Goska: Rally eludes pass-heavy Packers

Eric Goska
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Fourth-quarter turnovers doomed Green Bay in the 110th regular-season meeting between the Packers and the Minnesota Vikings.

The likelihood of such miscues occurring would have been diminished had Green Bay not been forced to the air so often in the late going.

The Vikings successfully opened U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday night by knocking off the Packers 17-14. The win was the 50th for Minnesota in a regular-season series that dates to 1961.

Sam Bradford threw for 286 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Vikings built a 17-7 lead through three quarters. The former Rams and Eagles QB completed 71 percent of his passes (22 of 31) despite having been with the team for little more than two weeks.

That 10-point lead compelled the Packers to play catch-up. It’s a game the team often loses when turning pass-heavy in the fourth quarter.

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As with most games decided by three points, the final 15 minutes were crucial. A mistake here (lost fumble), a mistake there (interception) can make the difference.

Rodgers was guilty of both. Brian Robison dislodged the ball on a sack to end one drive and Trae Waynes grabbed a throw intended for Davante Adams to squelch another. The second turnover came with one minute, 50 seconds remaining. Minnesota ran out the clock from there.

Historically, the Packers (like most teams) do not fare well when their quarterback is required to throw 10 or more times in the fourth quarter.

Rodgers was 7-for-13 for 100 yards and the interception in the final 15 minutes. His passer rating during that quarter was 47.0.

It was the 35th time Rodgers attempted 10 or more passes in a fourth quarter. The team’s record when he does so is a meager 7-28 (.200) and that includes two games before he became the starter.

Defensively, the Packers played well enough down the stretch. They held Minnesota to 15 yards on 13 plays in the fourth quarter.

Offensively, the 110 yards Green Bay gained during that span — its most productive quarter of the night — was of little consolation.

As a rookie, all 16 of Rodgers’ throws came in the fourth quarter. In his second game as a pro, Rodgers played out the string in a miserable 48-3 loss to the Ravens, going 8-for-15 for 65 yards and an interception (36.8 rating). He was sacked three times.

Rodgers is merely the latest Packers quarterback to struggle in the final frame. Brett Favre (22-62; .262), Don Majkowski (7-19; .269), Lynn Dickey (4-26-1; .145) and Bart Starr (5-6-2; .462) also failed to mount comebacks as often as they would have liked when throwing 10 or more times.

Don Horn (0-4), Mike Tomczak (0-5) and Randy Wright (0-14) couldn’t muster even one.

Staging an air show in the fourth quarter can be avoided. It requires playing well in the opening 45 minutes.

Sunday’s game not withstanding, the Packers have done a commendable job in that regard in recent years. Rodgers is 74-14 when throwing fewer than 10 times in the fourth quarter.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) heads for the end zone as free safety Harrison Smith (22) makes a diving attempt to stop him against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Rodgers’ run at history

Rodgers’ 10-yard touchdown run provided the only score of the fourth quarter. The impromptu dash not only pulled Green Bay to within three points of the Vikings, it gave Rodgers more career rushing yards than any quarterback in Packers history.

It’s no secret Rodgers can run. While not in the same league as a Michael Vick or a Randall Cunningham, Rodgers can hurt an opponent with his feet.

For nearly 60 years, Tobin Rote was the standard bearer for Green Bay. From 1950 through '56, Rote amassed 2,205 yards on the ground and three times (1951, '52, '56) led the team in rushing.

Rodgers had 2,191 yards before playing the Vikings. He ran for 29 on three attempts against Minnesota to boost his total to 2,220.

Rodgers’ first run gained nine yards and ended in a fumble (recovered by tight end Jared Cook). He picked up 10 yards and a first down on his third carry when he bolted from the pocket with 3:19 remaining.

Though Rodgers never has led the team in rushing, his 20 first downs via that route were a team best in 2012. He tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns in 2008 (4), 2010 (4) and 2012 (2).

In addition to ranking first in yards, Rodgers now has made more runs of 10 yards (88) and rushing first downs (165) than any quarterback in team history. His 23 career rushing touchdowns rank second to Rote’s 29.

Rodgers has scored both of Green Bay’s rushing touchdowns this season. He joins Rote (1956) as the only quarterbacks to register the first two of the season for the Packers.

QBs as RBs

Since 1947 (the year the Packers switched to the T formation), quarterbacks who have rushed for more than 1,000 yards for Green Bay.

Yds.     Quarterback          TDs

2,220   Aaron Rodgers      23

2,205   Tobin Rote            29

1,786   Brett Favre            13

1,308   Bart Starr              15

1,037   Don Majkowski    9

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