As snow swirled through Lambeau Field, it’s likely the Green Bay Packers’ realistic playoff aspirations fluttered away, as well.
Amid an uncharacteristic autumn in Wisconsin, the latest unconventional chapter saw Aaron Rodgers miss badly on myriad throws and the Packers booed by cold and disenfranchised fans during Thursday night’s 27-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
“Interesting,” Rodgers said of the boos. “That’s the best I can give you.”
On the evening, Rodgers finished 24-of-39 passing for 227 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 94.7 rating. At a glance, it’s hardly a bad night, but throughout the course of Green Bay’s sixth loss in its last seven games, Rodgers misfired on passes he’s long been right on the mark with. And on Thursday, he missed a few badly.
Rodgers admitted his play was sub-par, but wasn’t certain to why it came to be, though he was quick not to place blame on the injured right thumb he’s been nursing since Week 5.
“I couldn’t tell you, point to one thing,” the two-time reigning AP NFL Most Valuable Player said. “I’m not going to make excuses about my thumb, it’s been the same since New York. I don’t know. I gotta go back and look at it. It felt like fundamentally I was in a good spot. I just didn’t have the same type of consistent grip and ball coming out the same way. I threw a lot of kinda wobblers tonight. There was some wind. I just missed a few throws I shoulda had.”
With thoughts of a comeback still dancing through their heads trailing, 27-17, early in the fourth quarter, the Packers came away with no points over their final four possessions.
There was a three-and-out with two incompletions. Then there was another three-and-out that ended when Rodgers missed a wide-open Sammy Watkins on a crossing route by at least three yards on third down. Thereafter, the Packers turned it over on downs when Rodgers skied a ball 10 yards past Allen Lazard on fourth-and-3. Green Bay’s final possession came up short on fourth again, this time with Aaron Jones getting stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1.
This is not the Packers team anyone expected at the genesis of the season, and this not the Rodgers anyone has ever expected.
Coming off an overtime win against the Dallas Cowboys, there was merit to reason a turnaround could be ahead. Any thoughts of such a turnaround were grounded out by the Titans.
“I think last week showed us a lot, the possibilities,” Rodgers said. “This week we didn’t play as complimentary in all three phases.”
Though it’s still technically autumn, it’s more than likely that the Packers are in the winter of their 2022 campaign. They’re currently 10th in the NFC standings and have seemingly been searching all season long for their identity, for a rhythm, for anything to keep their expectations alive.
Rodgers is still a believer, but much like too many of his passes on Thursday, it seems those playoff hopes are wayward.
“We gotta play up to our potential,” Rodgers said. “If we play up to our potential, we can win our last six games. I’m confident of that. Obviously I gotta play up to my potential; tonight wasn’t it.”