By Lucy Rendler-Kaplan // @lucyrk78
Bears 24 -Packers 17
I know that usually an article would come out immediately following a game. However, I needed a couple of days.
I needed a few days to get over my disappointment. I needed a couple of days so that when I did start to write this article, I wasn’t doing so from a place of anger.
Mostly though, I have just been bummed out.
If this were my usual Green Bay Packers article, I’d go through Sunday’s game. I’d break it down a bit, with a little bit of my own analysis of what went wrong and what went right. Sadly, it really doesn’t matter. With two weeks left in the regular NFL season, the Packers have been eliminated from the playoffs.
For the first time since 1991, the Green Bay Packers (5-8-1, 1-3-1 NFC North) will have back-to-back losing seasons after falling to the Chicago Bears (10-4, 4-1 NFC North) 24-17 Sunday. Even worse? It happened on the day that the Chicago Bears were named NFC North Division Champions.
I live in Chicago and was going to watch the game from my client’s venue. It’s a large sports bar in the western suburbs, and it just so happens that Sunday, we were hosting a benefit during the game with more than 20 former NFL players in attendance. Many former Chicago Bears and I watched the game as I also watched people furiously bidding on the silent auction, which included signed mini helmets from Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky, guard Kyle Long and former Bears running back Matt Forte.
Driving there, the roads were empty and the few people I did see were decked out head to toe in Chicago Bears gear. When I arrived at the bar it was already almost standing room only and my eyes were immediately drawn to the two people there in Aaron Rodgers jerseys. I made a beeline over to give them a hug and thank them for wearing their Packers gear, while noting that the other people at their tables were in Bears jerseys.
There was never really a time during the game that felt like the Packers had a chance. The offense continued to struggle, and like I’ve been saying week after week, QB Aaron Rodgers struggled. Rodgers, for yet another week, missed open receivers and made uncharacteristic mistakes. According to ESPN stats, he finished the day 25/42 with 274 yards, 0 TDs, and an interception.
Green Bay’s only touchdown came from RB Jamaal Williams, who led the running backs in carries after Aaron Jones left the game early with a knee injury. Rodgers’ interception came off a tipped pass to tight end Jimmy Graham and snapped his NFL record of 402 passing attempts without an interception. Both of Rodgers two interceptions this season have come off the hands of Graham. Late in the second half, it seemed that something was bothering Rodgers. That he was hurt.
Up next for Green Bay? Another road game. And we’ve seen how well those have gone this season. The Packers will travel for a game Sunday against the New York Jets. There’s nothing left to play for in these last two games – I’d sit Rodgers. However, in every interview, he keeps saying he’d like to start these final games. I just think it’s better to be safe than sorry, and why risk injuries to ANY starters at this point?
Despite eventually tying the game at 14, the Packers missed their remaining opportunities Sunday. They had their chances to take control of the game and failed to do so.
Getting eliminated from playoff contention is never a good feeling but getting eliminated by your biggest rival is just the salt in the wound for Green Bay…and all of us.
So where do we go from here? Just like last year, we look forward to a new season and a chance to start all over again. There’s going to be a new coach and a new staff. I think it’s now pretty safe to say that Joe Philbin and his staff will not return.
Today? The offseason can’t come soon enough.
Talk Packers with Lucy on Twitter // @lucyRK78