AL HAMNIK: 'Rocky' reluctantly takes the count

2013-12-29T19:30:00Z 2014-01-01T21:25:06Z AL HAMNIK: 'Rocky' reluctantly takes the countAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
December 29, 2013 7:30 pm  • 

CHICAGO | A nation watched "Rocky," the football movie, Sunday at Soldier Field.

Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, the NFL's top quarterback and everyone's champion with a mile-long list of impressive credits, played the role of Apollo Creed.

Jay Cutler, a disrespected and unproven challenger from Chicago, was Rocky hoping an NFC North title would open the door for even larger purses.

All week, media swarmed both fighters' camps, watching them train and prepare, comparing their game with a tale of the tape that heavily favored the hard-punching Rodgers.

Cutler, still lacking a knockout punch, had spent much of his career horizontal, not vertical.

All bets were on Rodgers, and rightfully so.

But though the underdog lost, 33-28, he had earned himself a standing ovation.

Cutler was exceptional in defeat, completing 15 of 24 passes for 226 yards, two touchdowns, one pick and a QB rating of 103.8.

Rodgers won this one on savvy, personal experience in clutch situations, and with help from seven very talented receivers led by Jordy Nelson's 10 catches for 161 yards.

Can't forget rookie running back Eddie Lacy and his 88 yards, plus a TD.

Rodgers threw for 318 yards, with two of his first 12 passes picked off, and had a pair of TDs.

"We believe he's the best quarterback in the league," Nelson said. "To be gone seven weeks, come back and play the way he did, was great."

Rodgers is now 9-3 against the Bears, Cutler 1-9 versus the Pack in his career. But he didn't lose this game.

The Bears' defense fell asleep more than once — and three times on the Packers' winning drive in the final period — and couldn't shut the door on fourth down. Three times!

Rodgers' game-winning throw to Randall Cobb came on a very painful fourth-and-8.

"That's a tough one to swallow. We were right there knocking on the door," Cutler said.

"We lost as a team. If we had made some plays early on, we would've won as a team."

On this freezing Sunday, "Rocky" took the count, reluctantly. But that title shot isn't as far off as many of you might think.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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