Aaron Rodgers put up some big numbers as usual, but he walked off the field rueing the one incompletion he made at the end that he'd give anything to have back.
Aaron Rodgers took three quick steps back after the snap. He held the ball calmly, looked down the middle of the field to move the coverage, before looking to his right, ready to flip the ball to Marquez Valdes-Scantling for an easy completion of about 4 to 5 yards on an out route.
It might have been one of the easiest passes Rodgers would throw on an evening where at times he looked like a magician with brilliant deep passes that few in the game can dream of making, and other times where he looked mortal in the face of persistent pressure from the Seahawks defense.
With his team down 27-24 against the Seahawks, and facing a third-and-two on the Packers’ 33, Rodgers only needed to complete that simple pass he’s made countless times in his illustrious career to keep the drive going and possibly will the Packers to yet another fourth-quarter comeback.
Instead, he fired a lawn dart straight into the turf of CenturyLink Field. The ball bounced in front of the feet of Valdes-Scantling — incomplete, fourth down.
“The ball just stuck to my hand and went in the dirt,” Rodgers said. “It’s frustrating.”
It was an awful mistake from a quarterback who isn’t supposed to make such miscues in that situation.
“I could attempt that 100 more times and probably not do that again,” he said. “It was a gimme out there.”
Rodgers looked down at the field in disgust and then up at the scoreboard clock, probably wondering if he would get another chance again.
The Packers were forced to punt the ball away and Rodgers wouldn’t take another snap. The Seahawks did what teams that pride themselves on running the football do. They took over with 4:11 remaining and ran the ball four times, getting two first downs to close out a 27-24 victory.
“Tonight we were terrible on third down,” Rodgers said. “Situationally, we have got to score touchdowns in the red zone. We had a chance to score a touchdown in the first quarter and go up a couple of scores and we didn’t. We had a chance in the fourth quarter to go up by eight and didn’t get it done. Situational football.”
His disgust postgame was palpable. His frustration was noticeable in every failure on the field.
“Winning is a lot of fun,” he said. “And we haven’t strung together too many back-to-back wins or won on the road yet. That part is not fun. I love my teammates and I love competing, but losing is not fun.”
Rodgers admitted that part of him wanted to go for it on fourth-and-two after his misfire. Coach Mike McCarthy said it was discussed on the sidelines because of multiple injuries to his defense.
“It was definitely a consideration,” he said. “But with one timeout and the ability to stop the clock at the two-minute (warning), we played the numbers. But we considered taking timeout and going for it on fourth-and-two.”
Rodgers gave a wry smile when asked if they had a play ready for that situation. It would have involved wide receiver Davonte Adams, who had 10 catches for 166 yards in the game.
“Not necessarily one play, but there was something where Davonte would have been in a spot to get the first look,” Rodgers said. “He’s a great player, but tonight he was really going and tough to stop. So he would have been the first look.”
He completed 21 of his 30 pass attempts for 332 yards and two touchdowns. He made some unbelievable throws in those 21 completions. On a scramble later in the first quarter, Rodgers avoided a sack, rolled away from pressure, looked down field and uncorked a majestic throw back across the field to fourth-string tight end Robert Tonyan, who never gave up on the play, for a 54-yard touchdown completion. It was a preposterous decision and throw that most quarterbacks would never try or complete.
“He was in my vision and kept going,” Rodgers said. “I rolled out to the right and I had a quick flashback to last week when I was thinking about pulling the trigger on a pass to Jimmy (Graham) and was in between. I told myself before the game that if I was in a situation like that to take a shot. I saw him and just tried to throw it as far as I could.”
In the second quarter, he fired a pretty ball off his back foot to Aaron Jones for a 24-yard touchdown and a 21-17 lead.
But perhaps his best throw of the night didn’t yield a touchdown. It came in the fourth quarter with the Packers trying to stretch out a 21-20 lead to eight points. On third-and-nine, the Seahawks brought a safety blitz, which Rodgers read and capitalized on, firing a deep pass to Adams for a 57-yard completion. Green Bay had the ball on the Seattle 17-yard line, but settled for only a field goal. And it proved costly.
“The frustration is in the execution and the execution hasn’t been great, especially in situational offense,” he said. “When you compare it to years past, we’ve always been really good on third down and really good in the red zone. And we are just not this year. And that’s the biggest frustration.”