Packers’ Aaron Rodgers: ‘We can’t blame anybody but ourselves’
Some of the Packers’ decisions in the first half and late in the game ultimately paved the way for the Seahawks to roar back and take an NFC Championship Game that Green Bay seemingly had in hand.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A stunned Aaron Rodgers admitted this was one defeat he’ll probably never completely get over.
Like the rest of his Packers teammates in a dejected visitors locker room, the All-Pro quarterback lamented not doing the little things Sunday to put away an NFC Championship Game they’d mostly dominated.
“It’s going to be a missed opportunity that I’ll probably think about for the rest of my career,’’ Rodgers said. “We were the better team today. We played well enough to win. We can’t blame anybody but ourselves.’’
Of all the times the Packers failed to finish off a mistake-prone Seahawks team, the final five minutes is what Rodgers will most remember. The Packers had just picked off Russell Wilson for the fourth time and had the ball and a 12-point lead with only 5:04 to go, yet couldn’t seal it.
Three straight rushes by Eddie Lacy resulted in a net loss of 4 yards and ate only 64 seconds off the clock. On their two drives with a 12-point lead, the Packers failed to get a first down.
“Not very good,” Rodgers said of the drives. “When you do that, that’s how you lose games.”
Rodgers appeared critical of the late play-calling, suggesting his team needed to be more aggressive. Packers coach Mike McCarthy had already raised eyebrows in the first half by conservatively settling for a pair of field goals with the ball twice at Seattle’s 1-yard line.
Green Bay led 16-0 at halftime but could easily have been up by more. Still, the Packers appeared to have things well in hand, limiting the Seahawks to a gadget-play touchdown on a fake field goal up until those final minutes.
“We’ve finished out games before,” said Rodgers, who went 19 for 34 for 178 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions while hampered by a calf-muscle injury. “With four minutes (left), we had a chance to do some things and we didn’t do it.”
It would have been moot had second-year tight end Brandon Bostick been able to snag an onside kick with his team clinging to a 19-14 lead. Instead, the ball went off a leaping Bostick’s helmet and into the hands of Hawks receiver Chris Matthews at midfield.
“That’s not my job at all,” Bostick said. “I was supposed to block. I just reacted to the ball, I thought I could get it. Obviously, I couldn’t.”
Four plays later, Marshawn Lynch burst off left tackle for a 24-yard touchdown to put the Hawks ahead for the first time. And though Rodgers marched the Packers downfield for a tying field goal, he didn’t touch the ball again as the Hawks scored on the first possession of overtime.
“It takes 60 minutes,” tight end Andrews Quarless said. “We played probably 57 ... It’s tough.”
Green Bay’s defense sacked Wilson five times and recovered a fumble. But the Packers also had a pair of costly defensive lapses.
Wilson, staring at third-and-19 from Green Bay’s 48 in the third quarter, connected for 29 yards to Doug Baldwin. Moments later, the Hawks scored their first touchdown on the fake field goal.
Then, after the Hawks went up 20-19 late, the Packers appeared to have Wilson sacked on a two-point conversion try. He heaved a desperation throw toward the end zone. With the entire Packers secondary watching, Luke Willson leaped and snagged it.
The two points proved critical, since the ensuing Packers field goal merely tied the score instead of putting Green Bay back in front.
“There are a lot of plays I think we’d love to have back,’’ Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said.
Said Rodgers, “We had some chances early, we had some chances late,’’ he said. “We had some chances to do some things and we just couldn’t get it done.’’