East Rutherford, N.J. — Aaron Rodgers refused to sit this one out, even with the playoffs out of the question. And he willed the Green Bay Packers from setting some dubious franchise history.
A banged-up Rodgers threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 6:23 left in overtime, capping an eye-popping performance by leading the Packers to a wild 44-38 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
The win was the Packers’ first on the road this season — snapping a nine-game skid away from Lambeau Field dating to last season — and it prevented them from becoming the first Green Bay squad since 1958 to go an entire season without a win away from home.
“It’s good for the young guys to see what the locker room on the road feels like with a win, what the plane flight feels like,” Rodgers said. “How special that plane ride is after a road victory.”
And this one was all on Rodgers, who was masterful in the fourth quarter and the overtime period for the Packers (6-8-1).
He threw for 442 yards and touchdowns to Adams and Jake Kumerow, and also ran for two scores — his first since the 2016 season. That’s despite a groin issue that nagged him last week, and a knee ailment that has bothered him all season. Rodgers was intent on playing, and believed it proved something.
“That it matters, even when the record isn’t great and you’re not going to the playoffs,” he said. “That I have a lot of pride. I love competing in anything. I don’t want to look back in 20 years and wonder, ‘What if I had played that game? Could something special have happened? What would it look like to my teammates if they knew I kind of quit on them?’ I hope my teammates know I’m never going to quit on them.
“I’m going to battle through anything I’ve got, and they did the same.”
They certainly did, erasing a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit and improving to 2-1 under interim coach Joe Philbin, who replaced the fired Mike McCarthy earlier this month.
“I think it speaks a lot about the character of the guys,” Philbin said. “They never stopped believing that they could get the job done.”
The loss for the Jets (4-11) overshadowed a dazzling performance by rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, who threw for a career-high 341 yards — but never got a chance with the ball in overtime. Darnold was 24 of 35 passing with TDs to Robby Anderson, Chris Herndon and Elijah McGuire, who also ran for a score.
“As an offense, we’ve just got to finish,” Darnold said. “We had a chance to put the game away.”
It was also likely the final home game for coach Todd Bowles, who’s expected to be fired after next week’s game at New England.
The Jets were done in by penalties, getting called for a whopping 16 that cost them 172 yards. Bowles was critical of the officiating crew, saying some of the calls against New York shouldn’t have happened.
“I haven’t seen one like that in my 18, 19 years in the league,” Bowles said. “I thought we were playing two teams: I thought we were playing the Packers and the striped shirts.”
After the Packers won the OT toss and elected to receive, Rodgers took over – as he has so many times throughout his career.
On third-and-10 from the Packers 40, Rodgers got hit as he was throwing and his pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling hung in the air and fell incomplete — but Trumaine Johnson was called for pass interference, putting the ball at the Jets 27. Moments later, a pass interference call on Buster Skrine gave the Packers the ball at the 6.
Rodgers ran it in — but right tackle Bryan Bulaga was called for holding. On the next play, Rodgers found Adams in the back of the end zone for the rare road victory.
“It would have been pretty pathetic if would have gone the entire season without one,” Adams said.
That all came after Rodgers went over a pile and reached past the goal line for a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown with 1:13 left in regulation, giving Green Bay its first lead. Rodgers’ initial 2-point conversion try was intercepted by Darryl — but Roberts was called for defensive holding. Rodgers then ran it in to make it 38-35, finishing off a terrific drive that included a 23-yard run to get the ball to the 1.
Andre Roberts, selected to his first Pro Bowl earlier in the week, returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards to put the Jets in good shape. Darnold completed passes of 9 and 14 yards to get the Jets to the Green Bay 15. But three straight passes fell incomplete and New York settled for a tying 33-yard field goal by Jason Myers with 17 seconds left in regulation.
Lions at Packers
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.
Line: Packers by 6
Records: Lions 5-10, Packers 6-8-1