Green Bay, Wis. – to think, Aaron Rodgers At one point this season, he had the idea of being a backup quarterback Jordan love The season might be over if the Green Bay Packers are just playing the series.
And that was barely over a month ago.
The Packers had just fallen 4-8 after a loss at the Philadelphia Eagles, as Rodgers left the game with a rib injury. They were on the brink of playoff elimination, and their chances were 3% according to ESPN’s Football Strength Index.
No wonder Rodgers needed a second — seven of them, in fact — to collect himself before he could explain how it all felt facing him to win and get involved next weekend. Green Bay will host the Detroit Lions in the regular season finale at Lambeau Field next Sunday.
“It feels really special, it is,” Rodgers said. “It’s been an interesting year. It hasn’t been my best football at times, but I’ve been asked to step up my leadership and be someone the players can count on to keep them together, even when it doesn’t look like there’s anything to play for or we don’t have a chance to run.” There were so many special moments throughout the year.”
One of them was the win over the Minnesota Vikings 41-17 on Sunday. This came 16 weeks after the Vikings blew the Packers in Minnesota in the season opener.
Rodgers wasn’t doing great. In fact, there weren’t many of them. He completed just 15 of 24 passes for 159 yards. He threw one touchdown and ran off another. He caught exactly one assist in each of the Packers’ four games in this winning streak. It marked the first time in Rodgers’ career that the Packers had won four straight with one or fewer touchdowns thrown on each of them.
At no point did Rodgers make one of his signature announcements like “Relax” or say he thinks Packers players can “turn the tables” like he did in 2016 when they were 4-6 and won to get all the way to the NFC Championship Game.
“He didn’t look great for a while,” said Rodgers. And I resigned myself to the fact that some of those realities were possible. And when I took my mind there, I felt peace about it. I had peace about it all. That thing. And I think that’s what I’m most proud of, for myself and our team, is that there were so many different things that could have happened, and we’re stuck together and putting ourselves in a position to do something special.”
Rodgers said something Sunday that he wouldn’t admit when they were 3-6, losing five straight after Nov. 6 in Detroit and was looking at a set of games that went to Dallas-Tennessee-Philadelphia. But now he can say he told himself if they can win one of those three games, they’ll have a chance to go 9-8 and sneak into the playoffs.
Sure enough, they beat the Cowboys to end the losing streak but then followed up with losses to the Titans and Eagles.
“I had faith, as at 4-6 I believe at 16,” Rodgers said. “Sometimes you have to cheat yourself a little bit to believe a little bit more.”
Much of the rest of the team followed. A highly touted but failed defense for most of the season turned things around to a four-point tune in each of the last two games to go along with the corner kick. Jair AlexanderClose-to-shut performance for the Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson (One catch for 15 yards). Then there is the advent of yield Casen Nixonwho had a 105-yard return for a touchdown in the first quarter on Sunday.
“You can sit there and preach what you want, but they have to buy into it and that’s a credit to the guys in our locker room,” Packers coach Matt Lafleur said. “I’ve always said it and I think[General Manager Brian Gutkunst]and his staff do such a great job of bringing in such high-quality people that in times of adversity you really discover what you have, not just from our coaches, our players, but really everyone in the building. And I think everyone stuck together. I never at one point felt any finger-pointing. So that’s a credit to everyone in our organization.”