This may be rock-bottom for the Green Bay Packers.
A season that began with Super Bowl expectations hit a low point with a 15-9 loss to the 1-6 Lions at Ford Field Sunday afternoon.
Coupled with another last-minute Minnesota victory over Washington, the 7-1 Vikings now hold a commanding lead over the 3-6 Packers in the NFC North. Chicago is tied with Green Bay while Detroit improved to 2-6.
Green Bay dropped it’s fifth straight game and their season is on life-support.
And it doesn’t get any easier with the Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans invading Green Bay next Sunday and the following Thursday evening, respectively.
Head coach Matt LaFleur said his team had opportunities, but turnovers and penalties again proved costly.
“I thought our defense battled and did a really good job,” LaFleur said. “This is an offense that, I want to say in the last seven games, has scored 27-plus in this building, so to not take advantage of that performance is certainly disappointing.
“Just too many mistakes, turnovers, obviously not scoring the first two times in the red zone, and then penalties at really inopportune times. And the only way we can get through that – we’ve got to stop doing those things that are really hurting us, so I thought the guys played hard. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, but obviously I think everybody’s very, very, very disappointed right now.”
This loss came despite outgaining Detroit 389-254 in yards and a 69-57 advantage in plays. Finishing in the red zone and turnovers were the killers.
Aaron Rodgers endured one of the worst afternoons of his career—against the NFL’s 32nd ranked defense and a team that fired its defensive back coach this week.
Rodgers was intercepted three times, including twice in the red zone. He finished with 23 completions in 43 attempts for 291 yards with one touchdown—and a dismal 53.5 passer rating.
His first interception came in the end zone after his low pass bounced into the air off a Detroit lineman’s helmet. The second pick came when he threw off balance and significantly short to a wide-open David Bakhtiari—yes the offensive tackle—in the end zone that was picked off by rookie sensation Aidan Hutchinson. The third came on a great read by safety Kerby Joseph, who undercut Robert Tonyan’s route and easily intercepted the pass that came after Jaire Alexander had picked off a Lions’ pass to set up the Green Bay offense.
Green Bay had one final march in the final minute but four straight Rodgers passes fell incomplete from the Detroit 17-yard line, with the final one thrown outside when receiver Sammy Watkins ran an inside route. A microcosm of the 2022 season.
There would be no last-minute heroics for the Packers and Rodgers to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.
Rodgers showed his frustration on the field at himself after the picks, yelling some obscenities.
“Yeah, had some (expletive) throws for sure,” he said. “The kid (Lions safety Kerby Joseph) made a nice one down the middle, but the other two, probably should’ve just checked out of that play and handed it off or adjusted for the first one. I was a little off balance and threw a bad one to (Bakhtiari) Dave in the back.”
The 38-year-old quarterback battled to the end, and ran the ball effectively when flushed from the pocket.
It’s not a good sign when your leading rusher is your 38-year-old quarterback. Rodgers finished with 40 yards on four carries as the Packers abandoned the running game in the second half as Aaron Jones was lost to injury.
“They dared us to throw the football,” LaFleur said. Beside the loss of Jones, an excellent receiver, the Packers also lost rookie receivers Romeo Doubs (ankle) and Christian Watson (concussion) in the game.
And in major blow to the Green Bay defense, LaFleur confirmed today that linebacker Rashan Gary will be lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Rodgers was asked in the post-game press conference if he regretted coming back and not retiring this offseason.
Rodgers is focused on the next two weeks and games with the Cowboys and Titans, two playoff-caliber teams. There were no predictions of “run the table” like in 2016.
“I’ve been counted out many times in my life, as have many of my teammates,” Rodgers said. “I hope we just dig deep and find a way. We will truly be underdogs for many games moving forward. Hopefully, we can embrace that. We have two games at home, we’ve got to go win those two games in a week, and then this thing looks a little different.”