Reflecting on the 8 Defining Moments of the Packers' 2013 Regular Season

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIDecember 31, 2013

Reflecting on the 8 Defining Moments of the Packers' 2013 Regular Season

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    Aaron Rodgers had plenty of defining moments in 2013.
    Aaron Rodgers had plenty of defining moments in 2013.David Banks/Getty Images

    The Green Bay Packers' 2013 regular season was filled with defining moments.

    In fact, it was such an exciting season that it came down to the final minute of the final game before anything was ultimately decided. There were fumbles and injuries and incredible comebacks that we were able to enjoy for the past 17 weeks.

    Let's take some time to reflect on the eight most defining moments of the Packers' 2013 regular season.

Johnathan Franklin's Fumble in Week 3

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    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    Back in Week 3, the Green Bay Packers got production from the most unlikely of sources. With starting running back Eddie Lacy out with a concussion and his backup out with an ankle injury, the Packers were forced to trust their ground game to another rookie in Johnathan Franklin. 

    Franklin was actually having himself a rather solid game while building a big lead in the third quarter for the Packers. He'd finish the game with a total of 103 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries.

    Unfortunately, for all the good that Franklin did in this game, his lone poor play is all that's remembered. With just under four minutes remaining and Green Bay up by three points, Franklin took a handoff, rushed up the middle and fumbled the football.

    That fumble was ultimately returned by Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Terence Newman for the touchdown that would turn out to be the game-winner. This play was the one that ultimately put Franklin on the bench for good.

    He only had six more carries and and four more yards in the next three games he played in. While Franklin certainly still has potential to become a contributor to the Packers offense, his 2013 season will only be remembered for this major fumble.

Packers Demolish Browns in Week 7

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    The Green Bay Packers' 31-13 thrashing of the Cleveland Browns in Week 7 might seem like a rather insignificant victory in the Packers' season. However, it's actually the exact opposite.

    This week showed exactly what Green Bay was capable of as a team on both sides of the ball. The offense was dominant throughout the game with quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing for 260 yards and three touchdowns.

    However, it was the stifling defense that held wide receiver Josh Gordon to only two receptions and 21 yards that was ultimately so impressive. Sure, the Browns weren't a powerhouse of a team, but they were more competitive than a lot of people will give them credit for.

    The Packers handled their business in this game and showed just how great of a team they could truly be.

Aaron Rodgers Gets Injured

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    All it took was one hit for every single heart of every single fan of the Green Bay Packers to shatter.

    On the first offensive drive against the Chicago Bears, Rodgers rolled out and took a hit from defensive end Shea McClellin. While the hit didn't look too intense, it did drive Rodgers' non-throwing shoulder hard into the ground.

    Rodgers would come out of the game and backup quarterback Seneca Wallace would replace him. It wasn't until late in the game that Rodgers returned in street clothes and stood on the sidelines. 

    It was ultimately reported that Rodgers had fractured his shoulder on that hit and would miss significant time. 

    Once this news broke, there were enough tears falling from the eyes of Packers fans to fill Lake Superior.

Green Bay Comes from Behind to Beat the Falcons

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    After quarterback Aaron Rodgers got injured, the Green Bay Packers went 0-4-1 in the next five weeks, including the Chicago Bears game that he was hurt in.

    Things were especially looking bad for the Packers' playoff hopes. In fact, they entered their Week 14 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons with only an 11 percent chance at making the playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

    And with the Packers down 21-10 heading into the second half, things certainly weren't looking better. However, Green Bay was able to somehow turn things around.

    The defense shut out Atlanta in the second half and backup quarterback Matt Flynn led the Packers on three second-half scoring drives and 12 points. This win was the start of a roller coaster ending to the regular season for Green Bay.

5 Second-Half Touchdowns from Matt Flynn

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Until Week 17, the Green Bay Packers' come-from-behind victory over the Dallas Cowboys was the defining moment of the season.

    Heading into the second half of this game, the Packers were down 26-3 in Dallas. The second half started with a four-play, 80-yard drive for the Packers that ended with a touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Flynn to wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

    Green Bay would go on to score four more touchdowns in the second half, including the game-winning touchdown from running back Eddie Lacy with less than two minutes remaining. An interception by cornerback Tramon Williams would ultimately seal the win for the Packers.

    It was after this game that hope was truly restored in the Packers' season.

Eddie Lacy Becomes Rookie Rushing Leader in Packers History

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    It's been years since the Green Bay Packers have had anything resembling a ground game to brag about. While many expected it to improve by drafting running back Eddie Lacy in the second round, no one could have predicted the type of impact that Lacy would have on this offense.

    Lacy only needed 78 yards in the final two games of the season to have the most rushing yards by a rookie in the history of the franchise. It happened in Week 16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers when Lacy finished the game with 84 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

    The rookie running back would go on to finish his rookie season with a total of 1,178 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. He established himself as one of the premier young backs in the league and made the Packers offense even more dangerous than it already was.

Aaron Rodgers Returns

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    It really couldn't have been any more perfect. 

    Quarterback Aaron Rodgers gets hurt against the Chicago Bears in Week 9, the Green Bay Packers do barely enough to stay alive in the playoff race for Rodgers to return in Week 17 against the same Bears team that injured him.

    We'll get to more from the outcome of that game against Chicago in just a moment, but when Rodgers walked onto Soldier Field ready to play, it was possibly the most defining moment of the Packers' season.

The Bomb to Randall Cobb

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    Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor

    Nothing was more beautiful than the game-winning touchdown pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to wide receiver Randall Cobb. In fact, a fairy tale couldn't have made this play any more perfect.

    With the Packers down a single point and less than a minute on the clock, Rodgers takes the snap. The Chicago Bears look like they have Rodgers sacked until fullback John Kuhn gets just enough of defensive end Julius Peppers to allow Rodgers to roll to his left.

    Then Rodgers sets his feet and throws an absolute bomb down the field. And for the whole time that ball is in the air, which seemed like forever, no one knows what is going to happen.

    Then Cobb appears wide open, catches the ball and runs it in for the game-winning touchdown.

    While the entire final drive was certainly incredible, it was this one play that ultimately defined the regular season for Green Bay.