Jordan Love’s midseason opportunity mirrors Aaron Rodgers’ game against Cowboys in 2007
Packers quarterback Jordan Love prepares for first start
Watch Packers quarterback Jordan Love practice Thursday afternoon
Kassidy Hill, Packers News
Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love are already experienced at being comparable NFL stories: Rodgers knows a thing or two about a quarterback drafted in the first round joining the team, presumably to replace a Packers legend.
The parallels will now include Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. When Love suits up at Arrowhead, it will represent an eerily similar circumstance to how Rodgers saw his first major action, a massive Thursday Night Football battle against the Dallas Cowboys in 2007.
On Nov. 29, Rodgers — in his third NFL season playing behind future Hall of Famer Brett Favre — was pressed into duty in a clash between two 10-1 teams when Favre left the game with a shoulder injury.
The Packers lost the game at Texas Stadium, 37-27, but Rodgers acquitted himself well by going 18 of 26 for 201 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions. Rodgers had seen a good chunk of time in blowout losses to Baltimore in 2005 and New England in 2006 (during which Rodgers was lost for the rest of the brief season with a broken foot), but this was his first substantive action in a meaningful matchup.
It was also conducted with the understanding that Favre would likely return the following week, which he did. Both the Cowboys and Packers finished the year 13-3, and though Dallas garnered the higher seed, the Packers went on to host the NFC Championship game that year after the New York Giants upset Dallas. The Giants, of course, also upset the Packers in Favre’s final game at the helm, after which Rodgers became the every-day starter.
Now, with Rodgers sidelined by COVID-19, Love also gets a chance to show what he can do, on the road, in a meeting against another of the league’s premier quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes. And with the cushion of expectation that Rodgers will return for the weeks ahead.
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A look back at that 2007 clash:
Favre was lost on an interception in the second quarter
Terence Newman intercepted a Favre pass with 10:18 left in the second quarter on a 2nd and 12 snap. Favre was jolted on the play by Nathan Jones, sustaining a right elbow injury and separated left shoulder. Despite the ailments, Favre was adamant that he’d be available for the Packers’ game the following week against Oakland.
On the next play, Dallas’ Miles Austin drew a 40-yard pass interference penalty on Jarrett Bush, and Terrell Owens beat Nick Collins for a touchdown and 27-10 lead.
It was already the second interception of the day for Favre, who was also sacked and fumbled on the first drive, a play negated by penalty. He finished 5 of 14 passing for 56 yards.
Favre did end up playing the next week in Oakland, helping Green Bay win 38-7. Favre completed 15 of 23 passes with two touchdowns in the game at Lambeau Field. The next time Aaron Rodgers threw an NFL pass, it was as Green Bay’s regular starter to open the 2008 season.
Rodgers helped the Packers stay in the game
Rodgers’ first drive ended in a punt but not the second, with Rodgers finding Greg Jennings for an 11-yard touchdown just before half. That was Rodgers’ first career touchdown pass and the first of 38 in his career caught by Jennings. Rodgers also led a scoring drive in his first second-half chance, punctuated with a Ryan Grant touchdown run that made it 27-24.
On the NFL Network broadcast, Cris Collinsworth offered a sentiment that he quickly took back.
“The Green Bay Packers are not going to win a whole lot with Aaron Rogers playing quarterback unless things change drastically,” Collinsworth said.
Rodgers promptly led the Packers on a scoring drive.
“Well, I knew I could get the Packers going if I just insulted their quarterback,” Collinsworth joked. “That was a pretty good little sophisticated drive by Aaron Rodgers. Congratulations.”
It was the second year of Thursday Night Football and a big win for the network when a game of this magnitude wound up on the schedule.
Tony Romo was on fire
Tony Romo completed 19 of 30 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns. He had one interception, but it truthfully should have been a fifth touchdown instead; Owens dropped the ball and Al Harris picked it off. The Wisconsin native had essentially sewn up a second straight Pro Bowl berth with the superb showing against the Packers’ defense, which was playing without injured Charles Woodson. Romo was able to make hay against backup Jarrett Bush, who was eventually replaced by rookie Tramon Williams. The defense was also without Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.
“You hope the backup is not going to play well, but (Rodgers) did a really good job,” Romo said after the game. “I still root for the Packers, but if they drop one or two more, that wouldn’t be disappointing.”
An onside kick nearly worked
Before Favre left, the Packers had some trickery up their sleeve. After Ryan Grant ran for a 62-yard touchdown, Mason Crosby and the Packers tried to surprise the Cowboys with an onside kick. Crosby recovered it, but the ball nicked John Kuhn before navigating the necessary 10 yards. The Cowboys scored on the ensuing drive to take a 20-10 lead.
Plenty of good takeaways
The loss snapped Green Bay’s road winning streak at seven games, but Green Bay still had a 3 1/2 game cushion in the NFC North and would go on to win the division.
Packers CEO Mark Murphy probably remembers it well. The subsequent Monday, the Packers board of directors voted to name Murphy the successor to president and CEO Bob Harlan, so it was an interesting new era for the Packers on two fronts.
Jennings finished with five catches for 87 yards, and A.J. Hawk posted three tackles for loss.
JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.
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