2020 Week 14 - That’s What Cheese Said

“We’re gonna enjoy this one. We’re gonna enjoy it for one night and then we’re gonna get back to work."

“It’s extra special this year,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers in his post-game presser. The Packers clinched the NFC North for the second straight year under Head Coach Matt LaFleur, doing so once again against a divisional opponent. 

Perhaps even more exciting was the news that the Philadelphia Eagles had also pulled off the upset against the New Orleans Saints, giving Green Bay possession of the No. 1 seed in the NFC with three games to play. 

“Maybe not the same photo op as we had after we ran the table and won six in a row, but I had a moment in the locker room, I just kind of leaned back in my locker and just smiled and took it all in,” said Rodgers. “With the music playing and the guys celebrating, it was just a special moment and you realize, these are the times you’re gonna miss when it’s all said and done. 

I’m just so happy for the opportunity to be a part of this squad and optimistic about what the future can hold with these guys.”

Rodgers had another electric night throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for an additional score, bringing his passing touchdown total on the season to 39. He needs just two passing touchdowns in each of the final three games to tie the career-high 45 he set in 2011, the same season he won his first NFL MVP. 

He took zero sacks against the Lions, keeping his season total at only 13 sacks through just as many games. If the trend holds, Rodgers will have been sacked for the fewest times in his career, behind even the 21 sacks he took in 2013 playing in only nine games. 

Rodgers’ best receiving target, Davante Adams, set a franchise record himself on Sunday, becoming the first player in Packers history to score a touchdown in eight consecutive games. Adams did it in style, too, on a 56-yard score during Green Bay’s opening possession. 

On the season, the Packers have gotten off to much hotter starts than in 2019, and it’s been noticeable.

“This is a fun offense,” Rodgers said, adding that they can feel the difference on offense this year in regards to scoring more points and converting on more third downs. 

Green Bay went 8-of-11 on third downs against Detroit with a completion percentage of 73%. The team was also a perfect 3-for-3 in red zone efficiency. 

Beyond Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Robert Tonyan had Green Bay’s other two receiving touchdowns, with both players now over 500 yards on the year. Both pass catchers are having career best seasons, with Valdes-Scantling up to five touchdowns and 603 yards on the season and Tonyan posting 533 yards and nine touchdowns (tied with Travis Kelce for most by a tight end). 

Defensively, the Packers had a four-sack outing against Detroit with Darnell Savage, Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, and Rashan Gary all getting in on the fun. Gary now is second on the team in sacks with five behind only Za’Darius Smith. 

Despite getting into some questionable situations on defense, like the long kickoff return in the fourth quarter by the Lions that gave Detroit great field position to get back into the game, the defense was able to hold tough and give up only a field goal when it mattered most. 

Both Rodgers and Adams mentioned the difference in this 2020 team compared to last year’s squad, despite having a lot of the same players and coaches in the building. 

“I’d say we’re a little bit more of a resilient bunch than we were before,” said Adams. “We’ve obviously been through a lot together. Went to the west coast and got our butt kicked a few times last year, so just kind of having that in the back of our minds and having gone through that I think has made us a lot stronger and a lot tougher as a team.”

For Rodgers, this Packers team has a lot of the characteristics that make up a championship-caliber team.

“I feel like our best teams haven’t always won and gotten to the championship game. It’s kind of those teams that have those qualities you can’t really measure I guess,” he said. “It’s the camaraderie, the chemistry, and the ability to deal with adversity and not start pointing fingers, that resolve, that grit.”

What’s in front of the 10-3 Packers isn’t lost on anyone, even with Adams wearing the NFC North “Won Not Done” shirt during his presser. 

“We’re gonna enjoy this one. We’re gonna enjoy it for one night and then we’re gonna get back to work,” said LaFleur. 

While winning the North was always goal number one for the Packers, sitting as the No. 1 seed with three games to go puts the team in prime position to host an NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field, something Green Bay has yet to do with Rodgers at quarterback. 

“We’ve played in four NFC Championship Games, all four on the road, so being able to have the whole thing come through Green Bay is something we’ve talked about for a long time, we’ve wanted but never had,” said Rodgers. “So that would definitely be in our favor with the weather that we have in Green Bay, play at home, be on our schedule.”

To Adams, the feeling is a familiar one. He’s donned plenty of NFC North apparel in post-game pressers, but he’s also been a part of three brutal losses in NFC Championship Games. To put the team in the best position to win, Adams said they need to adopt the “Kobe mindset” of not looking ahead and focusing one game at a time. 

“This is a pretty familiar position for me honestly,” he said. “I’ve put this t-shirt on quite a few times now over the past seven years. I’m really confident as a team obviously, but we’ve been in a really good position, got to the NFC Championship. I’ve been in that three times. So, you don’t really want to look up until you get all the way through it.”

One game at a time. That’s the mentality going into the final three games of the season. The Packers will have two primetime games at home before finishing the season at Soldier Field against the Bears, who may or may not still be in contention for a wild card spot at that point. 

“It all starts with our preparation,” said LaFleur. “I felt like our preparation, just the energy, excitement to come to work each and every day, has been getting better and better. Our guys understand what’s at stake. There’s a lot to play for.” 

Right now, the stakes don’t get much bigger than the path to the Super Bowl coming through the Frozen Tundra.

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (5)

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Lphill's picture

December 15, 2020 at 08:25 pm

Rodgers visited Stafford in the Lions locker room after the game , the sentiment is it was the last time Rodgers would face off against him as a Lion, Rodgers also exchanged jerseys with Adrian Peterson, he said this on the Pat McAfee podcast.

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fastmoving's picture

December 16, 2020 at 03:24 am

He just told Stafford how much he appreciated what he did on thanksgiving. Nothing else.

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WisconsinStrong's picture

December 15, 2020 at 08:35 pm

It may be my own ears, but I feel like I've heard more in our offensive players' voices this year--more enthusiasm, more optimism, more joy, just more gratitude to be playing football. I think a lot of this links to MLF and his close connection with the offense. On the other hand, I'm really missing the swag that our defense brought every week last year, whether to the playing field or to the pressers. I keep going back in my mind to last year's preseason, and Za'Darius's revelations of how the defense came together as brothers. The defense was player-led last year, and I'm missing that collective defensive player voice of confidence and camaraderie and braggadocio (and sometimes missing Tramon and Blake too). Somehow, I'd like to see MLF more involved in and interacting with our defense. Maybe our defense needs him more this year? Or maybe that's just what I'm seeing or failing to see as a simple fan. I'm still hopeful Z and Adrian and Jaire and Kenny and any given player on any given Sunday will create the sparks that bring our D-Train back to life and elevate our whole team. The wins at the end of last year against MN and SEA were breathtaking; can you imagine that same feeling of love and appreciation for our team in a Super Bowl win this year?

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mnbadger's picture

December 16, 2020 at 12:26 pm

Man it's fun to read such positive stories about the Pack Attack. Especially this late in the season. Usually this much positive content only comes in May and June.

GPG and keep GOING all the way to the SB, wherever the helll it's being played this year. Like Adams said, focus on this week only!

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Rxick's picture

December 17, 2020 at 11:08 am

I just love American football! I very often place bets on this sport and very successfully. I use the https://betsofa.life platform to bet online. It is very comfortable. In general, this is a good site for gambling and sports betting. Lovers of such things, I advise you to pay attention to this platform

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