GREEN BAY — For the first time since 2013, the Green Bay Packers experienced life without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, and it’s just as rough as everyone remembered. With the future Hall of Fame signal caller recovering from collarbone surgery, Brett Hundley made his first career start, running for one touchdown but largely struggling in a 26-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Play of the Game
With the Saints leading 19-17 midway through the fourth quarter, Trevor Davis, instead taking the ball at the 25-yard line on a touchback, returned a kickoff from five yards deep in the end zone. He brought it all the way back to the 40-yard line, but only got there because one of his guys held on the return. After the penalty, the Packers started at their own 10. Three plays later, Green Bay was punting, and by the time the Packers got the ball back, they were down two scores.
Offense: Aaron Jones
The rookie was fantastic, running for a career-high 131 yards, including 64 yards on the opening drive that he finished off with a 46-yard touchdown run up the middle. It’s clear Jones is the most explosive of Green Bay’s running backs and has the confidence of the offensive line in front of him.
“He’s hungry. I enjoy seeing him run the ball,” left tackle David Bakhtiari said. “He’s got an extra gear [and] he can take the top off on a run, which is nice. I enjoy getting him touches. We’re going to keep doing our best anytime we call on thirty-three.”
Jones now has a pair of 100-yard games in his first three starts.
Defense: Blake Martinez
The Packers defense wasn’t great by any stretch, but Martinez was a busy man. He recorded a career-high 15 tackles, including 12 solo stops.
Special Teams: Justin Vogel
The Green Bay punter was put to work on Sunday, and he delivered by averaging 47.6 yards on his five kicks, with a net of 46.2. The dangerous Ted Ginn was held to just one return for seven yards.
In their own words
WR Randall Cobb when asked about trying to get on the same page as Hundley:
“It’s going to be important for us to continue to build confidence in him to throw it to us in different situations. There were opportunities today. Jordy (Nelson) and Davante (Adams) got on top [of guys] all day. There were a few inside as well with myself. We just have to continue to build that chemistry with Brett.”
Hundley when asked about trying to keep the team afloat while Rodgers is out:
“All I can say is don’t write us off. I think that’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to get better and we will get better. But we’re not out. Just because of this game and we’re 4-3 now. We still have everything in front of us. We’ve got our division games in front of us. We can still win the division, make the playoffs. Down the road, if Aaron is healthy and comes back and we’re still rolling, he’ll be available. But we’ve just got to win games and keep this season rolling.”
Coach Mike McCarthy on the struggles in the passing game that produced just 79 yards:
“It was a challenge I didn’t meet today. He didn’t get comfortable in the pocket and that’s my responsibility. Did a poor job coaching.
“Our passing game, we can sit here and pick it apart all you want. Let’s just blame it on the head coach today, OK?
In Case You Missed It
— ESPN’s Adam Shefter reported Sunday morning that the Packers feel Rodgers will be able to start throwing in six weeks, meaning a late-season return is possible. Because he’s on injured reserve, the earliest he could play is Week 15 at Carolina.
— One of Green Bay’s captains was guard Jahri Evans, who played his entire career with the Saints before this season.
— The Packers honored the 1967 NFL Championship team and many of the players were on hand. That included quarterback Bart Starr, who has overcome serious health issues in recent years.
— Former Wisconsin offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk started at right tackle for the Saints. He was the team’s first-round pick in April’s NFL draft.
Inside the Numbers
— Jones’ 46-yard touchdown was the longest score on a running play for the Packers since 2015.
— Green Bay dropped to 2-6-1 in games that Rodgers has missed due to injury since he took over as the starter in 2008.
— Drew Brees threw for 331 yards on Sunday. He’s now thrown for at least 300 yards in each of the seven games he’s faced the Packers in his career.
Green Bay (4-3) has its bye next week. The Packers will return to action Monday, Nov. 6 against Detroit at Lambeau Field.