Rodgers gave his team the lead, only to see the defense cough it up. Four times, Mason Crosby has missed winning field goals. Twice, he has scored on do-or-die plays only to see the team fail him.
Also, this counts the Fail Mary game ('Nuff said.)
Let's take a look at those 24 losses in further depth, shall we?
Week one vs. San Francisco. The Packers entered the fourth quarter with the score tied, but the 49ers quickly kicked a field goal to go up 24-21. The Packers and Rodgers responded beautifully with a 77-yard drive to go up 28-24, only to see San Francisco score again to go up 31-28 with 5:51 to play. Thanks to an ill-advised decision by Jeremy Ross, Green Bay started at the 9-yard line and went 3-and-out. They got the ball back after a San Francisco field goal with under 30 seconds to play. Hard to place a lot of blame in this one.
Week three vs. Cincinnati. We all know about this one. Rodgers' biggest fourth-quarter sin came not in the inability to complete the final drive, but instead his critical interception at the beginning of the quarter.
With the Packers leading 30-21 and having just taken over after a Bengals missed field goal, Green Bay drove to the Bengals' 27-yard line. Already in field goal range and looking for perhaps a knockout punch, Rodgers made a rare bad decision, choosing to throw to Randall Cobb in tight coverage.
Leon Hall made the pick, the Bengals drove 95 yards for a touchdown and the rest is history. This one I can say Rodgers had a large part in.
Week one against San Francisco. This is a tough one. Rodgers took over with the Packers down 8 and less than four minutes on the clock. Green Bay made it to the San Francisco 45 before the drive was stopped. The Packers were thoroughly outplayed in this game, I can't really pin the loss on the failures of Rodgers.
Week three at Seattle. The Fail Mary game. No. This one is not on Aaron Rodgers. Next.
Week five at Indianapolis. Rodgers brought the Packers back in front with a touchdown drive with 4:30 left. The defense proceeded to let the Colts waltz down the field and score a touchdown with 39 seconds left. Even with that, Rodgers drove the Packers down and got them an attempted Mason Crosby 51-yard field goal. It missed. Badly. Not Rodgers' fault.
Week 17 at Minnesota. Entered the fourth quarter trailing 24-21, but immediately directed a field goal drive to tie it. Defense surrenders a touchdown, then Rodgers directs a beautiful drive culminating in a touchdown pass with 2:57 to play. Defense can't hold and gives up a gamew-winning field goal. NOT Rodgers fault.
Week 15 at Kansas City. Entered the fourth quarter trailing 9-7 and the defense gives up a field goal almost immediately to make it 12-7. Packers had two failed drives while Kansas City scores a touchdown to make it 19-7. Rodgers directs a TD drive that makes it 19-14 with 2:12 left, but the onside kick failed and the game was lost. Thanks to the two drives, he does share some responsibility.
Divisional round vs. New York Giants. Down 7 to start the quarter, the defense immediately gives up a field goal to put them down 10. Ryan Grant then fumbled, the Giants converted that into a touchdown and that was all she wrote. While Rodgers didn't play particularly well in the game, he can't be docked for not bringing them back in the fourth quarter.
Week three at Chicago. Entered the 4th up 10-7, and Devin Hester immediately returns a punt for a touchdown. Rodgers brings them back for a touchdown and a 17-14 lead. After the Bears tie it at 17, Rodgers has the team on the move when James Jones fumbles the ball near midfield. The Bears drive, kick a field goal and win. Not on Rodgers.
Week five at Washington. Entered the 4th leading 13-3. An immediate long touchdown pass by Donovan Mcnabb makes it 13-10. Two failed drives, featuring sacks and holding penalties follow and the 'Skins tie it up at 13. Rodgers takes over at his own 21 with one timeout left and directs the offense into field goal range. Crosby missed a 53-yarder as time expires. In offense, the Packers had one failed drive and then a bad interception from Rodgers. Sure, he shares blame for the pick that led to the winning field goal. But had Crosby converted in regulation, it's a win.
Week six vs. Miami. Entered the 4th trailing 13-10. The Packers get a field goal to tie it, then Miami scores a touchdown to go up 20-13 with 5:29 to play. Rodgers drives the team all the way down the field and scores on a quarterback sneak as time expires. The Packers get one chance in overtime and see their drive felled by a sack. Dolphins get a field goal to win it. Hard to really fault Rodgers in this one.
Week 12 at Atlanta. Enters the fourth quarter down 17-10. Rodgers directs a 90-yard touchdown drives that ends with perhaps one of the best throws of his career, a 10-yard laser to Jordy Nelson on fourth down to tie it with just 1:06 left. Falcons get a big kickoff return, get a field goal and win. Not on Rodgers.
Week two against Cincinnati. Packers enter the 4th quarter trailing 28-21. The quarter includes three failed drives and includes three sacks. Down 10 points, Rodgers works a field goal drive to cut the lead to 7. After recovering an onside kick, the Packers work their way down to the 10-yard line, but the game is declared over on a disputed false start call.
Week nine at Tampa Bay. Enters the 4th with a 21-18 lead, and directs a touchdown drive to make it 28-18. Defense gives up an immediate touchdown and the Packers have a failed drive. Tampa again scores immediately and Rodgers takes over down 32-28 with 4:14 left on his own 20-yard line. Two sacks and a holding penalty ruin the drive. After the defense holds, Rodgers takes over with 1:35 left on his own 13-yard line and zero timeouts. He eventually throws a pick-six to end the game. I'll give Rodgers some responsibility in this one.
Week 15 at Pittsburgh. Enters the 4th quarter trailing 24-14, Rodgers directs a TD drive to make it 24-21. Pittsburgh gets a field goal to make it 27-21, and Rodgers scores another touchdown, making it 28-27 Green Bay. Pittsburgh gets another field goal to make it 30-28. Rodgers responds with a touchdown drive with 2:12 left giving the Packers a 36-30 lead. The Steelers score a touchdown on 4th and 19 with time running out. Not on Rodgers.
Wild card game at Arizona. Entering the fourth quarter trailing 38-24. Directs two quick touchdown drives, but Arizona scores in between, making it 45-38 Cardinals. Rodgers directs the team on a 71-yard touchdown drive to tie the game with two minutes remaining. After Arizona misses a field goal to send it into overtime, a holding penalty puts the Packers in a hole. Rodgers is hit (illegally, by the way), fumbles, and the ball is returned for a touchdown. Not on Rodgers.
Vs. Atlanta, week five. In his first year as starting quarterback, Rodgers has six of the 24 losses. The first one comes against Atlanta. The Packers enter the fourth quarter trailing 17-10. Rodgers directs a tying drive with 10 minutes left. The Falcons go up by a field goal and Rodgers throws an interception on 3rd-and-19. Down 27-17, he directs a TD drive to cut the lead to 27-24 with 2 minutes left. The onside kick fails and the game is over.
At Tennessee, week nine. Enter the 4th down 16-13 to the 8-0 Titans. Rodgers leads a field goal drive to tie the game at 16. He did have one failed drive that ended at the Titans 39 yard-line. Titans win the overtime toss, kick a field goal and win the game.
At Minnesota, week 10. Enters the fourth quarter up 24-21. After one failed drive, the Packers kick a field goal to make it 27-21. The Vikings score to make it 28-27, and Rodgers takes over with 2:15 left. He directs a drive that sets up a Mason Crosby 52-yard field goal to win it.He misses. Not on Rodgers.
Vs. Carolina, week 13. Enter the 4th tied at 21, the Packers score a touchdown with 13:47 left to go up 28-21. Carolina immediately ties the game, and the Packers go on a long drive that ends on the one-yard line after three failed runs. The Packers kick a field goal to make it 31-28, only to see the Panthers score right away to make it 35-31. Rodgers takes over at his own 17-yard line with two timeouts and1:24 to play. He throws an interception and the game is over.
Vs. Houston, week 14. Down 13-7 to enter the fourth quarter, Rodgers directs a touchdown drive to make it 14-13 Packers. The defense gives up a touchdown to make it 21-14 and Rodgers responds with a touchdown to tie the game with six minutes left. The Packers do have one failed drive, while the Texans end the game with a winning score.
At Jacksonville, week 15. Up 13-7 entering the fourth quarter, the Jags score a quick touchdown to lead 14-13. Rodgers again puts the Packers in front with a field goal with 16-14 left. Jacksonville scores a touchdown to make it 19-14. Rodgers takes over on his own 16-yard line with 1:50 left and two timeouts. After driving to midfield, Rodgers throws an interception to end the game.
At Chicago week 16. Yes, this is four weeks in a row. I remember them well. Enters the 4th quarter up 14-10. Packers kick a field goal to go up 17-10. After the teams exchange failed drives, the Bears tie the score with 3:16 left.
Rodgers takes over at the Chicago 35 after a big penalty, and moves them down in order for Mason Crosby to win the game with a 38-yard field goal. It's blocked. The Bears win the toss, kick a field goal and win the game.
At Dallas, week 13. Yep, it started right away. In the first meaningful action of his career, Rodgers was 0-1 by measure of this statistic.
Rodgers entered the game with the Packers trailing 27-10 in the second quarter after Brett Favre was injured. Rodgers brought the Packers to within 27-24 at the start of the 4th quarter. After a failed drive, the Cowboys scored to make it 34-24. Rodgers led a field goal drive, closing the gap to 34-27 with 5:09 to play.
Dallas nearly ran out the clock, getting a field goal to make it 37-27 with a minute to play.
Not on Rodgers.