GREEN BAY, Wisconsin — Aaron Rodgers didn’t expect to play another terrible half against the New England Patriots on Sunday, and the Green Bay Packers quarterback was right.
And Packers coach Matt LaFleur is hoping he doesn’t make another “worst decision of the day” when it comes to an ill-advised replay challenge.
They narrowly escaped in a 27-24 overtime win over the Patriots at Lambeau Field on Sunday. But had they not faced a third-row rookie quarterback with Bailey Zappe for most of the game, they might not have done it.
“That kind of winning is unsustainable in my opinion because it puts too much pressure on our defense,” Rodgers said. “And of course I have to play better and will play better.”
Though Rodgers appreciated his team’s luck going into next Sunday’s game against the New York Giants in London 3-1, Rodgers didn’t shy away from the reality of what could have been.
“You can’t lose 2-2 to a third-string quarterback and not play great in all three stages, so we had to have these,” Rodgers said. “That doesn’t detract from the joy of the win, but we had to have it.”
The Packers were down 10-7 at halftime, in part because of Rodgers, who:
Had the lowest passer rating (11.2) of any half in all 210 games he started.
Just threw the fourth pick-six of his career when rookie cornerback Jack Jones jumped an out route the quarterback had planned for Allen Lazard, in which Rodgers said he “missed the throw so badly [Jones] overrun it. That would have been nice. If I threw the ball where I should have, he would probably pick it up in the crotch.”
Went so wide on a short throw at Romeo Doubs that the rookie wide receiver couldn’t save it easily enough before fumbling. “That wasn’t a good shot,” Rodgers said. “Nice catch of him. I almost wish he’d dropped it.”
Rodgers got next to nothing on the field in the first half. He completed only 1 of 5 passes for 10 or more air yards in the first two quarters. It was a 24-yarder for Lazard (who had six catches for 116 yards on a Packers player’s first 100-yard receiving day this season). In the second half, Rodgers went 7-on-9 for 141 yards and two touchdowns on those throws.
“I’ve settled in and don’t usually have two terrible halves,” Rodgers said. “So I sort of got back to the form I expect from myself and we started moving the football.”
It helped that Rodgers was finally starting to expand the field. He hit a season-high 9.0 air yards per attempt Sunday after hitting a league-low 5.2 air yards in the first three weeks, according to a study by ESPN Stats & Information.
It also helped that the Packers rushed for 199 yards (including 110 from Aaron Jones on 16 carries).
But mistakes still made it necessary to go into overtime.
One was from LaFleur, who challenged a 40-yard touchdown catch by Doubs with 2 minutes and 2 seconds left. Doubs clearly didn’t secure the catch, and LaFleur even said his Eye-in-the-Sky trainer Connor Lewis told him that. But LaFleur still threw the red flag. Losing the challenge cost him a timeout that might have helped the Packers win normally, but instead they got the ball back with just four seconds left.
“I’m not particularly proud of this moment,” LaFleur said. “It was an emotional decision and I think it’s a great lesson that you can never make those emotional decisions in the heat of the moment. you know better You have to survive the ground. Connor Lewis was in my ear, he’s up in the box and he’s in my ear, and he said, ‘I don’t think so.’ And he said not to challenge it. We just made an emotional decision, and it was almost like throwing an Hail Maria. That could have come back and bite us in the butt.
And then there’s the Packers’ defense, which was highly praised ahead of the season. The defense almost got hit by a third-line quarterback, and they’ve struggled on the run (the Patriots have averaged 5.1 yards per attempt) so far.
While the way they won may not be sustainable, that doesn’t mean the Packers can’t keep winning.
“I think winning is definitely sustainable,” Rodgers said. “I think we need to play a little better against quarterbacks and when our defense isn’t playing as well as it can.”
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34715708/qb-aaron-rodgers-green-bay-packers-ot-escape-vs-new-england-patriots-way-winning-think-sustainable QB Aaron Rodgers after Green Bay Packers’ OT escape vs. New England Patriots