Lots of quarterbacks put up some huge numbers during Week 1 of the NFL season, and some of their wide receivers need to be recognized for their plays. One of the finest catches of the weekend came from Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson on the sidelines against the San Francisco 49ers:
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy nearly cost his team a touchdown by throwing a challenge flag on a play by the goal line that was likely already going to be reviewed. Luckily for Green Bay, wide receiver Jordy Nelson did his best to cover his coach’s tracks.
Nelson picked up the challenge flag and tried hiding it around his waist as he was walking off the field. Nelson apparently knew what McCarthy didn’t, and that is that coaches are penalized for throwing challenge flags on the field for plays that are automatically reviewed.
Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was burned earlier this season for throwing a challenge flag on a play that was going to be reviewed, and that gave the Houston Texans a touchdown that likely would have been reversed.
The officials gave Green Bay a break and determined that McCarthy threw the challenge flag after they decided to already review the play, so the Packers were only penalized 15 yards on the kickoff. Aaron Rodgers was credited with an eight-yard touchdown pass to James Jones to make it 27-24 Minnesota.
Why would McCarthy have thrown the flag on the play? There was no indication from the referees that it was a scoring play, so maybe he felt he needed to challenge that it was a touchdown. That’s probably why he threw it.
The Lambeau Leap is a tradition unlike any other in sports. Packers players have a seemingly closer connection with their fans than any other team in the NFL, and that is do in large part to the Lambeau Leap. However, Greg Jennings reminded us on Thursday that there are some — gasp — negatives to the most famous touchdown celebration in football.
“I try to go away from the men because the men get a little grabby,” Jennings told Erik Kuselias of NBC Sports Radio, according to Pro Football Talk. “The women get grabby too but them men it’s like come on, really, seriously? I’m another guy.”
There’s no telling what happens under those pile-ups when the beer is flowing and the testosterone is spiking. A little grabbage comes with the territory.
Jennings also talked about a fellow receiver who is expected to do the Lambeau Leap a lot this season, Jordy Nelson. Many view Nelson as one of the most underrated players in football, and Jennings thinks he knows why.
“I think for whatever reason a guy looks across at Jordy, number one, they’re going to think ,‘He’s a white guy he’s not that fast,’ but he has game,” he said. “Bottom line he can play. He can catch the ball, he can make things happen when he gets the ball in his hands. You’ve got to take him serious, I’ll tell you that, when you line up across from him.”
Nelson said nearly the exact same thing last season and we have heard it from a white running back in the past as well. If last year’s 1,263-yard, 15-touchdown season didn’t open the eyes of opponents, they’re going to get burned again by Nelson in 2012.
In 20 years, asking for the name of the quarterback who holds the Packers’ record for passing yardage and passing touchdowns in a single game could be a terrific trivia question. Unless Aaron Rodgers or some other Green Bay quarterback can throw for more than 480 yards and 6 touchdowns in a game, the answer will be the incomparable Matt Flynn. Guesses are sure to include Rodgers, Brett Favre, and Bart Starr.
With Flynn turning in a record-breaking performance and leading the Packers to a Week 17 victory over the Lions, there have been some rumblings about Rodgers’ success being a product of a great offensive system in Green Bay. If Flynn can do it that means anyone can, right? Jordy Nelson laughs at such suggestions.
“That’s a joke,” Nelson said during an interview with WSSP in Milwaukee. “I think that’s very disrespectful for people to say that about Aaron. The year he’s had, the past couple years he’s had, have been incredible. I think that’s very disrespectful for a guy who’s put a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of work into his game. To have a great year, as he’s had … and now all of the sudden he’s a system quarterback. I don’t agree with any of that.”
Neither do we. What Flynn did last Sunday was truly remarkable. When you consider the fact that Rodgers, Favre, and Starr have over 30 years of Packers starts between them, it is amazing that someone like Flynn would hold those two records. That being said, people love to overreact.
What Flynn did on Sunday may have earned him a rather large payday in the future, but it says nothing about the season Rodgers had. Rodgers is surrounded with weapons on offense, but he just turned in arguably the greatest single season by any quarterback ever. An accomplishment like that takes a combination of a great system and a great starter. When you’re talking about 45 touchdowns, over 4,600 yards, and only six interceptions, the latter holds far more weight.
Wide receiver Jordy Nelson is in his fourth season with the Green Bay Packers, and he’s become one of the team’s top receiving options. Used primarily as a third receiver and kick returner his first three years, Nelson has already topped his career high receiving yards and touchdowns through nine games. He has 34 catches for 633 yards and seven touchdowns — the latter of which is tied for the team lead.
His success may be deceptive to some because of his skin color. In fact, Nelson and some of his teammates believe he benefits from opponents underestimating him because he’s white.
From the Green Bay Press-Gazette:
The Green Bay Packers won the game. At the end of the day, nothing else matters. Aaron Rodgers became a deserving Super Bowl MVP and finally got his championship belt. There will be no curse of Brett Favre, as the Packers have now won as many rings since his departure as they did when he was leading the charge. The trophy has come back to Titletown.
All that important stuff being said, let’s take a minute to think about what could have been for Jordy Nelson had he hung on to everything that was thrown his way. Rodgers finished the game with an impressive 111.5 passer rating, one that would have been a lot higher without several drops from his receiving corps. Nelson finished with nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown — an astounding stat line considering he dropped three perfectly-thrown balls.
With the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers meeting in Super Bowl 45, there was little doubt the Packers would be throwing the ball frequently. That’s been their offensive approach throughout the season, plus, the Steelers have one of the best run defenses all time.
The Packers held true to their gameplan early in the contest by throwing 66.7% of the time (10 out of 15 offensive plays) in the first quarter. The surprise factor was the matchup they identified as one to exploit: Jordy Nelson against William Gay.
Nelson was only fourth on the team in targets during the regular season with 64, well behind Greg Jennings’ team-leading 125. Even James Jones and Donald Driver saw much more action, receiving 87 and 84 looks from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, respectively. In the first quarter alone, Nelson was targeted five times, catching three passes for 47 yards including Green Bay’s first touchdown.
On the team’s previous drive, he let what could have been a 49-yard touchdown pass go through his hands.
Nelson’s five targets led the team by a wide margin — Jennings had two passes thrown his way and only three receivers caught a pass each.
Green Bay’s offense generally spreads out the opposing defense with multiple receiver sets, and Nelson is often their fourth receiver in the shotgun formation. It was apparent in the opening quarter that their plan was to target Nelson and exploit his matchup on Steelers corner back William Gay. It worked perfectly. Catching a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl? Not bad for a kid who played quarterback in high school.
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