Andrew Quarless on Game-Winning Touchdown: "That Was Epic for Me"

The Packers tight-end recalls the touchdown catch that put the Packers up 27-24 with just three seconds remaining.

Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless by Brad Barr—USA TODAY Sports.

Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless by Brad Barr—USA TODAY Sports.

Down 24-20 with six seconds left in the football game, a field goal doing them no good, Aaron Rodgers scanned the line of scrimmage and saw a linebacker lining up across from Andrew Quarless.

Rodgers flashed a signal to his tight end. Audible. The ball was coming Quarless' way.

"In my head, I was jumping around already," said Quarless.

All day long, Quarless was in Rodgers' ear. He knew if he didn't have a defensive back guarding him, he could take advantage of a slower player in coverage.

According to Quarless, he was open all game long.

Lining up on the four-yard line, head coach Mike McCarthy was hopeful the Packers would be able to get off two plays, just in case the first was incomplete.

"Ideally, but let's be real," said McCarthy. "The defense has a little bit to say about that. We had actually had a similar set earlier in the game where they doubled our slots. That's what we were anticipating, and Aaron made the adjustment to Andrew Quarless."

Following the fake spike and throw to rookie wide receiver Davante Adams to set up the Packers' final snap of the game, the original playcall in the huddle was different.

But when Rogers saw Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins stepping out to cover Quarless out on the perimeter, he recognized an opportunity just begging to be exploited.

"We're going to adjust accordingly to how teams are playing us," said Rodgers. "We had actually an out-breaking and an in-breaking route—the outside guy run in-breaking, the inside guy run out-breaking.

"We got out there and they were in a man coverage with 53 out on 'Q.' And 'Q' had been in my ear most of the day about throwing him the ball when he had that match-up, so I threw him the ball. He's had a catch like that late in the game to win a game before. He ran a good route, and we put it in the right spot."

The audible, the route, the throw, it all came down to practice and it didn't exactly happen on a whim.

Trust placed in Quarless from Rodgers was something built day after day, week after week, month after month and even year after year in practice: hundreds of repetitions to know exactly what to do when the opportunity presented itself.

"They gave me a 'go' route, but when the 'go' route's in the end zone we kind of teach 'look for the back shoulder,'" said Quarless. "After I took my three steps, I looked for the back shoulder and the throw was right there. Just make sure I catch it."

Quarless described how he's been in the huddle with Rodgers for five years. They've been in pressure situations before, including Super Bowl XLV. They knew better than to panic.

But the catch Quarless made on Sunday may have been the biggest he's ever made.

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, Quarless spent much of his first four seasons in the NFL playing second fiddle to Jermichael Finley.

Even early in the 2014 season, it took Quarless until the month of October to overtake rookie tight end Richard Rodgers for the starting job. Only in the last two weeks has Quarless been inserted into the starting lineup.

"I just told A-Rod right now, 'That was epic for me,' said Quarles. "But he said that was fun for him too. I believe this was probably my first game-winning touchdown of my career, so it's definitely a blessing."

 

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Comments (6)

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AndrewInAtlanta's picture

October 13, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Does it bother anyone else when players describe what the team was thinking and doing after the fact? #85 used to do that with the media when he was here and it made me nuts. Didn't these guys ever see The Godfather?? "Never tell anyone outside the family what you are thinking!"

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DrealynWilliams's picture

October 13, 2014 at 01:08 pm

I would assume that signs and such change from week to week. Also, teams throw out dummy signs and whatnot.

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AndrewInAtlanta's picture

October 13, 2014 at 06:49 pm

So it doesn't bother you when Quarless says we look for the back shoulder throw on go routes in the end zone? Maybe it's not a big deal. I don't know. I would just rather he said nothing regarding play calls and what we might do in particular situations

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Mojo's picture

October 13, 2014 at 03:45 pm

Great for Quarless to get the GWTD, especially with all he went through with the injury a few years back.

He may have been open recently, but one thing he needs to do is learn to screen off defenders and come back to the ball when needed. He might see more targets then.

I want to get off topic here and discuss the criticism the o-line is getting. Granted it wasn't their best game, but it didn't help the Fin's were correctly anticipating the snap count time and again. They knew many of Rodgers cadences and even his leg movements pre-snap. Plus the play clock was winding down a lot. When a d-lineman jumps the count it makes it difficult for a o-lineman to get in their stance quick enough.

Lacy, except for last week hasn't been running that well this year. He keeps running full steam into piles, missing the cut-back lanes and then moving laterally to get away, which is not his strength. Starks, for the most part is doing what Lacy should do, that is plant and go. He's been successful so far. Don't know why the Pack haven't used their best cut-back runner Harris at all this year. He's legit. It's not just the o-line getting beat in the run blocking, it's the RB's(or more accurately Lacy, making poor decisions.)

And as great as Rodgers is, he doesn't help the o-line by holding the ball so long. Other teams know this and pin their ears back and rush full bore. Even more stress for the line( and how come they don't get credit when the keep a play alive by blocking for more than 5 seconds).

I was with a large group yesterday watching the game and because so couldn't hear the broadcast. It looked like they often highlighted open Packer receivers who did not get targeted. I always hear Rodgers say he'll throw to the open receiver, but how open do they have to be? Is he missing opportunities? Can't usually tell because the receivers tree routes are often off the screen. Point of this is, I believe Rodgers is his own worst enemy at times by holding the ball so long. Once again the D knows this and will become more aggressive rushing the passer. Strange I'm sounding critical of Rodgers considering they amazing game he played yesterday. This is more of long-trend critique.

I'd like to see Rodger throw over the top more, like he did on one of his best plays of the game - the opening drive 28 yarder to Cobb. Beautiful timing and touch pass to someone who wasn't wide open.

Point of all this the o-line, IMO, looks worse than it is because of the way Lacy has, for the most part, been running this year and ARod's penchant for extending plays. Plus Miami strength is it's d-line. The Packers o-line isn't as bad as it seems.

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Amanofthenorth's picture

October 13, 2014 at 07:04 pm

More three step drops and fire...like the TD this fan would like to see.

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4thand1's picture

October 13, 2014 at 07:42 pm

I think Rodgers is so hell bent on not throwing ints, he doesn't squeeze some passes in there that he can. He can't stand the thought of throwing a pick. Hold on to the ball and live for another play. Favre was just the opposite. He would have thrown even more ints, but the defenders couldn't catch a lot of his bullets.

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