GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Aaron Rodgers is the great equalizer for the Green Bay Packers, a once-in-a-generation type of talent who can help mask mistakes and turn busted plays into big gains.
Without him, miscues are magnified and the margin of error shrinks considerably for the Packers.
It happened again Monday night when Green Bay fell 30-17 to the Detroit Lions for its third straight loss, a streak that started when Rodgers hurt his collarbone on Oct. 15 at Minnesota.
”We’re a better team than what we’re putting on film, regardless of whether (Rodgers) is in there or not,” receiver Davante Adams said. ”We’ve still got … enough talent in here where we can win these types of games.”
The Packers were coming off a bye, exuding optimism that an extra week of rest and preparation could help turn things around. Coming into the game, coach Mike McCarthy in part stressed the need to get the ball more to his playmaking receivers.
They did just that, though most of the opportunities came on short passes.
Adams had seven catches for 53 yards with a long of 9. Jordy Nelson finished with four catches for 35 yards. He was blanketed by Lions cornerback Darius Slay on a couple deep shots in the third quarter while the game was still competitive.
Randall Cobb had five catches for 58 yards, including a 46-yard gain on a catch-and-run that set up Hundley’s 1-yard quarterback sneak that made it 20-10 with 9:52 left.
Hundley was 26 of 36 for 245 yards, though he rarely took deep shots, especially in the first half. He nearly connected on one long throw to Adams, who had a step on the cornerback down the sideline, but the ball bounced off fingertips.
”This game they were giving us the underneath stuff,” Hundley said. ”You have to take what’s given.”
McCarthy stood by Hundley, who is most effective out of the pocket and when he can use his legs.
The Packers had other problems, too, rushing for 78 yards on 17 carries. They were just 2 of 9 on third downs.
”Brett Hundley played better tonight and I have great faith in Brett Hundley. Brett Hundley’s not our issue,” McCarthy said.
The defense got burned on third downs by Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, who was 26 of 33 for 361 yards and two scores to Marvin Jones. The Lions were 8 of 13 on third-down conversions.
The Lions’ opening score was set up by an unnecessary roughness penalty on Mike Daniels, after the defensive lineman appeared to head-butt Detroit center Travis Swanson. The flag negated an incompletion on third-and-15 that would have forced the Lions to punt from their own 25.
Stafford connected with Jones for the touchdown pass five plays later.
”I really take that on myself. If we stop them there, then we get a short field … I let the emotions get the best of me,” Daniels said.
With Rodgers in uniform, the Packers have a better chance to punch back on the scoreboard. The defense can take more chances and still know that Rodgers can win a shootout.
They need to figure out quickly how to win without him.
”We come out winning Super Bowls around here. If we keep playing like this, it’s not going to be pretty,” cornerback Davon House said. ”We’re 4-4, with how many games left? Eight games left. We’ve got to pull together – somehow, some way.”
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