Mike Vandermause column: Hollywood finish? It sure felt like one

Nov. 18, 2012

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks downfield during the fourth quarter of Sunday's game at Ford Field in Detroit. Guard Evan Dietrich-Smith (62) said Rodgers "had that look about him" as the Packers started a key drive in the fourth quarter. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette


DETROIT — It wasn’t some fiery locker room speech or a heartfelt emotional plea that coach Mike McCarthy used to motivate the Green Bay Packers in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions.

Instead, McCarthy showed his players a clip from the 1994 movie “Forrest Gump” as a reminder to keep battling on every play, no matter how difficult things get.

“It was a good message this week,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers following the Packers’ hard-fought 24-20 victory over the Lions on Sunday at Ford Field. “He showed a ‘Forrest Gump’ clip when he was running, just sitting on his porch there and (he) just started running. That’s just kind of part of the message was just to keep playing.”

With just more than 4 minutes remaining and the Packers trailing 20-14, it was the perfect theme for the offense, which had sputtered all game.

After scoring just seven offensive points on their first nine possessions, the Packers were faced with a daunting challenge. If they didn’t drive 82 yards for a touchdown in the final minutes, they would lose the game.

“Aaron pulled us all up together,” center Jeff Saturday said. “He said, ‘Look, it hasn’t been a great day for any of us.’ We hadn’t done a whole lot, but now’s the time.

“We just all united and had a heck of a drive.”

It took just six plays and less than 2 minutes for the Packers to reach the end zone. Jermichael Finley’s 40-yard reception was the catalyst, and Randall Cobb’s 22-yard touchdown grab with 1:55 left was the clincher.

“Coach McCarthy, the whole week his theme was the next play, keep playing the next play,” Saturday said. “It’s not going to be pretty. It’s going to be an ugly game, it always is. You know it’s going to be a dogfight, and that was really our mentality.”

The victory created a buzz in the Packers’ locker room. It wasn’t because of an overly impressive performance, but rather, there was a sense of pride in their tenacity.

“It’s important to really stay in tune with what we really stressed going into this game,” said McCarthy, whose players clearly listened to his message.

“(We) showed toughness,” Finley said. “And the effort, guys going all in. That’s what we did.”

The satisfaction of being able to overcome a lengthy string of mistakes and blown chances made the win even sweeter.

Up until the game-winning drive, the Packers had generated just 233 total yards. They had four punts, two missed field goals, an interception and a loss of possession on downs to show for their efforts.

“Every game is not going to be pretty,” receiver James Jones said. “Good ball clubs win these type of games, when your back’s against the wall, you haven’t been going that well, things haven’t been going your way. We just said in the huddle, this is a defining moment for our team.”

The winning drive started with a confident Rodgers directing the offense. “He came out there, he had that look about him,” guard Evan Dietrich-Smith said.

That look seemed to energize everyone on the field.

“(We) went out there, we had that mindset that we couldn’t be stopped that drive,” Cobb said.

Rodgers went 3-for-4 for 68 yards and James Starks ran twice for 14 yards.

“When we had to have it, we came through,” Rodgers said.

“We knew we had to put together a drive. Whatever play was called, whatever check was made, whatever look we saw, we had to make the plays.”

And for the Packers, the ending couldn’t have been scripted any better.

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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