Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers: "If we play up to our potential, we can win our last six games. I'm confident in that"; NBC's Pro Football Talk presenter Mike Florio: "It's just starting to get a vibe of finality. I'm not sure he [Rodgers] is going to play next year"
Friday 18 November 2022 13:49, UK
Aaron Rodgers refuses to admit defeat in the Green Bay Packers' pursuit of the playoffs, stressing that their season "is not over", despite suffering a sixth defeat in seven against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night.
The Packers went down 27-17 to the Titans, dropping them back to 4-7 on the season and further behind the Minnesota Vikings (8-1) in their division.
A Wild Card berth may still be possible, but the San Francisco 49ers (5-4) currently occupy the seventh and final seed in the NFC, with Green Bay likely having to win all six of their remaining games to ensure themselves a postseason place.
|@ Minnesota Vikings
|vs Chicago Bears
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|vs New England Patriots
|W 27-24 (OT)
|vs New York Giants (London)
|vs New York Jets
|@ Washington Commanders
|@ Buffalo Bills
|@ Detroit Lions
|vs Dallas Cowboys
|W 31-28 (OT)
|vs Tennessee Titans
"We've got to play up to our potential," Rodgers told reporters after the game. "If we play up to our potential, we can win our last six games. I'm confident in that.
"Obviously I've got to play up to my potential. Tonight wasn't it."
He added: "The season is not over. There's still six opportunities left. We've got a tough game [in Week 12 against the Eagles], got to go to Philly.
"Hopefully we can use these few days to get a little healthy or refresh the mind, and then obviously we've got to win these next games."
Rodgers went 24-of-39 for 227 yards, with two touchdowns, in the loss to the Titans. The the two-time reigning league MVP, and four-time winner of the award, has been at the heart of Green Bay's struggles in 2022, averaging a career-low 231.1 passing yards.
There was hope that Rodgers and the team had turned the corner when rallying from a two-touchdown, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Dallas Cowboys 31-28 in overtime last Sunday. The 38-year-old QB threw three touchdown passes - all to rookie receiver Christian Watson - and the team topped 30 points in a game for the first time this season.
Rodgers continued his burgeoning connection with Watson against the Titans, the pair combining for two further TDs in the loss, but the future Hall of Fame quarterback otherwise lamented a poor passing performance.
"I've got to throw the ball better than I did tonight," Rodgers said. "Not a lot of margin for error for us and definitely not against a team that gives you some opportunities. We've got to have those plays."
Among the plays that Rodgers wished he could have back was a throw on third-and-12, trailing by 10 with nine and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter, when he missed a wide-open Sammy Watkins across the middle, leading to a punt.
Attempting to explain the root of his struggles, Rodgers said it wasn't down to a thumb injury he has been nursing since a Week Five loss to the New York Giants in London.
"I couldn't tell you [or] point to one thing," he said. "I'm not going to make excuses about my thumb. It's been the same since New York.
"I felt like, fundamentally, I was in a good spot. I just didn't have the same type of consistent grip and the ball coming out the same way. I threw a lot of kind of wobblers tonight.
"There was some wind and I just missed a few throws I should have had. Definitely the one to Sammy [Watkins] and the one to Allen [Lazard]."
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur didn't exactly share Rodgers' optimistic tone on the road ahead for the team when addressing reporters after the game.
"Extremely disappointed right now to put on a performance like that," a more sombre LaFleur reflected. "Especially with where we're at in the season.
"I don't even know what to say. It was nothing like a few days ago [against the Cowboys], and that's why you're only as good as your last game and every time you step out on that field, you've got to go out and do it.
"Even when we are all on the same page, we're not, quite frankly, executing to the level that we need to. That's why we're sitting here at frickin' 4-7!
"We're not in a very good position right now, that's for sure. As I told the guys, there is no margin for error. Period."
The Packers are on the road for the next two weeks, travelling to Philadelphia (8-1) on Sunday, November 27, before then facing their NFC North division rivals, the Chicago Bears (3-7), in Week 13.
Green Bay's bye week follows after that, before they finish the season with a home game against the defending Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams (3-6), on the road at the Miami Dolphins (7-3) and then back-to-back outings at Lambeau Field against the Vikings (8-1) and Detroit Lions (3-6).
Given Rodgers' struggles this season and his advancing age, there have been suggestions that this could be his last year in the NFL.
NBC's Pro Football Talk (Sky Sports NFL, weekdays, 6pm) presenter Mike Florio says there is a "vibe of finality" surrounding Rodgers, despite his insistence that Green Bay's season isn't over.
"The NFL has been in a sweet spot for a few years of enjoying a cluster of really good older quarterbacks and a cluster of really good young quarterbacks," Florio said.
"I had said we were in a golden age of quarterbacking. The only problem is, age.
"We've seen some of the older guys diminish. There's been talk about whether Tom Brady is done? Not so fast on that. But now the two-time defending MVP is looking ordinary, looking glassy-eyed last night. He was missing throws badly.
"There was a throw in the fourth quarter, when it was a 10-point game and the Packers were trying to make something happen... I could have missed Sammy Watkins by that much!
"It was stunning to see. And it's just starting to get a vibe of finality. I'm not sure he is going to play next year.
Florio added: "It just feels like the garage door is starting to close on Rodgers' career. They've got to go 6-0 [to finish the season]. If they were to lose another one and go to 4-8, they'd need to run the table and also get help - and, even then, I don't think a 9-8 record is getting you in [the playoffs] this year in the NFC.
"The playoffs start for the Packers in nine days against the Eagles. If they want to get there, they have to act like they start in Philadelphia."
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