GREEN BAY – For a second consecutive week, the Packers were simply out-played and out-coached in the second half.
Matt LaFleur’s 10-0 winning streak following a loss was obliterated in convincing fashion by the New York Jets at Lambeau Field Sunday afternoon.
And the Packers head coach was very direct in his assessment of his team’s performance before a crowd of 78,343, who voiced their displeasure with a chorus of booing at several points throughout the contest.
“Well obviously I’m extremely disappointed right now,” LaFleur said. “That was very humbling. When you’re in your own building and you get beaten like that and lose by three scores. We’ve all got to be better. Absolutely. Coaching better, got to execute better. We’ve got to get back to work. The reality is right now we’re six games into this thing. We’re three and three. There’s a lot of ball in front of us, but we have to have that urgency to want to improve.”
It’s “look-in-the-mirror time” for the entire Packers organization with a three-game road trip on the horizon.
GM Brian Gutekunst was in the Green Bay locker room after the defeat, and he spent several minutes talking with quarterback Aaron Rodgers in front of his locker. There was no doubt no shortage of topics to discuss after the Packers’ dismal performance in their first regular-season home loss since November 2020 to Minnesota. And they also lost one of Rodgers’ close teammates and favorite third-down targets, Randall Cobb, who was carted off the field with an ankle injury.
“We’re going to have to take a good hard look at everything,” LaFleur said, “And really do some great evaluations from a coaching perspective in terms of what’s working and what’s not working and try to find a different avenue because today was not good enough. Give the Jets a ton of credit.”
It started up front for New York, as their defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. Head coach Robert Saleh gave kudos and credit to his defensive line with one of the all-time great descriptions, stating, “We think they’re a rolling ball of butcher knives.”
On this day, they sliced through the Packers offensive line early and often, limiting Green Bay to just 60 total rushing yards—41 by AJ Dillon and 19 by Aaron Jones. Rodgers, playing with an injured right thumb, was sacked four times and hit nine times. It got so bad that tackle Royce Newman was benched in favor of Jake Hanson, who played once series before departing with a bicep injury.
Rodgers finished with an 88.1 passer rating with 26 completions in 41 attempt s for 246 yards and one touchdown—a perfect 25-yard back-shoulder bullet to Alan Lazard to pull the Packers within 17-10 late in the third quarter. Rodgers never developed a consistent rhythm with his wide receivers, but Robert Tonyan has a monster day with 10 receptions for 90 yards to set a franchise record for catches in a single game by a tight end.
With the loss, Green Bay is 3-3 on the season and two games behind division-leading 5-1 Minnesota, 24-16 winners over Miami yesterday.
The Packers loss total for this season now equals the loss total LaFleur’s team finished with in each of his first two seasons in Green Bay. And it’s game six of 17 in the 2022 season.
It was as ugly a first half in recent years at Lambeau Field. The teams were deadlocked 3-3 in a half that featured nine punts, nine first downs, a blocked field goal, and two fumbles.
The Jets made a statement early in the third quarter.
The New York offense punted on their first series, but shocked the Packers with a 74-yard touchdown drive in just 4 plays, highlighted by Zach Wilson passes of 11 and 41 yards to Corey Davis and culminated by a 20-yard scoring burst by Braxton Berrios for a 10-3 lead. That play typified the poor tackling by the Packers defense at times in the game.
The play of the game was another special teams nightmare for Green Bay, as Will Parks returned a blocked punt by Michael Clemons 20 yards on the ensuing series for a 17-3 cushion.
The Packers made one last run and responded late in the third quarter with a six-play, 75-yard drive and capped by Rodgers’ perfect strike to Lazard. Green Bay would get o closer and the Jets closed out the contest with 10 fourth-quarter points on Breece Hall’s 34-yard reverse for a touchdown and a 23-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein.
After the game, Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner donned a foam cheesehead and wore it as he ran off the field—but up the wrong tunnel. Lazard knocked it off his head as he entered the Packers tunnel, but Jets staff helped direct their prized rookie defender to the correct tunnel. Afterward, in the visitor’s locker room, Gardner had the cheesehead in his locker. “I got a souvenir,” Gardner said with a huge smile. “And we got the win. I loved it out there today. Our defense play so well all game.”
The Packers will attempt to right the ship as they embark on a three-game road trip. Green Bay travels to Washington, Buffalo, and Detroit.
“There’s going to be adversity in this league,” LaFleur said. “We know that and we’re going to found out a lot about ourselves moving forward. Where we are right now and how we respond. I believe in the guys in the locker room. I know we have a great group of men and I think everybody’s going to stick together through this. We’re going to continue to scratch and claw and fight our way out of this.”