Franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers had just gone into a head-first dive for a key conversion on third down late in what would turn into a 17-9 season-opening win for Green Bay over Seattle. Trying to stop him was linebacker K.J. Wright, who came flying in hard for the tackle — too hard in the mind of Bennett. The new addition to the Packers offense towered over Wright and gave him a two-handed shove that sent the veteran flying back and pair of flags flying out of the pockets of the officials.
“That’s my quarterback,” Bennett said afterward. “I always got his back. It’s a bad penalty at that moment in time, but (expletive), I thought it was a cheap shot.”
The shove ended up costing Green Bay 15 yards, but a statement was made, too.
“I think this early in the season it kind of sets the tone,” Bennett said. “Let guys know that, ‘Hey, this is what we’ve got. This is who we are.’ It’s our identity. Other people around the league will see it. We got to set the tone. ‘Hey, you taking shots on our quarterback? We take shots on you.’ That’s just the way it is.”
Just as he had Rodgers’ back, his teammates had his. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix could be seen clapping and shouting loudly from the sideline, clearly pleased with what Bennett did.LISTEN: Martellus Bennett on standing up for Aaron Rodgers
“That’s what we need on this team,” Clinton-Dix said. “We need guys to have each others backs on this team. That was very important to me. Standing up for his teammates. Taking up for a very important player on this team. Just to show his character and who he is as a person. That’s definitely big.
“Damn the flag. It’s about protecting your teammate, and that’s exactly what he did.”
Rodgers said the hit that Wright delivered wasn’t a big one or painful, but that’s irrelevant.
“It meant a lot to me. It really did,” Rodgers said. “Anytime your teammates do something like that it’s special. Those are moments you take with you for a long time.
“I just told Marty right away, ‘Thanks.’”
The penalty ended up meaning little, as three plays later Bennett caught a 26-yard pass from Rodgers that proved to be the dagger in a Green Bay victory.
“I told [coach] Mike (McCarthy), ‘That’s a bad penalty. I’m a vet. I know better than that, but I just can’t let that [expletive] happen.’”