By Eric Goska
Brett Hundley answered the call.
This could have been a trap game for the visiting Packers.
Cleveland, 0-12 at the start of the afternoon, had nothing to lose and everything to gain by derailing Green Bay.
For the better part of 60 minutes, the Browns appeared ready to pull off the upset. Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer tossed three touchdown passes and running back Isaiah Crowell pounded out 103 yards rushing on 13 carries as Cleveland built a 21-7 lead after three quarters.
But even that two-touchdown advantage was no guarantee of victory for
Cleveland. The fourth quarter remained, and somewhere along the line, Green Bay decided that staying relevant was a goal worth fighting for.
Mike McCarthy didn’t shy away from using his young quarterback as the team mounted its comeback. Hundley attempted 33 passes after halftime and completed 27 for 185 yards and two touchdowns (110.2 rating).
That’s quite a workout. In the case of the Packers, such a heavy dose of passing by one individual has been reserved for games in which they have trailed, usually by double-digit margins.
The first advance cut
Cleveland’s lead to 21-14. Hundley completed seven of eight passes for 57 yards to set up Jamaal Williams’ 1-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.
The second tied the game 21-21 with 17 seconds left. Hundley completed only two passes on the 25-yard push, but the second was a 1-yard payoff to Davante Adams. On that throw, Hundley placed the ball such that cornerback Jason McCourty became nothing more than a spectator.
On the third, game-winning drive in overtime, Hundley went four-for-four. He connected with Williams, Adams, Randall Cobb and again with
Adams for a 25-yard score that was all run after the catch.
For the Packers, having an individual attempt 30 or more passes after halftime is rare. It has happened 28 times during the regular season with Brett Favre (14), Aaron Rodgers (5), Don Majkowski (4), David Whitehurst, Randy Wright, Blair Kiel, Matt Flynn and, now, Hundley serving as triggermen.
Only twice previously has such a barrage resulted in victory. On Oct. 14, 1996, Favre launched 40 passes after the break as
Green Bay edged San Francisco 23-20 in overtime. On Nov. 21, 2004, Favre threw 31 times to lead the Packers past the Texans 16-13 in Houston.
For now, at least, only gentlemen named Brett have won under these circumstances for the Pack.
Hundley, of course, had help. Trevor Davis returned a punt 65 yards to set up the game-tying touchdown. Linebacker Clay Matthews pressured Kizer into an ill-advised pass that safety Josh Jones intercepted to provide a short field (42 yards) for Hundley in overtime.
And Hundley, whose 27 completions tied Favre’s after-halftime record set against the Browns in 2005, can also thank his receivers. Without Adams (10 catches), Williams (5), Geronimo Allison (4), Cobb (3), Jordy Nelson (3) and Lance Kendricks (2), Hundley wouldn’t have made a name for himself in a contest that was essentially a playoff game for Green Bay.
The 10 regular-season games in which a Packers quarterback completed more than 20 passes after halftime.
No. Player Opponent Date
27 Brett Favre Browns Sept. 18, 2005
27 Brett Hundley Browns Dec. 10, 2017
Kiel Seahawks Dec. 9, 1990
22 Brett Favre Dolphins Sept. 11, 1994
22 Brett Favre Buccaneers Dec. 7, 1998
21 Don Majkowski Lions Nov. 20, 1988
21 Brett Favre Bears Oct. 1, 2000
21 Brett Favre Texans Nov. 21, 2004
21 Aaron Rodgers Vikings Nov. 1, 200921 Matt Flynn Vikings Nov. 24, 2013