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Aaron Rodgers’ assessment of Packers’ embarrassing loss? ‘We played bad, I played bad’

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 15 of 28 passes for 133 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 36.8 on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers’ synopsis was concise.

“We played bad,” he said. “I played bad.”

While the Green Bay Packers’ three-time NFL MVP quarterback might’ve been off grammatically — somewhere, his Pleasant Valley High School English teacher was thinking, “Badly, Aaron, bad-ly,” — the quarterback was right on the mark with his assessment of his performance in his team’s 38-3 season-opening blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

Rodgers completed just 15 of 28 passes for 133 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 36.8. It was so bad and the game got so out of hand that his future successor, backup quarterback Jordan Love, made his NFL regular-season debut with 10 minutes, 46 seconds left in the game.

It was a stunning amount of garbage time for an offense that was the league’s No. 1 scoring unit a year ago and for a quarterback who won his third NFL MVP award while throwing 48 touchdown passes and just five interceptions en route to a 121.5 passer rating — the second-highest of his career and in NFL history, with only his 122.5 rating during his first MVP season of 2011 being better.And while a 35-point loss — the Packers’ most lopsided loss in the 13-plus years since Rodgers assumed the starting job in 2008 — might seem to have no turning point, Rodgers was convinced that his third-quarter interception on second-and-7 from the Saints’ 9-yard line was exactly that.

Having directed an efficient 2-minute drill in the final 1:07 of the first half to put a Mason Crosby field goal on the board and pull within 17-3 at halftime, Rodgers knew a touchdown on the opening possession of the second half would have allowed the Packers to make a game of it.

Instead, under pressure, Rodgers stepped up in the pocket and tried to throw to wide receiver Davante Adams while being hit. The throw was well behind Adams and Saints rookie cornerback Paulson Adebo snared it to snuff out the Packers’ threat.

It was a rare red-zone gaffe by Rodgers, who inside opponents’ 20-yard lines last year was virtually unstoppable, completing 59 of 82 passes (72%) with 35 touchdowns and no interceptions for a 119.1 rating, the best in the NFL in the red zone last season.

Rodgers called the mistake “the play of the game,” and once again, he wasn’t wrong. He admitted he had running back Aaron Jones on the outside for a safer throw that would have allowed him to live for another play.

“The first one was obviously the play of the game. That kind of swung things big time — it’s 17-3; if we score there, it’s 17-10,” Rodgers explained. “I probably should’ve just thrown it to ‘Jonesy’ and moved on to third down. Pre-snap, I was thinking about maybe giving Davante a different route. (I) stepped up in the pocket, took a shot right as I was throwing it and wish I would’ve thrown that one away or thrown it to Jonesy right away because obviously that changed the game, turned the game.”

After being the NFL’s best red-zone team a year ago with an 80% touchdown success rate, the Packers turned the ball over on both their trips inside the Saints’ 20 — on Rodgers’ INT, and then on Love’s fumble on a sack late in the fourth quarter.

“You’ve got to start with looking at your plan,” LaFleur said. “I would say that’s where we start. And then, how well did we execute the plays? And, were there opportunities to be made within those plays? Obviously, we didn’t execute. But I think we’re all going to start to look right at the plan first.”

Extra points

The Packers lost tight end Josiah Deguara to a concussion during the game. Deguara was playing his first regular-season game since tearing his ACL against Atlanta last Oct. 5. He was able to leave the field under his own power after teammates took a knee and watched with concerned looks on their faces as Deguara stayed down. … LaFleur didn’t want to talk about what he saw on the questionable Za’Darius Smith roughing-the-passer penalty that wiped out Darnell Savage’s third-quarter end-zone interception. “You trying to get me in trouble?” he replied to a reporter. … Smith played sparingly after missing most of camp and much of last week’s practices while dealing with what the team has said is a back injury. “He said he felt good (Saturday) night and then we made him work out (Sunday) morning before the game, and he said he felt good in that,” LaFleur said. “So we decided to let him play.” … Although LaFleur never announced what his starting offensive line would be, it was Elgton Jenkins at left tackle, Lucas Patrick at left guard, rookie Josh Myers at center, rookie Royce Newman at right guard and Billy Turner at right tackle, as expected. “I thought the line played good, I really do,” said Rodgers, who was sacked once and hit seven times. “The protection overall was really good.”


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