Divisional Round & Season-Ending Pressers - That's What Cheese Said

Hear from the head coach and some key players both following Green Bay's loss in the Divisional Round, and as the team conducted season-ending interviews.

At the end of each season, there’s only one happy NFL team. Unfortunately for the Packers, their quest to hoist a 14th title fell short in the Divisional Round, falling to the 49ers 13-10 on a last-second field goal.

It was a game the Packers were in control of for much of the contest, but some significant special teams blunders and a lack of points on offense cost Green Bay in the end, despite a championship-caliber performance from the defense. 

“I really hurt for our football team,” said Head Coach Matt LaFleur postgame. “We had plenty of opportunities to put that game away. I thought our defense battled their ass off. I thought they competed at the highest level.”

Green Bay’s defense held the league’s most efficient red zone offense to zero touchdowns, sacked Jimmy Garoppolo four times, and intercepted him once. Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell combined for 92 yards on the ground, and Garoppolo finished the day with only 131 yards and a rating of 57.1. 

“We played our hearts out,” said defensive lineman Kenny Clark, calling the loss one of the worst feelings in the world. He had six total tackles and one sack on the night. 

“I felt like we had plenty of games in front of us,” added inside linebacker Krys Barnes. “As a whole locker room, whole team, organization, we were manifesting something much bigger than this.”

After scoring a touchdown on the opening drive, the Packers were kept out of the end zone the rest of the night. With a jumbled offensive line that saw Billy Turner get the start at left tackle over Yosh Nijman, Rodgers was sacked five times. Davante Adams and Aaron Jones were targeted a combined 21 times. Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Josiah Deguara were targeted just three total times. 

Even when the Packers got into scoring range, special teams blunders or mental errors protecting the football cost them big. It was Green Bay’s game to lose until the 49ers blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. 

“You could argue that was the difference in the game,” LaFleur said.

It was a Packers roster returning to full strength. Za’Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander returned to play rotational roles on defense. Randall Cobb fought his way back from a core injury. Nobody expected the season to end the way it did, so suddenly. 

“I really felt like with ‘Z’ coming back, Whitney out there, with Ja out there, and the possibility of Dave coming back, that we truly had a Super Bowl caliber team,” said Rodgers. “In other years it feels like sometimes you need things to go your way, but that didn’t feel like this season.”

For so many players in the locker room, there’s an added uncertainty as to what comes next. With the Packers well over the salary cap going into the offseason, tough decisions will be made on both sides of the ball. That said, LaFleur is confident the Packers won’t be rebuilding. 

“There’s no plan for a rebuild,” he said. “There’ll be some tough decisions, no doubt about it. But I’m really confident in Russ’ ability, in Gutey’s ability, and us collectively to figure a way to do this thing.”

Clark also brought up the young guys on defense that are growing into leaders on the team, mentioning Rashan Gary and Eric Stokes specifically and saying the building blocks are there to stay competitive on defense. 

Of course, the biggest domino to fall will be Rodgers and whether or not he returns to the team. He may retire, or he may look to finish his career with a different franchise. Whatever he decides, he’s assured the media it won’t be a drawn out process like it was last offseason. After Rodgers, the Adams domino likely falls next. Will he stay in Green Bay if Rodgers retires or plays elsewhere? 

“I’m thankful for this time, for this team. Super disappointed, bummed out, frustrated with how I played tonight, frustrated with how it ended, but still deeply grateful for this season and these guys,” said Rodgers, concluding his unprecedented 17th season with the franchise. 

For as much pain as the locker room felt postgame, and the sense of finality that comes with a playoff loss for so many of the veterans in the locker room, the young voices on the team sounded more hungry than ever to get this team over the hump.

“Personally, I’ve never been more motivated in my life to go and win a Super Bowl,” said running back AJ Dillon, who left the game with a fractured rib and didn’t return. 

“I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this organization,” added Barnes, saying of his teammates, “I’ll go to war with them anyday.” 

For LaFleur, he knows the ultimate goal and what matters when you coach in a city dubbed Titletown. "Until we're holding that Lombardi Trophy, we're never going to be happy with where we're at."

"Sorry we didn't get it done,” he finished. “We’ll get back at this thing and you'll see a better version of us next year."

 

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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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5 points

Comments (20)

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splitpea1's picture

January 25, 2022 at 12:55 pm

That MLF is really sharp....On the blocked punt, "You could argue that was the difference in the game." Really? It was pretty obvious at the season midpoint that a ST coaching change was in order, but apparently he figured the penchant for blunders would magically disappear once the postseason arrived.

"There's no plan for a rebuild." That's why I usually pay no attention to pressers--no one is going to say anything revealing at this time. Hopefully the front office has other ideas in mind anyway, because there is never a better opportunity to hit the reset button and position this franchise for future success.

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mnbadger's picture

January 25, 2022 at 12:47 pm

A nice collection of very classy soundbites from a great group of professionals. Now give each other a hug, trade AR, release or tag then trade DA and get busy getting the young guns signed. Fill the holes with fresh talent from FA's or draft class.
FA acquisitions and rookies must be fast, tough and disciplined. Foot ball players that can compete for playing time and excel at special teams.
Possibly our next qb1 will be more dedicated to the scheme and read through all progressions. Offense could be better with better decision making, so long as accuracy are there. AR12 proved that he isn't willing to do that and it's time to give the next person a chance. This is still a very talented team. Rebuild should be one offseason if the FO can work some magic.
GPG!

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calabasa's picture

January 25, 2022 at 03:29 pm

Great points. Agreed!

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gkarl's picture

January 25, 2022 at 12:50 pm

It nice to hear that there won't be a rebuild. Now we just need to figure out how to avoid subtraction by necessity.

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Leatherhead's picture

January 25, 2022 at 02:23 pm

I am pleased that there is no rebuild. This is some remodeling, a little renovation, but as the coach said , we'll be a better version of ourselves next year.

The nature of special teams.......you should do everything possible to reduce their impact on the game. You'll never have special teams good enough to make up for the offense, or defense, just flat failing, and that's what happened. You can change coaches and players but every team since Knute Rockne has had problems on special teams. You aren't going to change that. You aren't going to make every field goal. You're going to get kicks blocked. You're going to get penalties and injuries. You're going to fall for fakes. It's going to happen.

Never return punts. Return only the kicks you have to and get down before you cough up the rock. Punt out of bounds. Kick it through the endzone or squib it.

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mrj007's picture

January 25, 2022 at 05:08 pm

True. Yet all those things you mention should not happen EVERY SINGLE GAME. The frequency of these issues with the Packers is what made the unit truly awful and a major reason Packers are no longer playing

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Roadrunner23's picture

January 25, 2022 at 02:40 pm

What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

So the Packers Special Teams under Shawn Mennenga were woeful and so he was fired after several years of poor play by his units.

So what did MLF do? Hire his well spoken but very inexperienced assistant as the head guy and expected different results!

Personally I like Mo Drayton, seems like an articulate and nice guy but the hire was.....

STUPID!

This seemingly harmless hire cost the Packers a chance at the SUPER BOWL!

Biggest blunder since BRANDON BOSTIC on Special Teams!

MLF do you want different results? New broom sweeps clean Dude, get it right next time!

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Lphill's picture

January 25, 2022 at 03:28 pm

The only change to the O line should have been Myers , had special teams done their job the Packers win 13 to 3 and the game would go down as a defensive battle , thanks to Maurice Drayton season over.

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mrj007's picture

January 25, 2022 at 05:12 pm

Packers O had like four or five 3-out or 6-out possessions in second half. I wish more skill players were involved rather than Davante-vision or Jones

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Norloel's picture

January 25, 2022 at 05:15 pm

Why the Packers lost to the 49ers - a fan's take (It wasn't defense)

On the coaches
-One slant called - second play of the game
-Two screens called - one each in the first & second offensive series
-Very little imagination in sets using motion to get the defense off-balance

On the Quarterback
-14:00 mark in the 2nd qtr. on 3rd and 8, Rogers takes a sack when he could have dropped the ball off to a wide open Deguara in the flat.
-12:52 mark in 4th qtr. 2nd and goal from the 10 yard line following a false start penalty, Rogers has Jones open but makes a bad throw that Jones must twist around and reach way up to catch - falls to the ground for a 2 yard gain, instead of a bigger gain or potential touchdown.
-5:30 mark in 4th qtr. on 2nd and 8, Rogers makes a poor throw to a covered adams with Cobb and Lazard open on the left side.
-Very next play Rogers is slow to get the ball out of his hands to an open Deguara in the flat and takes a sack. That forces the punt that got blocked and taken in for a TD for SF.
-3:45 mark of 4th qtr. 2nd and 11, Rogers throws incomplete to a coverd Cobb on the left side when he had Deguara (again!) and Jones both open in the middle.
-Very next play 3rd and 11, Rogers throws incomplete to Adams in double coverage when he had St. Brown streaking down the left side and breaks open and Lazard wide open over the middle. Packers have to punt and never get the ball back.
On Special Teams
No comment needed.

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MainePackFan's picture

January 25, 2022 at 08:04 pm

You nailed it. Well done

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canadapacker's picture

January 25, 2022 at 05:18 pm

Too much navel gazing.

What other QB has 39 wins out of 47 played games ( not really counting Detroit) over the last 3 years? Which other Quarterback has 113 TD passes and only 13 INTs- over the last 3 years. And people want to jettison him because of one bad game played at 0 F? Come on – he has at least 3 years left in his body. Time for AR and the team to negotiate with these guys to get Adams /AR and other key individuals back. And stop the dumb talk. Yes I hated his offseason mindgames ( but better than Favres) – and I really hated his vaccination mind games as well. But those are different stories. As far as can he still play QB – better than most – does the salary cap and his salary come into play yes. So lets just let it play out – Ball Gutey and Murph need to get it done.

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croatpackfan's picture

January 26, 2022 at 03:00 am

What other QBs has at least one SB ring in the spin of the last decade?

Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Russel Wilson, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady (3×), Nick Foles, Patrick Mahomes

I do not see "regular season Diva" amongst them. Do you? Hey, fucking Joe Flacco & Nick Foles won their SBs. What say you that? Aaron Rodgers is THE CHOKER.

Repeating same things and fails, is on you, not on circumstances. I do n ot want to see another decade of darkness. Rebuild and start over. With good management you'll be in conversation for play offs in 2 -3 years and you'll had another chance to win the SB within 5 years from the next season.

You borrow next season and you will have decades of inadequacy. How I know that? Just look at Bills, Jags, Texans, Jets, Bears, Falcons, Washington, Giants, hell yes Cowboys...

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Booner's picture

January 26, 2022 at 08:18 am

Well said Canada!

They will never have another QB as good as we do right now! Rodger's has a lot left in the tank! Time for the three stooges to earn their keep!

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BruceC1960's picture

January 25, 2022 at 06:23 pm

Does trading Rodgers and letting Devante walk constitute a rebuild?
Did MLF feel like the choices made on the o-line had an effect on the running game?

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JohnnyLogan's picture

January 25, 2022 at 06:44 pm

Bring back Rodgers and I'm not sure how much enjoyment Packer fans will actually have during the regular season. There will be a lot of victories but after every game, there will also be the inevitable feeling, "Yeah, but wait till the playoffs when Rodgers sucks."

The mantra is, get to the playoffs and you've got a shot. Not really. Rodgers has folded so many times he's like worn-out bed sheet. He was that bad. Really bad. Historically bad. I think it's a combination of things;

1) His incredibly inflated ego for one. He simply refuses to take the easy throws. He has to show us how fuckin' good he is and go for a talked-about throw, so he can revel in the adulation of fans and reporters after the game. His attitude is "I'm no game manager, I don't need no stinkin' dump-offs!"

The second thing that stood out Sunday was the differences in attitude between Rodgers and those two young bucks that went at each other like Ali-Frazier. They were throwing darts, lasers, to multiple receivers. I saw Pat Mahomes, with 13 seconds left, pick up his helmet and it looked like he knew he was going to score. 13 seconds! Rodgers has done that in the past for sure. But last year, and even more so this year, he looked shriveled, pissed, uncertain, like an entitled guy whose chauffeur was late picking him up. There was no fight in the man.

Enuf!... as David Maraniss said. Those that say we can't let a generational QB, who has won back-to-back MVPs, just walk are wrong in my estimation. As fans, we root first and foremost for the logo. But you can't deny we root for players we like, and Rodgers has just become so unlikeable.

Give me a team of young hungry players going out there fighting for the Green and Gold. Win or lose I'll be in their corner, and just maybe, with the haul we get for Rodgers, it'll actually turn out all right. The excitement will be season long because we'll be hoping to get into the playoffs, not wondering all season, with Rodgers, whether he'll choke once more.

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EnemyTerritory's picture

January 25, 2022 at 08:18 pm

Blunt but entirely accurate. Time to move on. Not time to beg the diva to return, how’d that work out for the Vikings and Favre in year two? Love is probably not the answer but give me a QB1 that totally buys into the vision, takes the dump off passes and moves the sticks for less than 35m a year and managing to alienate half the fan base for antics off the field. If he wants to come back fine but if he wants out trade him or let him retire a packer. AFC or NFC if he’s Traded take the best deal. See ya

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croatpackfan's picture

January 26, 2022 at 03:05 am

If he wants to come back, fine, but under the new contract. He have to play on one year deal for vet minimum. And he will not have Davante Adams, just "JAG" WRs. That is the only deal I would accept!

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packergal's picture

January 26, 2022 at 09:29 am

“ He looked shriveled, pissed, uncertain, like an entitled guy whose chauffeur was late picking him up. There was no fight in the man”…

So riddle me this, Johnny Logan…WHY OH WHY does anyone believe that the “shriveled, pissed, uncertain, like an entitled guy whose chauffeur was late picking him up, no fight in the man”, named Aaron Charles Rodgers will command multiple high draft picks?

I do not believe a shrewd GM and COACH team will give away the future for a “tired, old, shriveled, pissed, entitled guy” that has consistently delivered failure in the playoffs and a 7-9 record!

Especially since the tired, old, draining excuses for his playoff performance are as exhausting as the glare Aaron Charles Rodgers delivers to his team-mates when they don’t perform. These behaviors do not help ensure a winning team playoff culture and GMS will think hard about letting multiple future picks go to acquire Aaron Charles Rodgers

IT. IS. TIME. TO. TRY A DIFFERENT APPROACH.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

January 28, 2022 at 06:59 am

Because Packergal, while some see "shriveled, pissed, uncertain" others, namely those in executive positions who want to save their jobs, see a 4 time MVP, maybe the best thrower of a football in history, and a media star.

Also, team owners see a guy who can bring them to the promised land, and those looking to sell immediately add value to their team. There are plenty of buyers out there.

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