It was a never a guarantee, just a feeling. But whatever you want to call it, quarterback Aaron Rodgers delivered on it.
A little more than five weeks after telling reporters that he felt the Green Bay Packers could run the table and win out, that’s exactly what the team did with a 31-24 NFC North-clinching win in Detroit Sunday night.
“That’s what you have to do sometimes as a leader,” Rodgers said of his ‘run the table’ comment that came in the midst of a four-game losing streak to drop the Packers to 4-6 on the year. “You have to exude confidence even in a situation where it seems to the outside world that confidence shouldn’t exist. And that’s what I did. I believe in myself and my abilities, but I also believe in this team. This wasn’t just a shot in the dark.”
Since making that comment, the Packers are 6-0 and Rodgers has thrown 15 touchdowns and no interceptions, and put himself firmly in the race for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award, something he’s taken home twice in his career already.
“Great players make other players so much better around them,” coach Mike McCarthy said of Rodgers, who finished the season with 40 touchdowns to lead the NFL.
The Lions led at the half 14-10, but a 10-play, 75-yard drive, that Rodgers capped off with a 3-yard touchdown to wide receiver Davante Adams, gave Green Bay a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. All but one of the Packers four touchdown drives went at least 70 yards, including on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to virtually seal the game.
“There was never any reason not to believe we were going to be here today,” McCarthy said when asked how his team turned things around after the 4-6 start. “This team, they’re different.
“This team has an energy, it has an edge, it has confidence that was evident very early in our preseason. I’ve always believed in that. And they believe in that. Maybe that’s why we aren’t doing cartwheels right now.”
They aren’t because the end goal wasn’t to win the NFC North. It was a goal, but not the goal. That — a victory in Super Bowl LI — remains out there, starting with a visit from the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon.
“We have bigger aspirations,” McCarthy said. “This is the first step. This is the threshold to get in the playoffs, getting in this tournament. We’ll move on Monday. Get healthy (and) get ready for the Giants.”
Green Bay has been tormented by injuries throughout the year, and that continued on Sunday night, specifically in the secondary where they lost three cornerbacks — Quinten Rollins, Damarious Randall and Makinton Dorleant — in close succession.
The most serious appeared to Rollins, who landed hard on the Detroit sideline early in the second half, and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. He was taken to a local hospital, and Packers officials said he was alert and able to move all his extremities.
Randall injured his knee in the first half and didn’t return, while Dorleant was carted off after being injured on special teams in the second half.
The injuries left safety Micah Hyde as one of the two outside cornerbacks along with LaDarius Gunter, while safety Morgan Burnett was forced to play as the nickel cornerback in the slot.
Tickets on sale
The team announced that about 8,000 tickets were available to the general public for the playoff game against the Giants at Lambeau Field. The sale was the result of tickets not claimed by season-ticket holders.
You can order them here: