Yet after he lost the 64-yard sprint to Seahawks defensive lineman Nazair Jones, who to be sure had a running start after he picked off a short pass in the first quarter of Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field, Rodgers got a good chuckle out of it.
That’s because although the interception stood (and ended Rodgers’ career-long regular-season streak of 251 passes without one), it turned out not to be a pick-six (which would have been only the second of his NFL career) because of a penalty, and then the Packers' defense came up with a stop that forced a punt.
“I was just glad it wasn’t a pick-six,” Rodgers said. “I think I’ve got a pretty good streak going right now. And it would have been rough to give up a pick-six to a lineman who outran me over a 60-yard path, especially since I feel like I’ve been working on my conditioning and my running. Thankfully, there was, I guess, a punch thrown. I don’t know if they called a block in the back on me.”
There were indeed two penalties on the Seahawks during Jones’ return. The officials got cornerback Jeremy Lane for allegedly throwing a punch that got him ejected and defensive end Cliff Avril for an illegal block in the back against Rodgers.
So even though Rodgers couldn’t chase down Jones, his effort to do so led to Avril’s infraction.
It wasn’t the first time Rodgers has tried to prevent one of his interceptions from being returned for a touchdown. The most memorable instance came in the 2010 NFC Championship Game, when Rodgers threw a red zone interception right to Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. Rodgers chased him down and tripped him up near midfield, and it saved the Packers points.
Rodgers’ only career interception that’s been returned for a touchdown came in 2009 at Tampa Bay on a pass that ricocheted off Donald Driver’s hands.
“It’s kind of rare,” Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “It’s just one of those situations where, I think he’s just being a competitor and he’s just reacting. I think he’s a football player first and I think he’s reacting to what he sees. That’s kind of how I look at it. Obviously you’ve got to be smart about the situation. We don’t want to put ourselves in a position where they get a pick-six and then we all know the implications of that. So I think that’s really what it boils down to, he’s being a competitor reacting to what’s taking place.”