Skip to main content

Packers' duo from Cal now has its own 'The Play'

The San Francisco 49ers' Blaine Gabbert, Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton, Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Jameis Winston and New York Jets' Ryan Fitzpatrick each had the strength to come through during a key moment and contribute to wins during Week 13.

Thanks to those strong performances, each player is up for Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer of the Week honors. This is a deeper look at the significance of those conquests.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Strong stats to consider:
» The winning play in the Packers' 27-23 win over the Detroit Lions was the second-longest offensive game-winning touchdown on the final play of regulation in NFL history. Aaron Rodgers' 61-yard Hail Mary came four yards short of Earl Morrall and Jim Gibbons combining for a 65-yard game-winning play for the Detroit Lions in a 20-15 win over the Johnny Unitas-led Baltimore Colts in 1960.
» The victory also represented the four-biggest comeback win in Packers franchise history. The Packers overcame a 20-point deficit to win, which rates behind a 23-point deficit overcame in a 35-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams in 1982, a 23-point deficit in a 37-36 win over the Dallas Cowboys in 2013 and a 21-point deficit in a 35-34 win over the New Orleans Saints in 1989. The quarterbacks responsible for those comebacks were Lynn Dickey, Matt Flynn and Don Majkowski.

Power of the moment: By now, what hasn'tbeen saidabout thehistoric Hail Maryplay by Rodgersin Detroit? One of the most interesting historical sidenotes about the play was Richard Rodgers' involvement. It's important to note that Richard Rodgers' father -- Richard Rodgers -- was a part of the famous Cal-Stanford play. Richard Rodgers (the father) tossed two of the five laterals during the improbable dream of a play pulled off by Cal in 1982.

Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco 49ers

Strong stats to consider:
» The 49ers' 26-20 overtime win over the Chicago Bears was the 49ers' first regular-season road win over the Bears since 1974. On that day, Tom Owen (49ers), and Gary Huff and Bobby Douglass (Bears), were the quarterbacks. The 49ers, of course, prevailed at Soldier Field in the 1988 NFC Championship Game.
» Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has lost six consecutive starts in the month of December.

Power of the moment: Gabbert pulled off two massive plays for the win. Gabbert's 44-yard touchdown scamper to tie the game with 1:42 remaining was his first career rushing touchdown and the longest run of his career. Gabbert's 71-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in overtime was his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver this season. The two unusual events gave the 49ers a thrilling victory.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Strong stats to consider:
» The Panthers' 41-38 win over the New Orleans Saints was Carolina's 16th consecutive regular-season win. That is the longest active streak in the NFL by 10 games (the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs are currently riding six-game win streaks). Those 16 games also represent the longest regular-season win streak for an NFC team since the AFL-NFL merger.
» Newton had five touchdown passes in the win. In his first 71 career starts, Newton never had even thrown four touchdown passes. He's thrown five touchdown passes in two of the last three games. Since 2008, only two other quarterbacks had a pair of five touchdown games in a three-game span (Drew Brees in 2011 and Ben Roethlisberger in 2014).

Power of the moment: The play of Newton has put the Panthers in a very good position to reach the Super Bowl. The Panthers are now one of nine teams in the Super Bowl era to start a season 12-0. Six of the previous eight teams reached the Super Bowl and four of those teams won it. So, you're saying there's a chance?

Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Strong stats to consider:
» In the Buccaneers' 23-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Winston scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. He has already tied a Buccaneers franchise record, which was set by Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young in 1986 and Shaun King in 2000.
» Winston attempted 27 passes (completing 18 of those) in the win over the Falcons. When Winston attempts less than 30 passes a game, the Buccaneers are 5-1.

Power of the moment: Don't look now, but the Buccaneers are in the thick of the NFC playoff race. Tampa Bay resides just a game behind the even-more-so scorching-hot Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card chase. Thanks in large part to Winston's late-game heroics, the Buccaneers pushed their record to 6-6 on the season after having won four of their last six games. On Sunday, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft pulled off his third game-winning drive of the season.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

Strong stats to consider:
» In the Jets' 23-20 overtime win over the New York Giants, Fitzpatrick attempted 50 passes. This is noteworthy because this was the first time Fitzpatrick was a winner when he attempted so many passes (in four career games). Fitzpatrick became the seventh quarterback this season to attempt 50 or more passes and not have an interception in that same game. That is tied for the most quarterbacks to do so in a single season (2012).
» Fitzpatrick's target for the game-tying touchdown -- Brandon Marshall -- had quite a day. Marshall finished the game with 12 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown. Those 12 receptions were the most for a Jets wide receiver since Laveranues Coles in Week 15 of the 2006 season.

Power of the moment: Fitzpatrick rallied the Jets from a late-game 10-point deficit to prevail over the team that also calls MetLife Stadium its home. For now, the Jets have bragging rights over New York and the two teams' stadium. What is probably more important is the fact that the Jets would make the playoffs if the season ended today. The Giants? Not so much, even in the super-lousy NFC East.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content