MIAMI—Joe Philbin put the game in the hands of his defense, which meant he was putting it in the hands of Aaron Rodgers. The outcome was predictable.
Rodgers rallied the Packers with a final-drive touchdown pass with three seconds left on the clock, to beat the heat and the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, 27-24.
Philbin, the Dolphins head coach and former Packers offensive coordinator, made a decision on third-and-9 with 2:15 to play in the game, to play it safe, run the ball, punt and put the outcome of the game in the hands of his defense. Rodgers' made the decision regrettable.
"The check to the run by James (Starks) was outstanding. The plays Aaron made and the adjustments were really something," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said, marveling at the man on whom the Packers are built. "Aaron Rodgers is a remarkable player. Extending plays in this heat, extending plays to pass," McCarthy added, shaking his head.
It was Rodgers at his best. He brought the Packers back from down 24-17 to score 10 points on the Packers' final two drives.
McCarthy opted for a short field goal on fourth-and-six in the next-to-last drive.
"I had confidence in our defense. I'm glad we scored on that two-minute drive," he said, expressing relief.
"Any time you overcome adversity, you have this experience to build off. That's why you play. This is an excellent character win," McCarthy added.
It's a win that keeps the 4-2 Packers in a tie with Detroit for the NFC North lead. It's also the Packers' third consecutive win, which sends the Packers back to Green Bay a hot team on a hot day in Miami.
One of the keys to the Packers' win is an overwhelming time of possession advantage of nearly 15 minutes. On a hot day, it helped keep the Packers defense fresh for the final, deciding minutes of the game.
"They looked like they were challenged by it, too," McCarthy said of the Dolphins. "We knew this would be a tough game coming down in the heat. We said we weren't worried about it and we weren't worried about it, but the fact is we're from Wisconsin."
The Packers turned hard to the running game in the second half, and it was Starks that led the way. Starks was strong in the final two drives, rushing for 29 yards.
"I wanted to get into a little more ball control. We accomplished it," McCarthy said.
Rodgers executed a fake-spike kind of play that was reminiscent of former Miami quarterback Dan Marino; "I did see him on the sidelines there," Rodgers said. Instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock, Rodgers threw short to Davante Adams, who broke a tackle and gained 12 yards to the Miami 4-yard line. From there, Rodgers pitched the game-winner to Andrew Quarless.
"Right before it was snapped, I looked to the right and they were way off. I hoped (Adams) would get a couple and get out of bounds. He almost scored," Rodgers said.
"The last two series signify what we're all about, the grit. The route to Andrew was the right route," McCarthy said.
"We had outbreaking and inbreaking routes. (Quarless) had kind of been in my ear all day about throwing him the ball. So I threw him the ball," Rodgers said.
The rest is committed to lore.
ADDITIONAL PACKERS-DOLPHINS COVERAGE - OCT. 12