After defensive end Dean Lowry made an impressive effort to pick off one of Mitchell Trubisky’s passes late in the fourth quarter, Rodgers and the Packers offense took over at Chicago’s 33-yard line with an opportunity to pull ahead by two scores and put the Bears away for good.
Instead, Aaron Jones gained little ground on two straight runs and Rodgers was sacked for an 11-yard loss on third down to put Packers outside of field-goal range and result in a punt.
“They’ve been opportunistic,” Rodgers said in Sunday’s postgame about the Packers defense, “as was seen by Dean Lowry, who has been spending some extra time on the jugs after practice and made a nice, kind of knee-high catch there. But in that situation, the great teams can finish off opponents and we’re going to have to keep improving to get to that great status.”
Don’t think Rodgers’ humble perspective on a key moment in the game, though, changes how he feels about the Packers’ chances this season. The star quarterback actually bucked back at a question at the start of his postgame press conference when a reporter asked if the performance “overshadowed” the value of getting an 11th win on the year.
“I feel like that’s kind of a condescending question, so I’m going to say being 11-3 and I think the performance was a little up and down, but I thought we did some good things,” Rodgers said. “Just got to be a little more opportunistic.”
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Rodgers Feels Packers Don’t Have League’s Full Respect
Rodgers didn’t shy away from the widespread criticism that has chased the Packers after tough road losses to both the Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco 49ers, but he feels those games have slanted the reactions against what has been a markedly better season for Green Bay after missing the playoffs the past two seasons.
The Packers are in control of their own playoff destiny and could wrap up the No. 2 seed in the NFC if they win their final games on the road against the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions, which is a much different place than they stood last year when the Bears were eliminating them from contention in a similar meeting. Even if the wins can be ugly at times, the number 11 in the wins column is all No. 12 cares about right now.
“I don’t know that we have the full respect of the league at this point based on some of our performances where we got beat by a couple scores and the reactions, I would assume, to some of those situations,” Rodgers said. “But we’re 7-1 at home, we have an inside track at the 2 seed. Obviously, we have an opportunity to wrap up the division next week, which guarantees a home game and the third seed at worst. I like our chances, I like our football team.”
So does his rookie coach.
Matt LaFleur has already sealed his place in franchise history as the most successful first-year Packers head coach ever and will almost certainly be able to add a postseason berth to his ledger before Monday arrives, but he regularly deflects praise onto his players.
For instance, on the Packers’ first touchdown against the Bears, LaFleur said he declined Rodgers’ suggestion to take a shot downfield on 4th-and-4 and just wanted to move the chains, but he was thrilled when his quarterback read the field and saw an opening to check to the deep shot. Rodgers squeezed a terrific throw into the hands of Davante Adams for a 29-yard touchdown, putting them ahead 7-0.
“I think we have a bunch of guys who are going to fight for every inch and that are resilient and that care about each other,” LaFleur said during Sunday’s postgame. “They’re willing to do the little things, they’re willing to embrace their roles, no matter what that role is, in order to win football games.”