Green Bay Packers: Andrew Quarless

GREEN BAY, Wis. – JC Tretter's leg whip of Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole cost him $16,537, the largest known fine for a Green Bay Packers player this season.

It happened in the fourth quarter on Sunday, when Tretter finished the game at left tackle after the Packers pulled several starters in the blowout victory.

The NFL announced the fine on Friday.

Tretter said his leg whip was not intentional and planned to appeal the fine. On the play, Tretter's assignment was to cut block on the backside of a pass play to the right. He was penalized on the play.

"I grabbed [Cole] right after the final kneel down to tell him it was totally accidentally," Tretter said Friday. “I didn’t know my leg was even up that high.”

The fine was more than half of Tretter’s weekly salary, which is $29,117.65 before taxes.

The only other Packers players known to have been fined this season were tight end Andrew Quarless ($8,268) for his role in a Week 2 scuffle against the New York Jets, and outside linebacker Julius Peppers (amount unknown) for wearing unauthorized shoes.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers worked out former University of Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum on Tuesday.

"It went well," his agent, Ron Slavin, said after the workout. "They put him on their so-called emergency list."

Beckum, who is living in Milwaukee, also has had workouts with the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars since being released by the New Orleans Saints late in training camp this past summer.

Beckum, 27, has not played in an NFL regular-season game since 2012 with the New York Giants, who drafted him in the third round in 2009. Slavin said Beckum is healthy after tearing his ACL in Super Bowl XLVII and also having a sports hernia a year later.

In 48 career games, Beckum has 26 catches for 264 yards and three touchdowns. His longest career reception, a 67-yarder, came against the Packers on Dec. 4, 2011.

The Packers promoted rookie tight end Justin Perillo from their practice squad on Saturday because they needed a third tight end for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles given Brandon Bostick's hip injury. Without Perillo, they would have been down to only two tight ends -- Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers.

Beckum was one of four players the Packers worked out on Tuesday. The others were: tight end Michael Egnew of Missouri, linebacker Jerrell Harris of Alabama and guard Rishaw Johnson of California (Pa.).

Egnew was a third-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2012. He played 18 games for the Dolphins in 2012 and 2013 combined.

Also on Tuesday, former Packers’ first-round pick Derek Sherrod worked out for the New England Patriots, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. The Packers cut the offensive tackle on Nov. 3.
GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Green Bay Packers' 53-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lambeau Field:

A crazy play: Eddie Lacy figured there was no way he was going to score when he caught a short pass from Aaron Rodgers early in the fourth quarter. But 32 yards later, he was in the end zone, thanks to a spin move, a handful of broken tackles and a goal-line push from teammate Andrew Quarless. "It actually was crazy," Lacy said. "I really didn't know if I was going to score. Q helped me out a lot, he pushed me in at the end. It was a crazy play." When asked about the play, Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga just laughed and said: "Eddie's touchdown -- that's just ridiculous."

Back on top, sort of: The Packers' win, combined with the Detroit Lions' loss at the Arizona Cardinals, left both teams with 7-3 records, the best in the NFC North. "Aren't we a half-game behind?" Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. That's right -- the Packers still aren't on top. At this point, the Lions hold the tiebreaker because of their 19-7 win over the Packers in Week 3 at Ford Field. "Obviously, we've got to take care of what's in front of us with victories against good teams," Matthews said. "But we've got everything we want in front of us now, and we've just got to maximize on that." That includes a Week 17 rematch with the Lions at Lambeau Field, which, at this point, is looking like it might decide the division.

Finding the football: Outside linebacker Mike Neal can't understand how a quarterback could fail to see outside linebacker Julius Peppers dropping into coverage. "I’m like, 'How do you not miss this dude, he's 6-foot-7?'" Neal said. "But he's a blessed dude. Plays fall into his hands, and he takes advantage of them." Sunday marked the second time this season Peppers returned an interception for a touchdown, this one a 52-yarder in the third quarter. He returned one 49 yards for a touchdown on Oct. 2 against the Minnesota Vikings.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coach Mike McCarthy hinted last week this was coming, that the Green Bay Packers' tight ends -- even seldom-used Brandon Bostick -- might have a bigger role in the offense than they did in the first half of the season.

But even with that forewarning, it was still stunning to see quarterback Aaron Rodgers throw the first two of his six touchdown passes in Sunday night's rout of the Chicago Bears to tight ends. Bostick, who had one catch for 2 yards all season, was the recipient of the first, on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Andrew Quarless got the second, on third-down from the 4-yard line.

It was the first time since Week 3 of the 2011 season, when Jermichael Finley had three touchdowns against the Bears, that Packers tight ends have caught more than one touchdown pass in a game. And it was the first time since Week 2 of 2007, when Bubba Franks and Donald Lee had touchdowns against the New York Giants, that two different Packers tight ends have caught touchdowns.

"That was definitely great to see Bostick get his first one this year," said Quarless, who now has three touchdown catches (a career high) this season. "He was really excited. As a tight end group, we were really excited to make an impact."

Bostick's touchdown came out of a three-tight-end formation with Quarless and rookie Richard Rodgers along with fullback John Kuhn and running back Eddie Lacy. McCarthy eschewed conventional thinking, which says to take the field goal early in the game, and went for it on fourth-and-goal.

"I had a good play call," McCarthy said. "I felt like we had the momentum, just the confidence obviously in Aaron and the design of the play."

It was perhaps a watershed moment for Bostick, who had played only 18 snaps on offense -- all of it in garbage time of blowout games -- this season before Sunday night, when he played seven snaps.

"It meant a lot to me," Bostick said. "I've been working all season to get myself a chance and I got in there and made a play, so hopefully I'll get more reps. If not, I'll just keep doing what I've been doing all season."

Midseason report: Green Bay Packers

November, 5, 2014
Nov 5
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The parallels to seasons past are apparent in Green Bay, where a third straight 1-2 start sent Packers' fans into a panic and prompted quarterback Aaron Rodgers to try to ease their concerns with a different five-letter word: R-E-L-A-X.

And then he put together one of the best stretches of his career to help the Packers do what they had done the previous two seasons: lift themselves up after another slow start.

So here they are, halfway through the season with a 5-3 record and a favorable second-half schedule with five of their final eight at home. And they're actually moderately healthy for a change.

All of that again makes them one of the favorites in the NFC.

Yet the overriding issue that has held them back since their Super Bowl XLV victory remains apparent: They have major shortcomings on defense that might again prevent them from a long playoff run.

Midseason MVP: Aaron Rodgers. A case -- even a strong one -- could be made for Jordy Nelson, who is on pace for 100 catches and nearly 1,500 yards, but Rodgers' command of the offense might be better than it has ever been. That was never more evident than in the comeback victory over the Dolphins in Week 6, when he threw the game-winning touchdown pass with three seconds left. Although his yardage total is down from his best seasons, he has 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions -- all three of which bounced off the hands of his intended receiver.

Biggest disappointment: Run defense. Back in May, coach Mike McCarthy promised the Packers' defense would better this year. He said to put it "in big letters." But the run defense has been worse. In fact, the worst. Through eight games, the Packers ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 153.5 yards per game. The loss of nose tackle B.J. Raji to a season-ending torn biceps in August was a blow, given that he was one of the few wide bodies the Packers retained on their defensive line. Their effort to get leaner and more athletic up front has failed them against the run.

Best moment: The fake spike. Not only was it one of the best moments of the season, Rodgers' fake-spike play against the Dolphins might go down as one of his best of all time. With the final seconds ticking away and the Packers in need of a touchdown without a timeout left, everyone at SunLife Stadium expected Rodgers to stop the clock. Instead, he surprised everyone -- everyone except receiver Davante Adams – and fired a quick pass to the rookie, who gained 12 yards and then got out of bounds with six seconds left. That set up the game-winning, 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless with three seconds remaining.

Worst moment: Week 3 in Detroit. It's hard to imagine a game starting much worse. In the Packers' 19-7 loss at Detroit in Week 3, running back Eddie Lacy fumbled on his second carry, and the Lions returned it for a touchdown. It was Lacy's first fumble since Week 1 of the 2013 season. In the second quarter, the Packers went to Lacy on first down from their own 1-yard line, and he got stuffed in the end zone for a safety. The Packers' offense gave up nearly as many points (nine) as their defense (10) in that disheartening loss.

Key to the second half: If the defense can't create takeaways, then the Packers might be staring at another early exit from the playoffs, assuming they get there. It's unrealistic at this point to expect their defense to make significant gains against the run, so they're going to have to rely heavily on winning the turnover battle, which has been the formula for success. But that's a dangerous way to live in the postseason because playoff teams tend to take of the ball better than the middle-to-bottom-tier teams.
NEW ORLEANS -- If you saw Aaron Rodgers walk across the Superdome field with a security guard at his side on the way out of the stadium late Sunday night, you would have never known there was anything wrong with the Green Bay Packers quarterback.

He never broke stride on his way to the team buses.

Some of his teammates didn't even know during the game.

But they will when they see the film.

After Rodgers pulled his hamstring on the opening drive of the third quarter, he and the Packers' offense changed for the worse. Gone was Rodgers' ability to keep plays alive with his feet, to roll out or buy time for receivers to get open -- like he did on his 70-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the first quarter -- and to force the defense to respects his scrambles.

Consider Rodgers' production pre- and post-injury:
  • Before the injury, he was 14-of-19 for 298 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 133.1.
  • After the injury, he was 14-of-20 for 120 yards with two interceptions for a 45.8 passer rating.
When Rodgers felt the twinge in his left leg on a 7-yard scramble for a first down, the game was tied at 16-16. The Packers managed only one score after his injury in a 44-23 loss that sent them into their bye week with a 5-3 record and in second place in the NFC North behind the Detroit Lions (6-2).

The injury forced coach Mike McCarthy to ditch a large chunk of his game plan.

"We kept him in the gun [and] obviously didn't really even get into the play-action game ... and obviously scratched off all of the quarterback movements," McCarthy said. "He was limited."

A year ago, the Packers were 5-2 and feeling good about themselves when Rodgers broke his collarbone and missed the next seven games. They were in the same position Sunday night, and although their fortune wasn't altered for the long term by this injury, they need their quarterback healthy for the stretch run following next week’s bye.

"I didn't even know he had an injury," right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. "That's new to me."

Rodgers did not use his injury as justification for the Packers' second-half ineffectiveness, but he was in the unusual position of explaining two interceptions after his first multi-interception game since Week 3 of last season.

Three plays after Rodgers felt a pull in his hamstring, with the score tied 16-16, he fired a slant for Andrew Quarless on third-and-goal from the 5. The tight end couldn't handle the throw, and the ball bounced into the hands of linebacker David Hawthorne.

"I'd have to watch the film to see what happened, but I feel good about the throw," Rodgers said. New Orleans followed up by taking the lead for good four plays later on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Brandin Cooks.

After the Packers failed on a fourth-and-1 run on their next possession -- running back Eddie Lacy tried going behind fill-in right guard Lane Taylor, who got blown off the line of scrimmage -- the Saints went 40 yards in four plays to take a 30-16 lead. On the Packers' following possession, Rodgers threw his second pick, a ball that went off the hands of rookie receiver Davante Adams. It was one of the few post-injury plays in which Rodgers rolled out. When he threw on the run, it went off Adams' hand and was picked off by cornerback Corey White.

"Had to move to my right because of the pressure," Rodgers said. "Not sure if that made him think he was going to break his route out or whatnot but definitely missed my spot on that one."

From a pure passing yardage standpoint, it was one of Rodgers' best showings with 418 yards (the second-highest total of his career). But his mobility is one of his biggest assets, and with that largely removed from his repertoire, the Packers' offense could not keep with Brees and the Saints.

"Well if I felt it, then I had to back off a little bit," Rodgers said. "We had to do a little more in the shotgun, but it wasn't a big deal ultimately."
NEW ORLEANS -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Green Bay Packers' 44-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night at the Superdome:
  • Williams
    No defense, big problem: Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn't especially proud of his team's defensive effort, but he didn't think the Saints played much either. The two teams combined for 986 yards and for the second time this season, the Packers were involved in a game without a punt. Before this season, that had occurred only once in NFL history. "I don't think they slowed us down at all defensively," McCarthy said. "We dropped the ball [by Andrew Quarless] that was an interception, we had a route that stopped [by Davante Adams] that turned into an interception. I don't think there was a whole lot of defense that was played here tonight, clearly by not our team."
  • Williams peeved: Packers cornerback Tramon Williams clearly thought Saints tight end Jimmy Graham should have been called for pass interference on his 22-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. "Oh my god, let's not even talk about that," Williams said. "It's ridiculous. It's crazy."
  • Lang's prognosis: Right guard T.J. Lang left the locker room with a boot on his left foot. He left the game after the first series with an ankle injury. McCarthy said he did not know the severity of the injury. "I'm told it's an ankle sprain," McCarthy said.
Since the Green Bay Packers' seven-point output in their Week 3 loss at Detroit, they have scored 38, 42 and 27 points in their last three games – all victories. They face a Carolina Panthers team that has allowed 37, 38, 24 and 37 points in the last four games. That would not seem like a good recipe for slowing down Aaron Rodgers and the offense, which has gotten more diverse with the emergence of rookie receiver Davante Adams and some contributions from tight end Andrew Quarless.

But the Packers defense has to do its part, too. It has relied on takeaways, including eight interceptions in the last four games, to cover up for its other shortcomings. Defending the read-option better than last week, when Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill used it to rattle off a 40-yard run and convert another first down, is a must against Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Prediction: Packers 35, Panthers 24
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A simple game of catch, one of those things that fathers and sons do. And on Sunday morning, that's what Richard Rodgers wants to do with his dad at Lambeau Field.

Those moments were scarce when Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers' rookie tight end, was a kid. His father, Richard Sr., was usually busy coaching, and he was busy playing.

[+] EnlargeRichard Rodgers
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsPackers rookie tight end Richard Rodgers will be playing catch Sunday with his dad, the Panthers' special teams coordinator.
And when they were together, it was usually in the father's office at San Jose State or Portland State or New Mexico State or Holy Cross -- all places his father served as an assistant coach before he joined Ron Rivera’s coaching staff with the Carolina Panthers in 2012 -- because his father was busy watching film.

But he was happy to hang around football.

However, on Sunday, the younger Rodgers, wearing his No. 89 Packers jersey, will be on the same field with his father, the Panthers' special teams coordinator, and they will have that game of catch.

"I'm looking forward to it," the younger Rodgers said Thursday. "It's always been either him coaching or me getting to be on the sideline before every game but I had to go to the stands because I was too young to be on the sideline or anything like that. It's going to be cool to be on the field actually with him actually this time.

"We'd play catch before when he was coaching. In Oregon, at Portland State, I had to hold his [headset] cord on the sideline – you know how they have people that hold the cord – I had to do that for a couple games. It was fun to be out there with him."

The Packers drafted Rodgers in May in the third round out of California, the same school where his father played defensive back from 1980-83. Draft day was a special moment for his father even if he couldn't be with him to witness it because of his duties in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"It's funny when Green Bay picked him, Richard had stepped out of the draft room," Rivera said. "So he had no idea. We were trying to get him back in so he could see the announcement on TV. He came in just as they announced the name. It was kind of neat to see that."

Rodgers said he and his father haven't avoided each other this week like some familiar competitors do before they're facing off but that those conversations were mostly about which family members were coming to the game.

"I talked to him yesterday," the younger Rodgers said. "We keep in touch every week like we always do."

It's been a bit of a rocky start to his NFL career, with the younger Rodgers losing his starting job last week to Andrew Quarless. Noted for his receiving skills coming out of Cal, he has only two catches for 52 yards (both came in the Week 4 game against the Chicago Bears).

But on Sunday, no matter what, he's guaranteed to have an important catch.

"It's going to be pretty awesome, just to play catch with him," Rodgers said. "I think he's just as excited as I am. I think it's going to be a good experience."

ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton contributed from Charlotte.
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Yes, Andrew Quarless caught the game-winning touchdown pass with three seconds left in Sunday's game at Miami.

But no, that doesn't necessarily mean the fifth-year tight end is all of a sudden going to have a larger role on offense.

However, he might have at least got the attention of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy.

"I hope so. I hope so," Quarless said. "The future will tell, but it starts in practice. The more and more I split out and am moving around the field, it's only going to help, and hopefully we can build upon it."

Forgotten by many in the euphoria over Quarless' heroics was the fact that he only caught two passes on Sunday for 11 yards. He also had only two catches (for 19 yards) in the game before that against Minnesota. And the game before that? He didn't catch a single pass or even have one thrown his way.

At least you can say this: Quarless has officially taken over the starting tight end job from rookie Richard Rodgers. For the first time this season, Quarless was listed as the starter on the team's weekly depth chart.

Quarless had been in Aaron Rodgers' ear most of Sunday’s game, letting him know that he can beat the defender when it's a linebacker assigned to cover him. On the game-winning play, Rodgers saw the same matchup, changed the call and went right to Quarless.

"It's plays like that that you feel really good about the connection you have with the receiver when you can make that eye contact and be on the same page," Rodgers said Tuesday on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show. "I'm proud of Q. He's a guy who's made some big plays over the years and hopefully this is the start of getting him some more opportunities."

Through six games, Quarless has given the Packers about the only production in the passing game they have received from the tight end position. He has been targeted 18 times and has 12 catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Richard Rodgers, a third-round pick, has the only other catches by a Packers tight end this season, two of them for 53 yards (both at Chicago in Week 4).

In case you missed it from Best of the rest:
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If you were among those thinking that the Packers should have sent Randall Cobb back to receive the punt late in Sunday's game at Miami, then you underestimated how special teams coach Shawn Slocum feels about Micah Hyde.

While Cobb has more special teams touchdowns -- three in his career to Hyde's one -- Slocum knew what he was doing when employed Hyde with 2:15 left in the game.

"I think he makes good decisions," Slocum said. "He's very courageous. He's a very good catcher of the ball. He responds well. He reacts to the kick and responds well."

Slocum called an all-out rush to try to block the kick, which left Hyde without as much blocking as usual. The punt came off low, and Hyde had to move up and to his left to field it at the 23. Had he decided to let it bounce, there's no telling what might have happened.

"That could've started us backed up inside the 20, at least," Slocum said.

Instead, Hyde raced up the left side and returned it 17 yards -- the Packers' second-longest punt return of the season -- to give Aaron Rodgers the ball at the 40-yard line and a shorter field to work with on the game-winning drive.

"That was one of the big, big plays in the game," said coach Mike McCarthy, who awarded Hyde a game ball.

And it perhaps made up for an otherwise poor showing by the special teams units, which allowed a blocked punt (because of a blown blocking assignment by Jamari Lattimore) and a 54-yard kickoff return when Kevin Dorsey (playing in his first NFL game) blew contain.

In case you missed it from Best of the rest:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The fake spike got all the attention, but it would have been nothing more than a footnote in Aaron Rodgers' career rather a highly celebrated moment if not for Andrew Quarless.

For it was Quarless, the Green Bay Packers tight end, who validated Rodgers' decision to forgo stopping the clock and instead surprise most everyone with his quick pass to Davante Adams on his penultimate snap of Sunday's 27-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Even after Rodgers and Adams pulled off a 12-yard gain, there was work to be done. The Packers faced first-and-goal at the 4-yard line with six seconds left. Rodgers had time for one, maybe two snaps. And that's where Quarless came in.

"We got out there, and they were in man coverage with [a linebacker] out on Q," Rodgers said, referring to Miami's Philip Wheeler. "And Q had been kind of in my ear most of the day about throwing him the ball when we had that matchup."

And Quarless knew it was coming.

"Once I got the signal," Quarless said, "in my head I was jumping around already."

Three seconds later, it was a touchdown.

Quarless called the moment "epic for me."

"I believe this is probably my first game-winning touchdown of my career," Quarless said. "So that's definitely a blessing. It just shows the hard work is paying off."

Quarless is not the playmaking tight end the Packers had in Jermichael Finley and probably never will be, but after being somewhat forgotten this summer -- when rookie Richard Rodgers was busy winning the starting job and Brandon Bostick was looking like Finley-lite -- it has become clear that the fifth-year veteran is their best tight-end option. That's because Richard Rodgers has not been able to carry over his play from this summer and worse yet, he has become an untrustworthy blocker. And Bostick can't even do enough in practice to convince the coaches to give him any playing time.

"I'm thankful [Aaron Rodgers] came to me with it," said Quarless, who had only one other catch (for 4 yards) on Sunday. "It just shows how we're building. I'm happy. I'm proud about that."
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Green Bay Packers' offensive line had no idea the fake spike was coming.

Right guard T.J. Lang heard Aaron Rodgers yelling "clock, clock," indicating he planned to spike the ball. Center Corey Linsley heard Rodgers make a protection call, which told him to be ready in case a play was on.

As Rodgers came to the line of scrimmage with the Sun Life Stadium clock running down in Sunday's 27-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins – 15 seconds, 14 seconds, 13 seconds – he raised his right hand and made a fist just before he ducked in under center.

Perhaps that was the signal to receiver Davante Adams.

"Don't be giving away our secrets now," Packers wideout Randall Cobb warned Adams as he was asked about the play.

Whatever the signal was, Adams knew what was coming next. Rodgers took the snap with 12 seconds left, hunched over like he was going to slam the ball into the turf to stop the clock and then dropped back five steps and fired the ball to Adams in the right flat.

Jordy Nelson, who was lined up as the slot receiver on the same side of the field, never even came out of his stance.

"I didn't [know]," Nelson said.

The key was this: Rodgers saw Dolphins cornerback Cortland Finnegan playing well off Adams – at least 10 yards back – as he came to the line of scrimmage.

"It's one of those things that you don't really tell anybody what's going on," Rodgers said. "You're just yelling 'clock' and signaling 'clock' and then right before I snapped it, I looked out to the right and they were way off outside, so I just kind of faked it and moved."

Dolphins fans had seen this before. Their own Dan Marino executed the fake-spike play to beat the New York Jets on Nov. 27, 1994.

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesAs the clock ticked on the final drive, Aaron Rodgers kept his fake spike play a secret from just about everybody.
Rodgers' masterful decision would have been negated if the rookie Adams didn't have the savvy beyond his years to get out of bounds once he realized he would not reach the end zone. Without a timeout left, anything short of the end zone or the sideline would have ended the game and fueled the cockamamie criticism of Rodgers for his lack of comeback victories.

Adams, who had six catches for 77 yards, caught the ball at the Dolphins' 14-yard line and trucked down the right sideline, where Finnegan and cornerback Jamar Taylor shoved him out of bounds at the 4-yard line with six seconds remaining.

At that point, Rodgers -- whose record improved to 5-13 in games decided by three points or fewer and 7-25 in games in which he has trailed by eight points or fewer in the fourth quarter, according to Football Outsiders -- needed to finish it off.

He might have had enough time to get two chances at the game winner, but when he saw linebacker Philip Wheeler on Andrew Quarless -- a mismatch in his mind -- he changed the call at the line of scrimmage and fired to his tight end in the right corner of the end zone with 3 seconds left, and a drive that started at the Packers' 40-yard line with 2:05 left was completed.

So was the comeback.

"I just told A-Rod just now, 'That was epic for me,'" Quarless said. "He said that was fun for him, too."

As Quarless reached for the sky with the ball in his right hand to celebrate his touchdown, Rodgers ended up on his back. He stayed there for a second or two, pointing in the air as Lang came over to him. The celebration continued on the sideline, where Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy embraced.

There were other factors critical to the final drive – Lang's third-down fumble recovery that set up a fourth-down conversion to Nelson among them – but the fake spike will be the one to remember. It led to Rodgers' second go-ahead touchdown pass in the final minute of a regular-season game; the first came in Week 17 last year to Cobb to beat the Chicago Bears.

"That's how you want it," said Rodgers, who threw three touchdown passes. "You want the opportunity to make a play at the end."
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Green Bay Packers' 27-24 victory Sunday over the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium:

Nothing torn: Cornerback Sam Shields limped out of the Packers' locker room in pain but was relieved that the initial diagnosis on his left knee is that nothing was torn. The weird thing about Shields' injury was how it happened. He was lining up in coverage when he went down before the first snap of the Dolphins' final drive of the third quarter. "It just gave out," Shields said. "I felt like a little pinch. They say nothing's torn, but it hurts." Two plays later, the Packers lost their other starting cornerback, Tramon Williams, to an ankle injury. So the Packers finished the game with Casey Hayward and Davon House as their top two cornerbacks and Jarrett Bush as their nickelback. Coach Mike McCarthy had no updates on their injuries or the neck injury that Jamari Lattimore sustained in the first half. Shields was expected to undergo more tests Monday.

Lang's big save: Right guard T.J. Lang's eyes opened wide when he was asked what he saw when quarterback Aaron Rodgers fumbled on the Packers' final drive. That's probably what his eyes looked like when he saw the ball on the ground. Packers president Mark Murphy came by Lang's locker and told him it was "the play of the game." It's a drill the Packers' offensive linemen used to do in practice all the time until JC Tretter broke his ankle while doing it last season in organized team activities. They have since curtailed it.

Fake spike: When Rodgers saw former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino on the field at halftime, he surely had no idea he was going to replicate one of Marino's most famous plays. But that's what Rodgers did when he pulled off the fake-spike play, just like Marino did for the Dolphins in a 1994 playoff game against the New York Jets. Rodgers faked the spike and hit receiver Davante Adams for a 12-yard gain to set up the game-winning, 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless. "That was kind of some freestyling right there," Rodgers said.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Once a core special teams player, backup tight end Ryan Taylor was released by the Green Bay Packers on Monday.

The fourth-year pro was credited with just one special teams tackle in five games this season. During that stretch, he played on 42 percent of the Packers' special teams plays, a significant drop from 65.6 percent in 2013, when he finished fifth on the team with eight special teams tackles.

"I think overall we've improved as a roster," special teams coach Shawn Slocum said Monday when asked about Taylor's declining production on special teams. "I think we've got a number of guys that can play well. Ryan did a great job for us and played extremely hard and is a darned good player."

A seventh-round pick out of North Carolina in 2011, Taylor never had much of a role in the passing game. His lone career touchdown catch came in his rookie season. He played just 10 snaps on offense this season, and eight were running plays, according to

"It's unfortunate that that's part of the game," Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. "Ryan did a lot of great things for us and wish him well, and it's unfortunate."

The Packers did not immediately replace Taylor on the roster. General manager Ted Thompson often fills open roster spots from the practice squad, but rookie tight end Justin Perillo, who has been on the practice squad all season, said Monday he has not been informed of any impending promotion.

The Packers have three other tight ends on the roster: Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers and Brandon Bostick.