CHARLOTTE – When you hit a quarterback as many times as the Panthers hit reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, it takes its toll.
Five sacks and 14 quarterback hits didn't just impact the outcome of those 19 plays. That kind of relentless pressure can speed up a quarterback's clock. It gets their attention and keeps their attention.
And in big moments, that can be a difference-maker. Exhibit A: Fourth-and-goal from the 4 with last Sunday's game hanging in the balance.
Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb was wide open in the right corner of the end zone. But the ball never got there.
"I had the easy opportunity there for a pitch and catch touchdown, but I got scared by something, I can't explain it," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
Carolina's pressure explains the end result.
Rodgers started the play looking right, in the direction of Cobb. But defensive end Mario Addison, who was double-teamed, rushed off the right side and forced Rodgers' eyes and feet left. He stepped into the interior rush of defensive tackle Kawann Short and tossed a hopeful pass into the hands of linebacker Thomas Davis.
"He was feeling (the pressure), and when you can do that, it has a trickle-down effect for later in the game," defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "We affected the quarterback.
"Extremely proud of the effort, extremely proud of the preparation and the toughness that was displayed at the end of the game in that situation we were in."
View the top photos by team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez from Carolina's game against Green Bay.