Aaron Rodgers’ potential last dance with Green Bay did not get off to the start he or anyone else wanted or expected, as the Packers got hammered 38-3 by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in Jacksonville.
Playing for the first time since the NFC title game last January, the future Hall of Fame quarterback looked nothing like the MVP performer he was a year ago. The team’s first two drives consisted of 12 plays and 21 yards. Meanwhile, the Saints had scoring drives of nine plays, 15 plays and another with 15 plays to take a 17-3 lead into halftime.
Things got worse for Rodgers and the Packers in the second. After driving all the way down inside the New Orleans 10-yard line, Rodgers threw a bad pass intended for Davante Adams that was intercepted by rookie cornerback Paulson Adebo.
It was kind of the play of the game that swung things big time. It was 17-3. If we score there, then it is 17-10,” Rodgers said. “I wish I would have thrown that one away or thrown it to Jonesy right way.
Obviously, that changed the game.”
Rodgers would toss another interception to the Saints on the next possession, this time on a miss to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Saints converted that one into a touchdown and the rout was on.
“They came ready to play and absolutely embarrassed us today,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “You can’t do that against a well-coached and quality football team. Our guys will have to take a hard look in the mirror. It starts with myself. Obviously, (we) did not get these guys ready to play ball and that is what happens when you go out there and play like that against a good football team.”
LaFleur took Rodgers out of the game when it got to 38-3 near the middle of the fourth quarter, allowing Jordan Love to lead the final two drives. Perhaps in fitting fashion, Love drove the team down inside the 5-yard line in the final minute of the game before turning the ball over with a fumble.
Rodgers finished 15-for-28 for 133 yards and two interceptions. In his remarkable season a year ago, the quarterback didn’t throw his first pick until Week 6 and finished with a total of five all year.
“It’s just one game. We played bad. I played bad,” Rodgers said. “Offensively, we didn’t execute
very well. It’s one game. We have 16 to go. We’ll evaluate the film like we always do. We will be
critical, and we’ll move on.”
Green Bay’s offense wasn’t alone in its deficiencies. The Saints’ offense did pretty much whatever they wanted, rushing for 171 yards, much of that coming in the first half as they established their dominance. Quarterback Jameis Winston threw for just 148 yards, but five of his 14 completions resulted in touchdowns.
The 35-point loss was the worst in a game started by Rodgers, topping the 31-point loss to Detroit in the 2018 season-finale in which Rodgers was forced to leave early with a concussion. The three points was also the fewest in a game Rodgers started and finished.
“There’s not much that you can say. They beat us,” Rodgers said. “They played way better than us. We played bad. I played bad. It was uncharacteristic of how we practiced in training camp. This is hopefully an outlier moving forward. We will find out next week.”
The Packers got hit by injuries, too, losing tight end Josiah Deguara to a concussion, while safety Darnell Savage exited with a shoulder injury.
Green Bay will return home next Monday to face the Lions at Lambeau Field.