This past Sunday, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings missed what would have been the first Pro Bowl game of his budding career. However, considering the circumstances, Jennings was probably as happy as one could be to miss out on that kind of opportunity.
Players who are selected for the Pro Bowl, but are also set to play in the Super Bowl, are removed for precautionary reasons. That’s exactly where Jennings is heading. This Sunday, he and the Packers will line up opposite of the Pittsburgh Steelers for an opportunity to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Dallas, Texas. His dreams coming true with a Pro Bowl and Super Bowl season, Greg is still humbled by times when things didn’t go his way.
Three years ago, Jennings experienced the low point of his career as a pro. The Packers hosted the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants and Jennings figured to be a big factor after catching 53 balls for 12 touchdowns during the regular season and finding the endzone twice against the Seahawks in the Divisional Round. Instead, it turned out to be a nightmare outing for Jennings. He caught just 1 pass for 14 yards and the Packers squandered the opportunity to make a trip to the Super Bowl after the Giants bested them by three points in overtime.
With that performance entrenched in his memory, Greg made sure the outcome was different when the Packers returned to the NFC Championship against the division rival Chicago Bears this year. A week after Jennings set a season high for receptions in a game against the Atlanta Falcons, he followed up with what may have been his best performance of the season.
Jennings’ impact was made clear for the start of the game. On 1st and 10, quarterback Aaron Rodgers dropped back and found Jennings for a 22-yard strike. In one play, Greg topped his 2007 NFC Championship performance. That’d be far from the last time his number was called in the game though.
On the second play, Rodgers locates #85 again, this time for a 26-yarder. In less than a minute, Jennings had two receptions for 48 yards and the complete attention of the Bears defense. With the Chicago D focused on Jennings, Rodgers’ other targets found themselves open, leading to a touchdown on the game’s opening drive and giving Green Bay all the momentum they would need for the day.
In the game, Jennings hauled in 5 receptions for 20-or-more yards (20, 21, 22, 22 and 26), which was half as many as Chicago had given up all season. His 8 overall receptions tied his season high, which was established in the previous playoff game. Most importantly, Greg’s catches helped Green Bay win the battle of field position, and ultimately, the NFC Championship. The wide receiver from Kalamazoo, Michigan is heading to Super Bowl XLV.
Jennings’ third career 100-yard game in the postseason also ties him with Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman for the most in Packers franchise history. Still, what keeps him motivated is remembering how he felt after the 2008 NFC Championship.
“I remember three years ago just sitting in my locker with my pads on and just having a bitter, just a sick feeling,” Jennings told reporters after the game. “So I can sympathize with [the Bears], what they’re going through over there in that locker room. But at the same time, I’m in here with my family and we’re excited about our opportunity.”
Over the last two NFL seasons, the Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers games have been highly publicized due to the battle at quarterback between Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Sunday’s affair was more of a sparring session for the Packers, and while Rodgers was stellar, one of his favorite targets made his job fairly easy. The recipient of Eastbay’s Week 11 NFL Player of the Week honors is Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings.
Jennings was a human highlight reel on Sunday, making acrobatic catches and athletic runs on a demoralized Vikings defense. With the Packers down 3-0 in the second quarter, Jennings caught a deep 47-yard fade pass that set up a Mason Crosby field goal to put Green Bay on the board. On the team’s next possession, Jennings reeled in an 11-yard catch to put the Packers on top. They wouldn’t relinquish that lead for the rest of the game.
Just as he did in the first half, Jennings set the tone for the second. On Green Bay’s first drive, Jennings caught a short pass on a simple comeback route, but managed to make cornerback Asher Allen miss the tackle on his way to a 46-yard touchdown. “When you throw just a comeback to him and he turns it into a big-time touchdown, that makes you look like a lot better quarterback,” Aaron Rodgers said. Jennings also scored on a 22-yard fade pass in the 4th quarter to ice the Vikings for the game and most likely the rest of the season.
On the day, Jennings caught 7 balls for 152 yards, averaging nearly 22 yards per catch. The three touchdown receptions mark a new career high for the wide receiver. These numbers almost surely move his previously ranked Top 10 Pro Performances down a notch. What do you think?
For more on Greg Jennings, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our ‘Off the Field with Greg Jennings’ feature.
Honorable Mention: November 4, 2007 vs. Kansas City Chiefs: 3 catches, 85 yards, 2 TD
In a 33-22 Win over the Chiefs in Week 9, Jennings grabbed three balls, two that went for touchdowns. He had a 13-yarder in the third quarter and a strike from 60 to take the lead with 3:05 left in the game.
10. December 9, 2007 vs. Oakland Raiders: 2 catches, 100 yards, 1 TD
In Week 14 of the 2007 season at Lambeau Field against the Raiders, Jennings caught just two balls, but they went for 100 yards, one of which was an 80-yard touchdown from Brett Favre in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
9. September 24, 2006 vs. Detroit Lions: 3 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD
Consider this Greg Jennings’ breakout performance in the NFL. After having a pretty good game in a loss to the Saints where he grabbed six balls for 67 yards and a score, GJ caught three balls, including a 75-yard TD in the first quarter of what would be his first win pro football.
8. September 13, 2009 vs. Chicago Bears: 6 catches, 106 yards, 1 TD
Trailing 15-13 to the Bears late in the fourth quarter of Week 1 last year, Jennings hauled a 50-yard game-winning score with 1:09 left in the game. He also caught the two-point conversion. Greg finished the game with six catches for 106 yards.
7. December 27, 2009 vs. Seattle Seahawks: 4 catches, 111 yards
In Week 16 of last year Jennings caught four balls for 111 yards for an average of nearly 28 yards per catch. The Pack thumped the Seahawks 48-10 as they were gearing up for the Playoffs.
6. September 21, 2008 vs. Dallas Cowboys: 8 catches, 115 yards
In a Week 3 loss to the Cowboys, Jennings had a season high eight catches for 115 yards.
5. September 28, 2008 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6 catches, 109 yards, 2 TD
In Week 4 against Tampa Bay Jennings had six grabs for 109 yards and two scores, one a 25 yarder in the first quarter and the other a 48-yard snag in the third quarter. The Pack got beat by the Bucs, but this goes down as one of Jennings’ best career performances.
4. December 20, 2009 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 catches, 118 yards, 1 TD
Last year in Week 15 against the Steelers, Jennings had five catches for 118 yards, including an 83-yards first-quarter touchdown strike from Rodgers. The Pack lost 37-36 on a last-second touchdown, otherwise they would have ended the year winning their last eight games.
3. November 22, 2009 vs. San Francisco 49ers: 5 catches, 126 yards, 1 TD
Greg had a big game in Week 11 against the 49ers last year on November 22. He snagged five balls for 126 yards, reaching paydirt once on a 64-yard bomb from Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter. His other grabs were 37, 11, nine and five yards. The Pack won the game 30-24.
2. September 14, 2008 vs. Detroit Lions: 6 catches, 167 yards
In a 2008 Week 2 win over the Lions Jennings caught six balls for 167 yards from QB Aaron Rodgers, including two bombs that went for 60 and 62 yards. The Pack won 48-25, and Jennings had more yards than the other Six Packer WR combined.
1. October 29, 2007 vs. Denver Broncos: 6 catches, 141 yards, 1 TD
In Jennings’ top game as a Packer, he caught six balls for 141 yards, including passes of 12, 18 and 20 yards to go with his 82-yard game-winning TD catch from Brett Favre to give the Packers a 19-13 win. That long touchdown catch is Greg’s favorite memory as a Packer.
Jennings is looking to have a huge season for the Packers, who are picked by some experts to win the Super Bowl. Keep an eye on Greg as the Pack faces the Kevin Kolb-led Eagles on Sunday.
After a successful high school career at Kalamazoo Central, Greg Jennings decided to stay in his backyard to play football at Western Michigan University. In his decorated career as a WMU Bronco, he had a bunch of great games. Take a look below for a more in-depth look at his Top 10 College Performances.
Honorable Mention: October 1, 2005 vs. Buffalo.
A little over three minutes into the game Jennings caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Robbie Haas. Eight seconds into the second quarter, he threw a 22-yard touchdown and with nine minutes left in the half caught a 16-yard touchdown from QB Tim Hiller giving the Broncos a 24-0 lead. Jennings didn’t do much in the second half, but the game was out of reach by then. This game is honorable mention for the fact that GJ caught a TD from two different QBs and threw for another.
10. September 6, 2003 vs. William & Mary: 3 catches, 126 yards, 2 TD
Jennings caught two TDs from Western Michigan QB Chad Munson who threw for 450 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. The first Jennings TD came on a 61-yard pass from Munson in the first quarter to tie the game at seven. The second TD grab came with 2:10 left in the second half as the Broncos scored four unanswered touchdowns, giving them a 35-14 halftime lead. Although Greg only had three catches, they went for an average of 42 per.
9. October 16, 2004 vs. Eastern Michigan: 11 catches, 142 yards, 2 TD
Greg caught a three-yard TD five minutes into the game and a 13-yard score in the second quarter to give the Broncos a 21-10 lead. Unfortunately, they couldn’t hold on as the D let Eastern Michigan score with 21 seconds left in the game. The Broncos lost 35-31, but Jennings had 11 catches with an average over 13+ per including a 42-yarder.
8. November 13, 2004 vs. Miami (OH): 8 catches, 155 yards, 2 TD
Jennings caught a 35-yard score from Blayne Baggett in the first quarter to knot the game at seven. He also caught a 46-yard touchdown in the second quarter to bring the Broncos within two scores. Although they couldn’t rally, Jennings had two out of three of WMU’s TDs and averaged 19.4 yards per catch in the loss.
7. September 3, 2005 vs. Virginia: 16 catches, 156 yards
In the season opener against Virginia, Jennings had a game and career high of 16 catches. Although Western lost, they hung with the Cavaliers, and Greg’s 16 grabs would show that he was the go-to guy from WMU. This game was the first in what would prove to be the start of a big turnaround for the Broncos in 2005.
6. November 1, 2003 vs. Connecticut: 7 catches, 164 yards, 1 TD
About three-and-a-half minutes into the game, Western Michigan QB Jon Drach connected with Jennings on a 70-yard bomb to give the Broncos a quick 7-0 lead. WMU took a 17-0 lead before being outscored 41-10 as their D had no answer for Cornell Brockington who had 186 yards on the ground and four TDs for UCONN. After GJ’s 70 TD, he had six more catches for 94 yards. He and teammate Kendrick Mosley combined to have 17 catches for 324 yards. Jennings also had six kickoff returns for 115 yards in the game.
5. October 22, 2005 vs. Bowling Green: 8 catches, 162 yards, 2 TD
Both of Jennings’ TD catches came in the second quarter of 45-14 thumping of the Bowling Green Falcons. The first was a 16-yard score, and the second was an 89-yard monster as Greg averaged over 20 yards a catch in the game.
4. October 30, 2004 vs. Central Michigan: 8 catches, 167 yards, 1 TD
With one second left in the third quarter of this game, Jennings scored on a 79-yard strike from Bronco QB Ryan Cubit, giving WMU a 14-0 lead. Western lost 24-21 in overtime, however Jennings had a stellar performance finishing with 167 yards from his eight grabs.
3. November 12, 2005 vs. Central Michigan: 9 catches, 171 yards, 2 TD
After falling behind 14-0, Jennings caught a 76-yard score from Tim Hiller on the first play of the drive with 29 seconds left in the first quarter to bring the Broncos within a score. On the first play of another drive in the second quarter, Jennings grabbed a 40-yard score once again from Hiller to give WMU a 21-14 lead. Jennings would finish the game with 171 yards on 19 yards per catch, and the Broncos would go on to win 31-24.
2. November 15, 2003 vs. Central Michigan: 8 catches, 204 yards, 3 TD
To kick off the game, Jennings caught a 15-yard strike from QB Jon Drach. In the third quarter, Jennings caught a 94-yard touchdown, which to this day is still his favorite college football memory. Less than a minute later he caught a 15-yard TD. He finished the game with over 200 yards and over 25 yards per catch, but more importantly, the Broncos beat their rival Central Michigan 44-21.
1. October 8, 2005 vs. Ball State: 11 catches, 244 yards, 4 TD
In Jennings’ most impressive college performance, he had a career high 244 yards and four touchdowns. In the shootout against the Ball State Cardinals, GJ scored a 40-yarder in the first quarter, from 50 and 27 in the second quarter, and had a 25-yard grab in overtime to tie the game. The Broncos ended up losing by three in OT, but this game goes down as Jennings’ most impressive college performance.
For the August issue of Eastbay, we did a photo shoot with Green Bay Packers WR Greg Jennings in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was extremely friendly and cooperative while joking with the crew and being helpful with the equipment. For the full Greg Jennings story click here.