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Packers Playoff Hopes Doused In Rodgers Return To Action

playoff hopes doused Keith Allison via Flickr


Packers Playoff Hopes Doused In Rodgers’ Return

Green Bay had their playoff hopes doused in a Week 15 loss, putting their record at 7-7. Aaron Rodgers’ return to the field was anything but a fairytale. While Rodgers’ return revitalized the passing game, the Carolina defense was up for the challenge. On the flip side, Dom Capers’ defense struggled to pin down the Cam Newton led offense. Even with these struggles, Green Bay had an opportunity to push the game into overtime. Unfortunately, a late-game fumble would do the Packers in as Rodgers looked for another comeback.
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Green Bay punted on their first drive, leading to a Carolina touchdown. The Aaron Rodgers led offense followed their lead. Davante Adams caught a 13-yard touchdown as the first quarter expired. After slowing the Panthers down, Rodgers led a late first-half drive capped off with a 33-yard Randall Cobb touchdown.

Green Bay went into the break with a 14-10 lead, but it would not hold for long. Rodgers would throw interceptions on the first two possessions of the second half. At the same time, the defense could not contain the Panthers offense. Carolina would take advantage of the Pack’s mistakes. They posted three touchdowns on their first four possessions in the second half.

The Packers trailed 31-17 as the fourth quarter trickled out of time. With about four minutes left, Rodgers orchestrated a precision drive. The Aaron Rodgers, Richard Rodgers tandem was in full effect. A-Rod found Rodgers for 36 yards to open the drive, and a 24-yard touchdown to close it. Trailing 31-24, Green Bay attempted an onside kick. Mason Crosby’s kick bounced out of Christian McCaffrey‘s hands and into the hands of Marwin Evans. The magic of Aaron Rodgers seemed to be back in effect. Unfortunately, it would not last long. Geronimo Allison would snag a slant inside Carolina territory but would fumble immediately. Carolina would recover and drain the clock, as Rodgers’ return was spoiled. Additionally, the loss likely ends the Packers hopes of heading to the 2017 playoffs.

Rodgers In His Return

Aaron Rodgers had his share of struggles in his return to action from a collarbone injury. According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers posted an average grade of 70.4. Also, his three interceptions matched his total on the season. However, his play drifted up and down throughout the day. That being said, he was classically smooth when his team needed him most.

Constant blitzes proved to be a struggle for him in Carolina. Rodgers threw each of his three interceptions against the blitz. Over 30 of his dropbacks were met with blitzes. However, arm strength seemed to be an issue on two of the questionable decisions. An underthrown ball to Jordy Nelson found its way into James Bradberry‘s hands. Overall, he completed just 26 of his 45 passes. That 58% completion percentage was the worst on the year for him.

Even so, Rodgers looked as healthy as ever throughout the course of the game. Using his legs, A-Rod ran for 43 yards on just six carries. Impressively, he found Cobb on a scramble in the second quarter in classic fashion. The impact on his right shoulder had the sideline gasping, but Rodgers’ shoulder held up fine. Moreover, his precision passing reappeared when it was most needed. Down the stretch, Rodgers kept the Packers in the game, picking apart the Panthers defense.

Even with the Packers having their playoff hopes doused on Sunday, Rodgers expects to play against the Vikings in Week 16.

Takeaways From Sunday

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The Packers had their playoff hopes doused in Week 15, but that was not their only loss. Davante Adams suffered his second concussion of the season, just as questionable as the first. Thomas Davis Sr. hit Adams on a blindside block following an interception. Ultimately, the play cost the Packers their number one wide receiver for the game and possibly longer. His status will be questionable as the season concludes. Adams took to Twitter to discuss his frustrations with the injuries, take a look here. On Monday, the NFL announced that Davis would receive a two-game suspension for the hit.

Following the loss at Carolina, the Packers have a slim chance of making the dance. Unless the Falcons lose out, Green Bay is done for. The Falcons face the Buccaneers Monday night, so Green Bay will know their chances sooner rather than later. With their playoff hopes doused, or on the verge, Cheeseheads place their faith with Tampa Bay.

Photo by Keith Allison