GREEN BAY, Wis. – Kurt Benkert might never forget his second touchdown drive of Saturday, a possession filled with highlight passes and blooper-reel material.
With Aaron Rodgers being saved for the regular season and Jordan Love out with a shoulder injury, Benkert started and played almost the entirety of a 23-14 loss against the New York Jets. The 19-play, 81-yard scoring drive “was the longest drive of my life. I’ve never had that happen. It was wild,” Benkert said.
Starting at the 19 early in the second quarter, Benkert rolled out to his right and completed a short pass to running back Kylin Hill to convert a third down. That’s when chaos struck. On first down, he tripped over rookie right guard Josh Myers and landed on his butt. On second down, it was a near-replay. Benkert tripped over Myers and fell; this time he got up, broke a tackle and turned nothing into something.
On third-and-8, he zipped a pass to Malik Taylor for the first down. One play later, veteran lineman Lucas Patrick was flagged for holding. On third-and-2, the protection was botched and Benkert was drilled as he tried to complete a pass to running back Patrick Taylor. On fourth down, Benkert connected with Reggie Begelton for a gain of 11. Later, on third-and-5, Benkert’s deep back-shoulder pass to Malik Taylor gained 21 for another first down.
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Moments later, on third-and-12, Benkert extended the play to his right and was almost intercepted, but Hill was tackled by veteran linebacker C.J. Mosley to give the Packers a first down at the 11. On the next play, Patrick again was flagged for holding but Patrick Taylor ran for gains of 12 and 4 yards to make it third-and-4 at the 5. Benkert converted yet another third down with a beautiful pass, this one a deft throw over cornerback Bryce Hall to tight end Jace Sternberger for the touchdown.
“We were winded but we had each other’s backs,” Malik Taylor said. “We’re built for it. We didn’t blink. We just kept going.”
To summarize, Benkert tripped and fell twice and a veteran lineman gave away 20 yards with holding penalties. And yet the quarterback who’s in his fourth year in the NFL but has yet to throw a regular-season pass overcame a second-and-13, a second-and-11, a second-and-12 and a first-and-20 by having a hand in six conversions on either third or fourth down.
“The thing that I'm most proud of is that drive that could have went to crap, and it didn’t and we ended up rolling with it,” he said. “I think that's kind of a testament to how I like to play. Just keep on going. I threw a pick and just get out the next drive and keep it going. Don’t be gun-shy because something went wrong. I just let them know that’s how I play and I’m going to do my best to take care of the football and make plays.”