Hobbled but happy, Aaron Rodgers might have felt a bit lucky, too.
No matter: The All-Pro quarterback and his Green Bay Packers are one step away from the Super Bowl.
More stationary than usual because of a left calf injury, Rodgers rallied the Packers from an 8-point deficit with two second-half touchdowns passes to beat Dallas 26-21 Sunday.
The Packers (13-4), helped immensely by a video reversal with 4:06 remaining, went undefeated at Lambeau Field this season. They head to Seattle next weekend for the NFC title game.
The Seahawks (13-4) beat Green Bay in the season opener, 36-16.
”I think I got 120 minutes left in me,” Rodgers said.
Green Bay might not have had any time left in its season if not for referee Gene Steratore’s decision. Dez Bryant‘s leaping, bobbling 31-yard catch at the Packers 1 on a fourth-and-2 play was challenged by Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy. Instead of first-and-goal for Dallas (13-5), the ball went over to the Packers.
”Some people think throwing the red flag is fun,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. ”It was such an impactful play, you had to challenge. It was a confident challenge. And a hopeful one, too.”
One packed with controversy, as well.
”Look, I’ll tell you this, I’ve never seen that a day in my life,” Bryant said. ”I want to know why it wasn’t a catch.”
Because Bryant didn’t maintain control all the way to the ground, as the rule states. Replays showed Bryant bobbling the ball as he rolled into the end zone, with part of it touching the field.
”By rule he must hold onto it throughout entire process of contacting the ground,” tweeted Dean Blandino, the league’s director of officiating. ”He didn’t, so it is incomplete.”
An impassioned Bryant didn’t buy it.
”All I know is I had possession, I had possession of the ball coming down,” Bryant said. ”That’s possession, right? One, two, reach. Bam, that’s possession.”
Green Bay closed it out before a Lambeau-record 79,704 on Randall Cobb‘s diving 12-yard reception of a deflected pass on third-and-11. That gave Cobb eight catches for 116 yards and set off a raucous celebration at the iconic venue.
”It’s unbelievable,” Cobb said. ”For the ball to get tipped and magically appear in my area, you can’t tell me there’s not a God. That was a crazy play.”
One of many.