Aaron Rodgers is a two-time NFL MVP, but he played nowhere near that form in Sunday’s 30-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field.
Rodgers entered the game 4-1 in his career against Dallas, including one playoff win, and had completed 120 of 179 passes (67.0 percent) for 1,302 yards with nine touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 105.0 passer rating.
But continuing a trend that has persisted for nearly a full calendar year, the Packers’ offense again struggled. Despite solid pass protection — he was sacked just once and often had plenty of time to throw — Rodgers’ inaccuracy when given the opportunity to make big plays was stunning.
A few examples:
▪ On first-and-10 from the Dallas 33-yard line with the Cowboys leading 7-3 early in the second quarter, Rodgers threw behind tight end Richard Rodgers, who was wide open over the middle and could have had a huge gain. Green Bay later settled for a field goal.
▪ On second-and-8 from the Dallas 46 on the Packers’ first drive of the second half, Cowboys safety Barry Church intercepted Rodgers’ pass into double coverage that was intended for Randall Cobb. “I never saw him,” Rodgers said of Church.
▪ On second-and-10 from the Dallas 16 on the opening play of the fourth quarter with the Cowboys leading 20-6, Rodgers overthrew a wide-open Cobb in the end zone and Green Bay later settled for another field goal. That play came on the heels of Rodgers’ lost fumble inside the Dallas 5 on Green Bay’s previous possession.
Forced into short passes, often with Dallas rushing only three linemen and instead sitting back in coverage, Rodgers completed 31 of 42 passes for 294 yards with one touchdown, one pick and a 90.8 rating.
“I’ve got to play better for sure,” Rodgers said. “... I’m my biggest critic. ... I’m confident we’ll get it fixed. We didn’t lose confidence in the room.”
As a result of his ineffective play, Rodgers and the Packers were booed several times by the crowd of 78,481.
“It’s expected when you’re not playing well,” Rodgers said. “It’s not the first time we’ve heard that. They have a right to do that.”
Entering Sunday, Green Bay’s defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (42.8) and yards per carry (1.99). But the Cowboys showed why they are the league’s top rushing offense as rookie Ezekiel Elliott shredded the Packers with 28 carries for a career-best 157 yards, his fourth consecutive game of 130-plus rushing yards.
“It sucks. We let them come in here and prove that they are who everybody thinks they are, and that’s what [ticked] me off the most,” Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels said.
Asked what makes Elliott such a special rookie, Daniels said, “He’s a tough back and he falls forward. He plays with an attitude, and if you play with an attitude at any position you’re going to have some success, especially a position where you have to attack people. And as a running back, he accelerates on the contact. So he’s a tough kid.”
Favre gets ring
Former Packers quarterback Brett Favre received his Pro Football Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence during a halftime ceremony. Favre’s name was also unveiled next to ex-teammate Reggie White’s on the stadium’s façade, an honor the Packers bestow on all their Pro Football Hall of Famers. It’s the second consecutive game Green Bay has lost on a night it honored Favre. Last Thanksgiving, Chicago beat Green Bay 17-13 after Favre’s retired No. 4 was unveiled on the façade of the north end zone.