Winning the Close Games: Does Aaron Rodgers Have "It?"

Paul RosikContributor IIIOctober 25, 2010


I don’t know what reporter or sports service first came up with the statistic, but we have been seeing it reported all week now how Aaron Rodgers was 1 -11 in so called “close games.” These “close games” being described as games won by 4 points or less. Well after this game he is now 2 - 11 in this weird statistic. Does this stat show that for all his great passing ability, Rodgers is not a clutch performer able to pull out a game at the end or is it another meaningless football statistic that does not take the full game into account?

The first question is does this statistic even matter in the first place? Football is full of meaningless statistics. Time of possession can be a great example. One team can run and run and move the ball but end up never scoring any points, while the other team may throw bomb after bomb and score in a few seconds. There are some times when T.O.P. may tell you something meaningful about a game, but usually it has little to do with what is happening on the field.

The same can be true for “close victories”. To give the quarterback all the credit or blame for close wins or losses is unfair to the quarterback and the team. Aaron Rodgers has had two close victories this season and both were completed by defensive stands at the end of the game. Tonight Rodgers had some good stats but also threw some Favre-like interceptions and looked totally out of sync with his receivers on many instances, but the defense scored a touchdown and made the stand at the end of the game and won him his close victory. A team can be behind by 10 points and score a touchdown on the last play of the game to make the final score a three point win and now the quarterback would get credit for a close win. Conversely, the team can be holding onto to a one point lead and then the defense makes a great play and intercepts the ball for a touchdown and now they win by eight points and it's no longer a close win.

In Rodgers' case if you look at the games he has lost that are close on the final play you see a team that made 18 penalties and a fumble as time was winding down to give up the losing points. You saw a field goal clank off the uprights on the last play of regulation after Rodgers drove them into position in a minutes time. Do these losses say something about Rodgers and his play in those games, or is it more a team statistic? Many of the other close losses happened in Rodgers first season as a starter when the Packers were a poor team. In several games Rodgers scored the points to take the lead but left too much time on the clock and the defense gave up late scores. (I can still have nightmares of Carolina throwing a 30-yard pass to midfield and then a 50 yard bomb to score in two plays after Rodgers had gotten them the lead.) During that season the defense was completely terrible in late game situations. During that season Rodgers did throw a late touchdown to beat the Bears, but since the score was tied before he scored that touchdown this was not a close victory.

Aaron Rodgers has shown himself to be a dangerous weapon. He can make amazing throws look routine. But he has yet to have a defining moment. He has not had his remarkable throw in the last second to steal a win that his team probably should have lost. Does this show that he is not a clutch performer in those instances, or does it show that his team has not been a top team that gets those sort of wins?

And now a totally unrelated question. With this loss does it now mean that Favre has lost to every team in the league or is there some team that he has not played a lot that he has still never lost to?