GREEN BAY – The Packers season is over. And in many respects, they only have themselves to blame.
Sure, there were physical mistakes and missed blocks that never allowed the Green Bay rushing attack to get off the ground and Aaron Rodgers’ key interception thrown late in the fourth quarter essentially ended the Packers last-best scoring opportunity.
But two mind-numbing dead-ball penalties in the worst possible moments will be what fans will be thinking about for a long time after the dust settles on the team’s 20-16 loss to Detroit that ended Green Bay’s season short of a fourth consecutive playoff appearance.
“Well obviously very disappointed right now,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said after the game. “To have an opportunity to go to the playoffs at home and not being able to get it done in that fashion is extremely disappointing”.
At the end of the first half, as the Lions were lining up for what would have been a 47-yard field goal, Green Bay’s Rasul Douglas inexplicably walked through the line of scrimmage to swat the football, and then got flagged for unnecessary roughness when he took a swing at a member of the Lions kick protection team.
The result of the penalty was a long field goal became a relative chip shot 33-yarder, and the Lions went into the locker room with a 9-6 deficit.
And then, in the fourth quarter, rookie linebacker Quay Walker got ejected for the second time this season for shoving a member of the of the opposing team’s non-uniformed staff.
The latest incident happened with 7:55 lest in regulation and the Packers clinging to a 16-13 lead. As Detroit was driving deep inside Green Bay territory, the result was only a 5-yard infraction, but helped set up the winning score; a Jamal Williams 1-yard plunge three plays later.
“That is unacceptable,” said LaFleur. “I’ve got a much higher standard for our players than to do silly things like that. I mean, we’ve had a guy get ejected twice. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in my career. We’ve got to be much more mentally tough. Any time our guys commit personal fouls, I take that very personally. Because I think that’s always a reflection of myself and the standards that we set for these players. We’ve got to be better, and we’ve got to learn from that because that is unacceptable.”
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was similarly disappointed in the result and was peppered with questions about his future. For the most part, he was noncommittal.
“I’m not going to hold them hostage,” Rodgers said of informing the team of his wishes for 2023. “I understand we’re still in January here (and) March is free agency, so I just need some time to, like I said, get the emotion out of it and figure out what’s best.”
For the third consecutive season, the Packers year ends on their home turf of Lambeau Field, short of their oft-stated goal of winning another Super Bowl championship.
“Didn’t take advantage of opportunities,” LaFleur said “To be able to move the ball in the first half and have nine points or whatever it was. You know, basically had two turnovers. The fourth down we didn’t convert. We put our defense in a really tough situation and they were able to hold them to three and then also had a fumble.
“You can’t do those types of things in this type of game.”