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After a ‘kick in the you-know-where’ — figuratively and literally — Aaron Rodgers aims for bounce-back game
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After a ‘kick in the you-know-where’ — figuratively and literally — Aaron Rodgers aims for bounce-back game

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GREEN BAY — After Sunday’s embarrassing 38-3 season-opening loss to the New Orleans Saints, Aaron Rodgers suggested the resounding defeat was in some ways a good thing for a team that might’ve been feeling a bit too full of itself entering the year.

“This is a good kick in the you-know-where,” Rodgers said during his postgame news conference. “Hopefully, it’ll get us going in the right direction.”

While the Green Bay Packers quarterback was speaking metaphorically, it turns out he also literally was on the receiving end of a kick in the you-know-where on one of the game’s most crucial plays.

Speaking during his weekly appearance on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio’s “The Pat McAfee Show” on Tuesday, Rodgers chalked up his momentum-changing third-quarter red-zone interception to getting hit below the belt just as he was about to throw the pass to wide receiver Davante Adams. The throw was off the mark and picked off by Saints rookie cornerback Paulson Adebo.

It was a rare red-zone mistake 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.

And immediately following the game, Rodgers called the mistake “the play of the game” and 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 Packers were down 17-3 at the time but a touchdown would have cut the lead to 17-10 and gotten the Packers back into the game.

But there were some extenuating circumstances that caused the interception, according to Rodgers.

“I don’t like to make a lot of excuses for interceptions — there’s some (bad) ones, there’s some ones you wish you had back, there’s some ones that really aren’t your fault,” Rodgers explained. “That one was entirely due to the ‘double nut shot’ I took.

“I stepped up in the pocket, I was going to throw across my body to Davante, who was running a shallow cross. That’s a ball I’ve thrown in practice before; I didn’t feel bad about that throw.”

But, based on the end-zone camera angle of the play from FOX Sports, Rodgers got a 1-2 punch below the waist from Cam Jordan, who beat rookie right guard Royce Newman off the snap, and by Christian Ringo, who got by left guard Lucas Patrick.

“I guess I’ve got to overcome that and throw a better ball,” Rodgers said. “(But) that was a painful one. They got their money’s worth on that.”

Contrary to what some might think, most football players don’t wear protective cups like baseball players do, and such hits like the one Rodgers experienced are rare.

“One of my first days playing football in eighth grade, I wore a cup. Now, that was my last day wearing a cup,” Rodgers said. “I don’t think I’ll be doing that again, but I definitely thought about that after that (interception).”

Meanwhile, Rodgers said after the players’ film session Tuesday morning at Lambeau Field Tuesday morning the team took its first step toward moving forward from the embarrassing loss and focusing on the Detroit Lions, their opponent Monday night for their home opener.

“It might be a freakout outside the facility. I think it’s a good learning lesson for us,” Rodgers said. “We can’t play like that, we can’t start a game like that. I feel like our energy level was a little bit low for the game. We’ve got to do a better job responding to adversity.

“Look, there’s not much to say. We got our (expletive) beat by 35 points and we’re all frustrated by it, but you just move on. We’ve got 16 more to go. We can’t dwell on this one and let it impact us next week. We’ve got an NFC North opponent, we’ve got a ‘Monday Night Football’ game. Any great competitor is never OK with losing, but I think the response has to be the thing you set your mind to.”

Rodgers also said the loss hasn’t changed his level of confidence in the 2021 team.

“I love the team. I feel good about everything we’ve done in the offseason,” Rodgers said. “A game like that allows all the speculation to come into play. ‘Should we have played in the preseason? Should we have done this? Should we have done that?’’ And we’ve got to deal with it, because we just got our (expletive) whooped, and that’s fine. We know how this thing goes. It’s a cycle, and right now, we’re taking it on the chin — which we should. And pretty soon, it’ll be flipped.

“I’m confident and happy and excited and love these guys. As a competitor, I’m frustrated about my performance, our performance. But this game is about how you respond to negativity usually more than how you’re hailed for your successes.”


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